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About plagiarism


Genady
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19 minutes ago, Arete said:

The students I teach are predominately pre-med, and the stakes are high. They are all paying a lot to be there, need straight A's to get into competitive medical programs. and not all of them are straight A students. Some students will go to extraordinary lengths to try and get that A, including harassing/stalking their professors, cheating, trying to find loopholes in university policies, etc and so on. My take is this: 

a) I'm there to teach the course, not police the academic misconduct policy. Some students will cheat in my course and get away with it - but I'm not going to run sting operations and deliberately try and catch cheaters, because ultimately it's a waste of my energy which could be spent on better quality teaching and pedagogy. 

b) If I do catch a cheater (which happens at least once a semester), I don't screw around. You fail and get formally reported for a academic misconduct. I block your email/phone number. You appeal to the dean if you don't like it. I don't give warnings (aside from in the syllabus) "just this one time" or other half measures. If I catch you it's extraordinarily likely this ain't your first rodeo. I trusted you, and you treated me like an idiot - you wrecked your GPA/lost your scholarship/ruined your graduation plans, not me. 

c) I don't take it personally or get upset about it. I get that this is a deeply flawed system, and the motivations to cheat. I also get that my upper division elective is just not that important in the long run, and I won't get worked up being the integrity gatekeeper of the academic world. I give my students the benefit of the doubt, and try to get on with being the best instructor I can.

I think what annoys me most is the that volume of cheating has increased while the effort into cheating has declined. I am used to a certain rate among pre-professionals, but unfortunately especially during the pandemic the biology majors has have engaged quite a bit in it. We had online exams and often it is quite obvious (e.g. clearly copy/pasted answers from one of the notorious answer websites). I cut down points and move on, but the lack of effort is just disappointing. At least it tells you which folks you should not try to recruit for grad school.

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Something else to factor in is the age/maturity/dependency of the student.

In the early grades, a child is very much influenced by parental and societal behaviours and expectation. They may simply want to please a demanding parent, or they may have great pressure exerted on them to perform to an adult's standard. These habits may then become ingrained, unless some other very strong influence turns them in another direction. In some cultures, parental expectation and control is all but absolute throughout a young person's life, until they become self-supporting. In some cultures, competition for ranking, prizes, places in the respected institutions of higher learning, prestigious professional firms or hospitals is so intense that a weaker student may resort to desperate measures - simply because the price of failure, or even just quitting, is too high.

Some students commit suicide. Some act out, act up, get arrested, get expelled - anything to get that achivement-monkey off their back.  Some cheat and get away with it and go on to become extremely successful business tycoons.

1 hour ago, CharonY said:

I think what annoys me most is the that volume of cheating has increased while the effort into cheating has declined.

That seems like nothing more than laziness to me.

* Obviously, I started the above a long time before posting it. Duties elsewhere intervened. 

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1 hour ago, CharonY said:

I cut down points and move on

You're way nicer than me. I stop grading the paper/exam, fail it, fill out the online academic misconduct report form for the dean, then send the student the boilerplate "You have been formally sanctioned for breach of the academic integrity policy" email. I just don't see any point wasting my time grading work when a student has cheated. 

I almost have to grudgingly respect the audacity when on the rare occasion a student I caught cheating requests to join my research group. 

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25 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

Something else to factor in is the age/maturity/dependency of the student.

In the early grades, a child is very much influenced by parental and societal behaviours and expectation. They may simply want to please a demanding parent, or they may have great pressure exerted on them to perform to an adult's standard. These habits may then become ingrained, unless some other very strong influence turns them in another direction. In some cultures, parental expectation and control is all but absolute throughout a young person's life, until they become self-supporting. In some cultures, competition for ranking, prizes, places in the respected institutions of higher learning, prestigious professional firms or hospitals is so intense that a weaker student may resort to desperate measures - simply because the price of failure, or even just quitting, is too high.

Some students commit suicide. Some act out, act up, get arrested, get expelled - anything to get that achivement-monkey off their back.  Some cheat and get away with it and go on to become extremely successful business tycoons.

