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(Boston Herald)   125 students in Harvard "Introduction to Congress" class are under investigation for cheating and plagiarism; students face expulsion and lucrative patronage jobs if found guilty   (bostonherald.com) divider line 96
    More: Obvious, Harvard, associate dean, Harvard Crimson, found guilty, Drew Gilpin Faust, academic dishonesty  
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4451 clicks; posted to Main » on 31 Aug 2012 at 9:12 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-31 10:51:01 AM

Here's the best comment I've seen so far (it's from another site, and no, I didn't write it):

What's so pitiful about this story is that about 200 or so of our best and brightest had to cheat on an open book exam at a school where grade inflation is so rampant you would have to cite Ayn Rand or favorably refer to W. to get a B.
I think that sums it up pretty well.
 
2012-08-31 10:55:58 AM
I had to take the SAT twice, another student I knew made 1600 as well.

/we were not sitting anywhere near each other.

//before pagers and cell phones.

///get off my lawn.
 
2012-08-31 10:56:31 AM

Cybernetic: Here's the best comment I've seen so far (it's from another site, and no, I didn't write it):What's so pitiful about this story is that about 200 or so of our best and brightest had to cheat on an open book exam at a school where grade inflation is so rampant you would have to cite Ayn Rand or favorably refer to W. to get a B.I think that sums it up pretty well.


Brilliant!
 
2012-08-31 10:58:07 AM

RembrandtQEinstein: [southparkstudios.mtvnimages.com image 320x247]

Guess someone reached theese keeds 

/I plagiarized this image


Citation needed
 
2012-08-31 11:02:06 AM

TheDumbBlonde: bdub77: tenpoundsofcheese: bdub77: SFSailor: / why, yes, plagiarism bugs the hell out of me, as does the growing trend of not caring about it

Me too. But maybe you should stand up for your principles and get this guy canned. As far as ruining his life, well he ruined his own life by stealing others' intellectual work.

Or not vote for a ticket that has a plagiarist on it - it just makes it acceptable behavior.

You're so cute, you know that? I'd happily take a plagiarist with no power over two liars with no vision.

Then you'll get the world you deserve.


Your moniker is appropriate.
 
2012-08-31 11:05:23 AM
I teach English Composition at the university level, so I'm quite familiar with students plagiarizing. Most of them are so awful at it that I actually feel sorry for them. The most recent one involved a comparison essay analyzing two songs. One bright bulb went out to songfacts and straight out copied and pasted the comments into her paper, including the line from one guy whose band was going to remake the song. Most of the plagiarized papers I've caught are ripped from Internet sites. Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.

My favorites are the ones who clearly have no idea what some of the copied words even mean, things like moratorium or economies of scale. I don't use turnitin.com; there's no need. I get suspicious when a writer's "voice" changes from one sentence to the next or when a paragraph full of grammatical mistakes is followed by several perfect lines. A quick Google search, and I've found the original.

All of this happens after the discussion on plagiarism on the very first day of class. It's in my syllabus that you automatically fail the assignment if you plagiarize. I also fill out the paperwork to have it noted by the university. I then show them the stack of plagiarized papers that I've caught. Doesn't matter one bit. I'll have at least one plagiarized paper each semester. I keep copies for the inevitable grade challenge at the end of the semester. I find the plagiarized source and staple it to the paper.

Bottom line is that most of the students doing this just don't care. What sickens me is that I know this is happening in other classes where it isn't being caught. I have my suspicions that students are trading papers from different classes. They always act surprised when I tell them that they failed the assignment because they plagiarized it.
 
2012-08-31 11:06:12 AM
They should give everyone an A for appropriate. Reminds of an old joke. There is an advanced economics class for which the required textbook cost $500. This is a poor investment, so if anyone comes to class with the book they automatically fail.
 
2012-08-31 11:10:08 AM

Boudica's War Tampon: My engineering instructor had a great way of weeding out cheats in the big primary engineering course. In the circuit design section, he would take a device and blow it's image way up. Then he'd insert the semester date, then shrink the image back down.

Everyone was required to turn in a file with that circuit imagery in it. So he would go through each data file, find the device, zoom in on it and bingo. Another cheat. Next. Got another one. Next.


Maybe it's because I never took a circuit design class, but how does that help? Using last year's diagram isn't kosher?

