======= Date Modified 11 Aug 2011 18:51:06 =======
Today I've been proof-reading a PhD for an overseas student - methodology introductory chapter. Something wasn't quite ringing right, although it sounded good in places. So I Googled some of the sentences. EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH was copied. I've so far identified, in the first 4,000 words, 20+ different internet sources, most of them other people's published papers. But what has stunned me is that many of the copied paragraphs have often been replicated several times, in other papers. All of them, as this one was, were IT papers and theses.
It was a patchwork quilt in a quilted world of imaginary scholarship and needlecraft. How do they get away with it when we have Turnitin? Doesn't Computer Science realise that this may be endemic in their departments, for obvious reasons?
Naturally, I stopped work and sent back the quilt. But I think how hard I worked on my methodology, my weakness at the time, and had to work and work and work on it, before I found my voice and confidence in it. How cynical is it to believe, possibly quite rightly, that you can get away with cheating?
Unfortunately I think a lot of it has to do with the sense of entitlement and lack of accountability that exists in so many of our youth. I am 49 years old and about to start my PhD program; I was raised in a different era where it was continually impressed upon us to make something of ourselves and being told "cheaters never win"; obviously some are getting away with it, but then again a school can at anytime go back, and if they can prove plagiarism, they can revoke the degree. I hope for the sake of the rest of us and academia as a whole they do that, until they do, those contemplating doing the same will continue cheating. Unfortunately it is imperative that academia make examples out of these folks in order for the word to get out that plagiarism doesn't pay anymore. If a University gets involved in a major plagiarism scandal, they risk losing credibility and accreditation, and that is something that will hurt the rule abiding alumni the most.
This is terrible! I'm surprised too that it hasn't been detected.
Honestly, plagiarism scares me - it can be a grey area. I always worry that it might be considered by someone else that I've written too closely to something, and consequently put lots of references in at pretty much every idea to cover myself. But then I run the risk of someone perceiving that I haven't used my own voice or contributed my own ideas...but then virtually no idea is a new idea. So for me, it's really difficult sometimes. I try to write from my separate notes, but sometimes it's hard and i need to go back directly to the original article because i need more detail than my notes (or need to revisit from a different angle).
Am curious to hear how others deal with referencing (to check if my own methods can be improved).
Being in my 2nd year of my PhD I did tons of concentrated reading until not long ago and I couldn't believe the amount of blatant plagiarism I came across when reading journal articles in the some topic areas. We're talking whole paragraphs, not just sentences. In multiple papers. I was really gobsmacked (and mildly annoyed). Like you I'm surprised that people get away with it to such an extent as well, and some of them are well established people in the field. The worst case I came across I actually got really angry when reading the article, as it was literally a collation of paragraphs lifted from other papers and books I'd already read and which I therefore recognised straight away. I felt almost offended by the cheek! I wondered how you would go about naming and shaming such a paper, but then it's clearly gone through a clearance process to get published, so if nobody cared at that stage then maybe this is just something that happens generally in academia, and it's just us students that they enforce plagiarism rules with! I'm not impressed though.
And what about a colleague with whom you wrote and published an article and who then decides on her own initiative to copy and paraphrase full sections of the article, i.e., 4 full pages, (without even informing me and without quoting properly) ? Isn't it pure dishonesty and lack of respect ? I have just discovered this, and I am upset/disappointed/sad/DISGUSTED. This never happened to me, in my 15 years of teaching experience. I have to raise the issue with her, for I need to understand what was in her mind: vanity, opportunism, cynicism ? It is shocking to discover this, above all when considering that you usually write an article with a colleague you regard positively and trustfully.
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