+1

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9 hours ago, Genady said:

Absolutely right. However, one shouldn't get an A for compiling works of others, unless such compiling is a goal of the assignment, should they? 

It’s hard to envision that just compiling others’ words would make for a coherent paper. 

6 hours ago, CharonY said:

I think it is also a mindset issue. Folks focus on giving right answers to a question for points in the most efficient way, but without engaging intellectually. Often they copy wrong answers as they have not even thought about the problem properly. Likely only some words were googled.

Of course. We see that here in the HW section with people who just want the answers.

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22 hours ago, Peterkin said:

That makes you an exceptional student. Unfortunately, most students just want to get the credits, move on, get the diploma, move on, get the job, move on, get the pay, move on, get the promotion, move on ... 

Perhaps, but I'm not going to clame credit because I'm clearly not an exceptional teacher...

Most student's just want an easy way to understand; a good teacher provides that, even if they copy it word for word...

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1 hour ago, dimreepr said:

Perhaps, but I'm not going to clame credit because I'm clearly not an exceptional teacher...

Most student's just want an easy way to understand; a good teacher provides that, even if they copy it word for word...

If you just copy, you don't understand.

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3 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Most student's just want an easy way to understand; a good teacher provides that, even if they copy it word for word...

In the case of plagiarism, they're not taking the lecture, or copying what the teacher wrote on the blackboard. They're given an assignment to research a topic and produce their own report on it. Instead, they are copying another person's report, without doing the research, which was the path to understanding. Therefore, understanding does not enter into the issues surrounding plagiarism.

3 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Perhaps, but I'm not going to clame credit because I'm clearly not an exceptional teacher...

That's completely beside the point. It's not about great pedagogy or understanding. They want the paper credits: the certificate, the diploma, the official recognition that they have completed a course of studies, so that they qualify for a position. But they have not actually learned the material, so they will not be competent in that position. You'd better hope none of them are your pharmacist!

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21 hours ago, Peterkin said:

That's completely beside the point. It's not about great pedagogy or understanding.

Is a cheat not capable of understanding??? Or is it better to assume... 

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30 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Is a cheat not capable of understanding??? Or is it better to assume... 

He may or may not be capable of understanding. We can't tell from his work, because he he hasn't done the work. So, it's better to assume. If he understood the subject matter, he wouldn't need to cheat, and he would avoid the risk of being caught, failed and expelled. 

Edited by Peterkin
clarity
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On 1/8/2022 at 2:35 PM, Arete said:

You're way nicer than me. I stop grading the paper/exam, fail it, fill out the online academic misconduct report form for the dean, then send the student the boilerplate "You have been formally sanctioned for breach of the academic integrity policy" email. I just don't see any point wasting my time grading work when a student has cheated. 

I almost have to grudgingly respect the audacity when on the rare occasion a student I caught cheating requests to join my research group. 

Well, to be honest part of it is the procedure involved in fully failing students. It is a rather drawn out process, students are now much more likely to appeal even without grounds and you have document a lot things, which I frankly do not have the time for. On top Dean's is overloaded due to the spike during online teaching so there is a bit of pressure to get things over as fast as possible. Also, we are not allowed to block students (or at least heavily discouraged from doing so). Our Admin unfortunately has given in to the "students are clients" attitude and, to my disappointment, it is seeping through. Students are in for the certificate and those with genuine interest seem to be getting fewer and fewer each year. 

But then, I do not see myself as a gatekeeper of competence (except for my research group). If that is what students, administration and politics  think how educations is supposed to be I do not have the energy to fight them.

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28 minutes ago, CharonY said:

If that is what students, administration and politics  think how educations is supposed to be I do not have the energy to fight them.

I sympathize - and wonder how many excellent academics feel the same way. It's a spiral, innit?

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22 hours ago, Peterkin said:

He may or may not be capable of understanding. We can't tell from his work, because he he hasn't done the work. So, it's better to assume. If he understood the subject matter, he wouldn't need to cheat, and he would avoid the risk of being caught, failed and expelled.

Plagiarism isn't the same as cheating; cheating is buying an essay, plagiarism is using history to elaborate...