For my own part, I was accused of cheating due to what I'll call an editing error. Later exonerated unanimously by the Judicial Board after 45 minutes of hearing + deliberations.

// same-day rulings are rare
// unanimous rulings even rarer
// the whole thing could have been solved if my teacher had used any sort of judgement, or if she didn't already suspect me of "something"
// "How's he doing so well if he skips so many lectures"?
// because I can read, and Nonverbal Communication isn't made up of too insanely hard concepts to grasp
 
2012-08-31 11:14:07 AM
So people who want to be in congress lie and cheat to attain personal goals?

Or it`s just people at harvard.
 
2012-08-31 11:22:24 AM
I teach at a University, and I have a silver bullet technique to prevent plagiarism on term papers: Require several drafts over the course of the semester.

This way you know students didn't rip a perfect paper from someone else, because you've seen the paper evolve from outline through a couple of versions.

You don't have to spend too much time grading each draft (check out a process called "Minimal Marking"), just enough to nudge the students in a better direction.

Of course, a student COULD download a perfect paper at the beginning and de-construct then re-construct it, but that would only make me laugh because they'd learn a ton in the process--despite themselves. 

(And, yeah I know, this wouldn't help in the take-home exam situation in TFA, but I thought I'd throw it in here to be helpful to any Farkers who teach and use term-paper assignments.)
 
2012-08-31 11:25:51 AM

Lydia_C: I'm a co-author on a paper that's currently in review at a journal. Their first vetting of the manuscript, before it's even been sent out to reviewers, was a pass through this plagiarism-detection software, which flagged a section describing the model we used. We were sent a note right away that we had to cite properly or re-write in our own words. We then had to explain that a) we *had* cited properly, to older versions of the same model, and b) the phrases highlighted for similarity were like that because we were pointing out where model parameterizations had not been changed, kind of an important thing for our readers to know. And sorry, but it's idiotic to try to find new and creative ways of saying "quadratic upstream scheme." It's like being told that because "peanut butter and jelly" was once mentioned in another paper, using the same phrase again is plagiarism.


I often appreciate copied methods sections. That way I don't have to try to root up the original, which was invariably published in some arcane, defunct, NATO conference held in Turkey, which no library seems to have archived.
 
2012-08-31 11:26:49 AM

bdub77: Me too. But maybe you should stand up for your principles and get this guy canned. As far as ruining his life, well he ruined his own life by stealing others' intellectual work.


Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think I might have to dust off the evidence and write a pissy letter. Wonder if I'd get more traction going to whatever passes for an ethics office at Harvard, or the Boston Globe.

Also, your sexism is showing. (Hint, not a he.)

Lydia_C: The growing trend of not caring about it? Are you kidding me?


Generally. Thanks to the web, there is a growing herd of people who really don't see copy-pasting as wrong. Hell, there are people who make money shamelessly copy-pasting (read almost anything on eHow or about, if you need examples). You're an academic, so you're sensitive to the issue. I have had a reasonable number of discussions with people outside academia who (a) don't get that plagiarism is wrong and (b) don't see any value in an authorship credit. Plagiarism is growing in acceptance, and the complaint about vigor that you make actually warms my heart -- glad to hear that some are pushing back.

Seems like that growing monitoring is important, since...

Lydia_C: And sorry, but it's idiotic to try to find new and creative ways of saying "quadratic upstream scheme."


... you don't seem to care too much, either. It's simple, really, either provide a reference acknowledgment to the original phrasing, or use your own words.

In one of the examples I found by my target, there was a phrase that, it turned out, had been used dozens of times. An eloquent turn of phrase that succinctly described something. Funny thing, I knew the person who wrote it originally. In the dozens of times it was subsequently used, most, but not all, introduced the phrase, put quotes around it, and cited it. This is what should be done. Some simply cited it. OK, at least you acknowledged the line.

But,

Some cited a publication that had reused it -- WTF? (A) How lazy is that? (B) How can I trust anything else you say? This is at least questionable.

Some didn't cite it, and didn't cite the original publication or any of the subsequent uses. This is clearly plagiarism.

If you want to use "peanut butter and jelly", then you need to say, "My preferred sandwich, as originally described by Dr. Breadstuffin, consists of 'peanut butter and jelly'.[1]"

Or come up with a new way of saying it. "The proper ratio of jelly combined with peanut butter, when placed between two slices of bread, is delicious."

