The Waiting Room

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Here We Go Again

Posted by Seeking Solace |

One of my law students submitted a rough draft of a paper reaking of plagiarism. Not only did he copy word for word from one particular source without citing it, he took information from the same source and cited it under another author's name.

It took me only 15 minutes to find the document that he used. I went through it, highlighting the sections that he copied in his paper and noting the paragraph and line number in his paper. I sent him an email saying he needed to see me ASAP.

He eventually stopped by. I explained to him in a non accusatory way that I had serious issues about his sources. I explained that I checked his sources and it appeared that some are suspect. He just brushed it off as not knowing how to properly cite information.'re a senior and you don't know how to do WHAT?

I gave him the MLA guide that I give my freshman CT students. I also told him that I would look at another draft if he wished. I warned him that if his final paper was anything like his draft, he would fail the course.

My attorney-brain tells me that he realized that he got caught trying to be slick. The teacher portion of my brain tells me that it is entirely possible that he never learned proper citation form, or he was allowed to slide with improper or incorrect citations. I made a copy of his draft with my comments on it, just in case. I just hope he cleans up his paper.

Either way, I am frustrated. I hope that he just didn't know better.


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

and.. my philosopher brain says it is probably a combination of those... He was trying to be slick and type stuff he didn't write BECAUSE he didn't know how to cite stuff -- So, instead of learning how to do it, he took the easy way out.

I handed back a draft like that a few years ago with some scathing comments about plagarism, and a couple of snide comments about doing it properly (in the middle of the paper he left in "In this essay I will prove -- on pg 8).

I got nothing from the dude for a while, until the week before the final version was due... then I got a story about a lost laptop and the need to start over on a different topic. I let the lie go and accepted the final version -- it was poorly written and researched, but at least it was his....

Astroprof said...

Yeah, it is that time of the year. They are not even smart about plagiarism. I keep thinking that I will eventually have a semester when I don't find a plagiarized paper. Every semester I am disappointed.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

it must be post about plagerism day...or maybe it's the end of the semester looming that brings it out in the student? Your's is one in many post complaining about this that I've read today.

Addy N. said...

I get the exact same thing and it pisses me off to no end. How am I supposed to believe that in FOUR years of college, a student has never been instructed to cite sources properly? I always have a hard time believing that. I had two students in an upper level class who plagiarized about 20% of their papers (based on TurnItIn reports), so I docked their grades by the percent that wasn't original. I got an email from one of them this morning, who pleaded ignorance. I almost believe her, because she seems to be a good student, but it isn't fair to let her do the work that way. I'm meeting with her tomorrow.

Mad Hatter said...

I think if you've told them that they are expected to properly cite sources, and given them a source of information on how to format citations, then there's no excuse for them using the ignorance plea for plagiarizing. I agree with Inside the Philosophy Factory that the student was just trying to slide it past you because he was too lazy to do it the right way.

Psycgirl said...

I'm lucky, in my program the courses I teach always come after research methods, where I know they learned how to cite. I put it right in my syllabus now - saying you don't know how is not an excuse, because if you don't know how you're expected to come see me so I can show you. And then I say "Look at the back of your textbook. See all those citations? Copy them. Plug in your info. Voila!" I also make sure I tell them how plaigarism is disrespectful to people who spend lifetimes doing research. (I know it sounds dramatic, but I try to show them that there are consequences beyond their grade in a scientific community)

You're much nicer than I am, I would have failed him. I have pretty zero tolerance for plaigarism and I think too many people get away with it here at MSCU because we're afraid of the drama that ensues. I bet he will never turn in the paper again!

Seeking Solace said...

Psycgirl: If it had been his final submission, he would be toast. Since it was a draft, I wanted to give him fair warning.