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Plagiarism is passing off the work of someone else's as your own. It is a form of cheating - you are taking credit for someone else's work. Buying an essay is one form of plagiarism.

In some cases it's the least useful form of cheating, since giving proper credit to the source shouldn't diminish your own work in any way.

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2 hours ago, dimreepr said:

Plagiarism isn't the same as cheating; cheating is buying an essay, plagiarism is using history to elaborate...

Plagiarism is cheating. It's like buying an essay - or the research that someone else did in writing their essay - only, without paying for it; IOW, stealing it. It's also a form of cheating yourself out of the process of learning, and thereby, out of the earned knowledge. And cheating the other students who may be competing for the same reward but doing their on work. And cheating your future employers, clients, patients or whoever depends on your knowing everything your certificate claims you know when you graduate.

Using another person's work and words is nothing like using examples from history to elaborate on your own work. If you researched a historical period or event, and looked up contemporary documents, you can quote short passages to illustrate your thesis, footnoting source and author - preferably several different sources.  Handing in a seven-page passage from Gibbon with your own name on top of it is cheating.

Edited by Peterkin
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1 hour ago, Peterkin said:

I honestly don't know any more ways beyond those we've already tried to explain the difference.

I suppose we can just state that neither is conducive to learning or critical thinking and then move on.

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8 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I suppose we can just state that neither is conducive to learning or critical thinking and then move on.

Works for me!

43 minutes ago, Genady said:

four or more consecutive words without citation - plagiarism.

That's quite strict. I suppose the words would have to be distinctive enough (i.e. not "came from that direction"  or "a fat grey dog walked") to be recognizable. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't catch that... unless it were "It was the best of times;"

Edited by Peterkin
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10 minutes ago, Peterkin said:

That's quite strict. I suppose the words would have to be distinctive enough (i.e. not "came from that direction"  or "a fat grey dog walked") to be recognizable. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't catch that... unless it were "It was the best of times;"

Of course. This rule is designed to be used by a human, who can distinguish between a common speech and the content of an assignment, biology related in this case. 

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1 hour ago, Genady said:

In the school that I've mentioned in the OP, the definition was simple and technical: four or more consecutive words without citation - plagiarism.

Well that would make all mathematicians plagiarists.

But then I suppose we are very fond of plagiarizing the phrase 'if and only if'

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1 hour ago, Genady said:

Of course. This rule is designed to be used by a human, who can distinguish between a common speech and the content of an assignment, biology related in this case. 

On top of that, having many quotes, even with citations, was discouraged. Not as a plagiarism, but just as a sign of laziness. You better interpret and say it in your own words., with reference to the source.

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18 hours ago, CharonY said:

It seems to me that dimreepr might conflate plagiarism (passing someone's thoughts as one's own) with parroting. 

14 hours ago, Genady said:

On top of that, having many quotes, even with citations, was discouraged. Not as a plagiarism, but just as a sign of laziness. You better interpret and say it in your own words., with reference to the source.

Some of us aren't lazy, some of us just aren't capable; I couldn't write an essay if my life depended on it.

But I can string together a number of quotes with a coherent, if brief, explanation.

 

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40 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

I couldn't write an essay if my life depended on it.

Then you must 1. Approach your instructor and ask for remedial help. 2. Find out what the obstacles are and overcome them. 3. Pass your tests and exams with high enough grades to compensate for the poor term-mark. 4. Do not attempt to pursue higher education, or a career wherein communication skill is required. 

47 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Some of us aren't lazy, some of us just aren't capable; I couldn't write an essay if my life depended on it. But I can string together a number of quotes with a coherent, if brief, explanation.

That's a mini-essay right there. You didn't quote anybody or cut it out of a magazine: you made a clear statement about something you know of your own experience. So maybe you have to take a different approach to essay writing - for example, cut up the material into small enough sections to deal with individually, so that it's less intimidating and your attention doesn't wander. Those many quotes you want to string together - how did you select them? That was research. If you understand them, you can explain them. So, take each one and translate it into your own words. Then string those translations together. List your sources at the end, and you're not cheating.  

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