In my case, though, whole paragraphs were often lifted. I'm flummoxed both by the idea that someone -- who is a PROFESSOR at HARVARD -- thinks that's ok... and that senior authors on the paper didn't catch it: From what I found, there -has- to be a discrepancy between the author's daily communication and their draft publications.

Now, to see if my laziness trumps my anger at the theft. Might have to start with checking on whether the researcher is even still there. Hopefully not.
 
2012-08-31 11:28:02 AM

This text is now purple: I often appreciate copied methods sections. That way I don't have to try to root up the original, which was invariably published in some arcane, defunct, NATO conference held in Turkey, which no library seems to have archived.


Sure, then cite it, introduce it and put quotes around it. Or at least cite it. I'm talking about full paragraphs lifted completely without attribution, including not even attributing the original in the references *at*all*.
 
2012-08-31 11:34:29 AM
How can you cheat at Harvard....everyone knows that they are the worst when it comes to Grade Inflation

With all the bedwetter libs and affirmative-action tokens at that school....they fail no one
 
2012-08-31 11:35:28 AM
2.bp.blogspot.com
Sympathizes...
 
2012-08-31 11:38:14 AM

bdub77: TheDumbBlonde: bdub77: tenpoundsofcheese: bdub77: SFSailor: / why, yes, plagiarism bugs the hell out of me, as does the growing trend of not caring about it

Me too. But maybe you should stand up for your principles and get this guy canned. As far as ruining his life, well he ruined his own life by stealing others' intellectual work.

Or not vote for a ticket that has a plagiarist on it - it just makes it acceptable behavior.

You're so cute, you know that? I'd happily take a plagiarist with no power over two liars with no vision.

Then you'll get the world you deserve.

Your moniker is appropriate.


That's the trap, Einstein.
 
2012-08-31 11:40:02 AM

SFSailor: Some didn't cite it, and didn't cite the original publication or any of the subsequent uses. This is clearly plagiarism.

If you want to use "peanut butter and jelly", then you need to say, "My preferred sandwich, as originally described by Dr. Breadstuffin, consists of 'peanut butter and jelly'.[1]"

Or come up with a new way of saying it. "The proper ratio of jelly combined with peanut butter, when placed between two slices of bread, is delicious."


There is no need to attribute the original for a concept or phrase which has become generic and common sense.

Otherwise every communication requires an appendix attachment of the OED.
 
2012-08-31 11:45:41 AM

SFSailor: Also, your sexism is showing. (Hint, not a he.)


You've got me there, guilty as charged, but then you never really stated the sex to begin with so I just went with my base assumption :)
 
2012-08-31 11:48:28 AM

bdub77: SFSailor: Also, your sexism is showing. (Hint, not a he.)

You've got me there, guilty as charged, but then you never really stated the sex to begin with so I just went with my base assumption :)


Making assumptions seems to be a skill for you.
 
2012-08-31 11:58:27 AM
A cheating scandal is unfolding behind the hallowed halls of Harvard University where as many as 125 students are under investigation for collaborating on a take-home final exam

The real scandal is how farking retarded the dipshiat teacher was for being surprised students may have collaborated on a take home exam. How the fark can someone that stupid be a University professor, let alone at Harvard?
 
2012-08-31 12:03:40 PM

SFSailor: This text is now purple: I often appreciate copied methods sections. That way I don't have to try to root up the original, which was invariably published in some arcane, defunct, NATO conference held in Turkey, which no library seems to have archived.

Sure, then cite it, introduce it and put quotes around it. Or at least cite it. I'm talking about full paragraphs lifted completely without attribution, including not even attributing the original in the references *at*all*.


I sincerely appreciate a short summary of methods/models in every paper, and it's why I prefer to include them - ALWAYS with the cite to the original full description, because why not, especially if you were a co-author on the original?

SFSailor, I think you missed the part where I mentioned that we had in fact cited previous versions of the model correctly, and what was being flagged were phrase that described features of the model itself. To go through the contortions that you then described, such as

Or come up with a new way of saying it. "The proper ratio of jelly combined with peanut butter, when placed between two slices of bread, is delicious."

is a waste of time, and actually muddies the waters in a scientific paper. Maybe a better parallel I can draw is with the phrase "automatic transmission." Do you really think it's necessary, or even wise, to keep coming up with ever more flowery descriptions of what an automatic transmission is when the simple phrase would make it absolutely clear what you were talking about?

I do care about plagiarism. I'm annoyed by the knee-jerk responses of editors who should be able to use their judgment instead of going solely by what some software algorithm flags. IMHO, in the world of science publications, such unthinking response by the editors betrays the financial interests of the commercial publishers, and has little to do with integrity of research.
 
2012-08-31 12:22:16 PM

windstrider: I Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.


I'm not even sure this is inappropriate. If I look up a word in the dictionary, I'm not going to cite the dictionary. If I say so-and-so was born in 1932, why should I need to cite it?

If i'm just using generally accepted facts, why should it need a citation? And what is the point in rephrasing it 'in my own words'?
 
2012-08-31 12:25:39 PM

Lydia_C: is a waste of time, and actually muddies the waters in a scientific paper.


I have no idea where these other people are coming from. I've got my own peer reviewed published science papers (and am just about to submit another!) and I completely agree with you. Coming up with a new way of saying it is amazingly stupid, indeed it's a huge dick move. You use what was previously said exactly the way it was said and you cite them. Changing what the said seems to suggest you're trying to not give them credit for their idea.

Also, while I agree with you in sentiment here:

Lydia_C: I sincerely appreciate a short summary of methods/models in every paper, and it's why I prefer to include them - ALWAYS with the cite to the original full description, because why not, especially if you were a co-author on the original?


In actual practice, I have 55,000 characters or less. So I'll write the paper how I want and if I'm over, the very first thing I'm cutting is methods and replacing it with a citation. An undergraduate who is reading my paper will have no farking clue how I did it. They will have to do a lot of digging to figure that shiat out. I'm talkin dozens of papers or more. Another lab in my field won't even need the methods section but might give it a quick glance. Honestly, I think that's the best way to do it too. Whoever figured out how to do it first should get the credit. You wanna see how I did it? I stole it from them, go read their paper.
 
2012-08-31 12:28:43 PM

The Jami Turman Fan Club: windstrider: I Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.

I'm not even sure this is inappropriate. If I look up a word in the dictionary, I'm not going to cite the dictionary. If I say so-and-so was born in 1932, why should I need to cite it?

If i'm just using generally accepted facts, why should it need a citation? And what is the point in rephrasing it 'in my own words'?


You think windstrider is talking about students who are taking single words from various sources?
 
2012-08-31 12:30:18 PM
Tell em, tell em!!!! Why we got our asses kicked in Korea.
collider.com
 
2012-08-31 01:26:38 PM

lennavan: The real scandal is how farking retarded the dipshiat teacher was for being surprised students may have collaborated on a take home exam. How the fark can someone that stupid be a University professor, let alone at Harvard?


I've got to defend the professor here.

My school often allowed students to take exams home. It was part of the University's honor code: instructors didn't overly suspect students...and students didn't take advantage of professors.

It works. An honor code violation was seen -- by pretty much everyone -- as an expellable offense.

In all my time at the University, I never once cheated. Not as an undergrad...and, not as a grad/professional student.
 
2012-08-31 01:30:31 PM

eraser8: lennavan: The real scandal is how farking retarded the dipshiat teacher was for being surprised students may have collaborated on a take home exam. How the fark can someone that stupid be a University professor, let alone at Harvard?

I've got to defend the professor here.

My school often allowed students to take exams home. It was part of the University's honor code: instructors didn't overly suspect students...and students didn't take advantage of professors.

It works. An honor code violation was seen -- by pretty much everyone -- as an expellable offense.

In all my time at the University, I never once cheated. Not as an undergrad...and, not as a grad/professional student.


It's still stupid. It's like sticking a steak in front of my face and telling me not to eat it. A good 95 times out of 100 I'm not going to eat it but you don't get to be shocked at the 5 times I do. And you're a huge dick for doing it.

The plagiarism is bad. The "cheating" by working together is really farking stupid.
 
2012-08-31 01:37:53 PM

The Jami Turman Fan Club: windstrider: I Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.

I'm not even sure this is inappropriate. If I look up a word in the dictionary, I'm not going to cite the dictionary. If I say so-and-so was born in 1932, why should I need to cite it?

If i'm just using generally accepted facts, why should it need a citation? And what is the point in rephrasing it 'in my own words'?


I probably wasn't as clear as needed. What they were doing is lifting whole sections from different websites and then rearranging the paragraphs in a different organization. These sentences were word-for-word taken from the original sources, no paraphrasing whatsoever. I actually went through line by line and marked the various websites where these sentences had come from.
 
2012-08-31 01:40:47 PM

lennavan: It's still stupid. It's like sticking a steak in front of my face and telling me not to eat it. A good 95 times out of 100 I'm not going to eat it but you don't get to be shocked at the 5 times I do. And you're a huge dick for doing it.


I disagree. I think that holding students to high standards is a good thing.

I don't think you're a dick for setting out what's permitting in collaboration and what isn't and expecting students to abide by those rules.

I've always said that there are too many kids on my lawn...but, I can't fault a professor or university for setting out the rules in extraordinary clarity and then doing exactly what they promised to do when the students cheated.
 
2012-08-31 01:44:56 PM

lennavan: The Jami Turman Fan Club: windstrider: I Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.

I'm not even sure this is inappropriate. If I look up a word in the dictionary, I'm not going to cite the dictionary. If I say so-and-so was born in 1932, why should I need to cite it?

If i'm just using generally accepted facts, why should it need a citation? And what is the point in rephrasing it 'in my own words'?

You think windstrider is talking about students who are taking single words from various sources?


Thank you. By "bits and pieces" I meant whole sentences.

And then there was the one who copied a chapter out of a book that could be found on Google books. She rearranged various sections, but it was nearly a word-for-word copy of the original. She didn't try to fight that accusation. Some do, even when presented with the proof. The worst offender worked for the university. Another student ratted her out by telling me that she was buying papers from other students. I wish I had the proof to make that accusation.
 
2012-08-31 01:51:35 PM

eraser8: lennavan: It's still stupid. It's like sticking a steak in front of my face and telling me not to eat it. A good 95 times out of 100 I'm not going to eat it but you don't get to be shocked at the 5 times I do. And you're a huge dick for doing it.

I disagree. I think that holding students to high standards is a good thing.

I don't think you're a dick for setting out what's permitting in collaboration and what isn't and expecting students to abide by those rules.

I've always said that there are too many kids on my lawn...but, I can't fault a professor or university for setting out the rules in extraordinary clarity and then doing exactly what they promised to do when the students cheated.


I think that's just setting them up to fail. I'd rather focus on setting students up to succeed. You stick them in the right scenario with the right tools to do the right thing. Not stick them in the worst scenario with temptations and hope they do the right thing.

I got no beef with doing what they promised when they cheated, I just think take home exams with rules just sets students up to fail. That's the major point I'm making here. Subsequent to that, I think it's amazingly stupid to create rules. College is supposed to prepare you for the real world. The real world doesn't have "you can't work together" rules. Quite the contrary, the real world might force you to work together. Why should college have these artificial rules?

That's how I set my classes up at least.
 
2012-08-31 02:03:58 PM

windstrider: lennavan: The Jami Turman Fan Club: windstrider: I Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.

I'm not even sure this is inappropriate. If I look up a word in the dictionary, I'm not going to cite the dictionary. If I say so-and-so was born in 1932, why should I need to cite it?

If i'm just using generally accepted facts, why should it need a citation? And what is the point in rephrasing it 'in my own words'?

You think windstrider is talking about students who are taking single words from various sources?

Thank you. By "bits and pieces" I meant whole sentences.

And then there was the one who copied a chapter out of a book that could be found on Google books. She rearranged various sections, but it was nearly a word-for-word copy of the original. She didn't try to fight that accusation. Some do, even when presented with the proof. The worst offender worked for the university. Another student ratted her out by telling me that she was buying papers from other students. I wish I had the proof to make that accusation.


I had a student print out a word-for-word copy of a paper turned in to a different section of the same class. I busted him because I thought it was odd the name on the top of the typed paper was whited out and his name was written over the white out. I had another student once turn in a quiz with an answer like "photosynthesis." The actual answer was "12." Photosynthesis was the answer to the quiz the person next to him was taking, I make two quizzes and alternate students.

I'm sure you are as well, I was shocked at the sheer laziness in plagiarism. I always tell my students not to cheat but if they do, at least don't insult my intelligence in the process. Also, like you said, the balls on these kids after they get busted are ridiculous. I've heard stories of students getting lawyers and taking other professors to court, even with concrete evidence proving their guilt.

CSB - I have to tell you my favorite cheating story. A girl once took a biology exam and turned it in. The TAs then each take a question and grade that question on all of the exams writing comments and notes for partial credit and whatnot. We also photocopied her exam before returning it (other students too, not just her) because her TA had a feeling. She turned it back in for a re-grade. In comparing it to the photocopy, the exam was completely different. This girl had somehow taken a second copy of the exam, hid it in her backpack or something and then re-filled it out this time with better answers. She even got out a red pen and made comments and grade marks and whatnot all over it too. That chick had balls, ingenuity and effort. I mean it's bad but you secretly want to reward it too. Can you imagine the high that girl must have felt first sitting in the exam knowing she was going to do it and then at home when she was actually filling it back out and making the fake grading comments? Man that must have felt good.
/CSB
 
2012-08-31 02:05:17 PM

lennavan: The real world doesn't have "you can't work together" rules.


You are misunderstanding.

The rules that are set up don't say, "you can't work together."

What they do is establish LIMITS to collaboration.

When I was an undergrad, I had a friend who got a rather severe letter from the dreaded Committee on Academic Appraisal and Achievement -- because his problem set answers were far too similar to others in the class. And, the truth is the C-AAA was correct: my friend did copy from others.

On the other hand, when I was an undergrad working on problem sets in economics, I always belonged to a group that worked together. We came to solutions together. We came to an understanding together. But, we wrote our answers down independently. And, we did that because our understanding of the issues -- though similar -- were actually independent (and, occasionally, slightly different).

In other words, our collaboration was acceptable under the rules imposed by the professor.

So, I'm not arguing against collaboration. It's good that students work together. But, it's BAD if students don't have an INDEPENDENT understanding of the material. It's BAD if they're just copying from one another.

I never once violated my University's Honor Code or Fundamental Standard. I'm pretty sure that anyone accepted to Harvard or Radcliffe is capable of the same sort of honesty. If not, they don't belong at the school.
 
2012-08-31 02:11:16 PM

eraser8: The rules that are set up don't say, "you can't work together."


Er, yeah actually sometimes they are.

FTFA - as many as 125 students are under investigation for collaborating on a take-home final exam

Oh noes, people working together!

eraser8: In other words, our collaboration was acceptable under the rules imposed by the professor.


Right but there are plenty of cases where collaboration is not acceptable. It seems this article is one of those cases.

eraser8: But, it's BAD if students don't have an INDEPENDENT understanding of the material. It's BAD if they're just copying from one another.


I agree. Copying is plagiarism and I said from the start, the plagiarism part is bad. But you don't create a take-home exam to examine a person's independent understanding of material. When you do and when students collaborate and have similar answers, it's not shocking news.

FTFA - found a class with more than 250 take-home examinations given out at the end of the semester came under suspicion because answers were so similar.

Or apparently it is.
 
2012-08-31 02:35:51 PM

lennavan: Er, yeah actually sometimes they are.


Okay, fine. I should have explained that I'm extrapolating from my personal experience in saying that a professor would NEVER command, "you can't work together."

I suppose it's possible that wasn't the case under the immediate circumstances. I don't think it's likely; but, it is possible...so, I concede the point.

lennavan: But you don't create a take-home exam to examine a person's independent understanding of material.


I don't see why not.

Let's face it: this was a government exam. In other words, it was purely fuzzy. This wasn't mathematics or physics -- in which cases the correct (or, best) answer would have been determinate. I suspect (of course, I don't know this for sure) each answer would have been in the from of an essay.

So, let's say there were strict rules against collaboration (which I seriously doubt). Even if the students cheated by collaborating, they should have been able to express themselves in a way sufficiently unique as to avoid the suspicion of impropriety. The fact that the students are in the mess they're in suggests to me that the cheating went beyond mere collaboration. From the facts, I suspect the answers extended into a common, "borrowed" phraseology.

And, if you're a professor that sees the same idea expressed -- time after time -- in incredibly similar terms, you're going to be suspicious. Or, at least, I would be.

In other words, even if students collaborated, there should be a significant gap between the solution and the way that solution was expressed.
 
2012-08-31 02:43:45 PM

eraser8: Okay, fine. I should have explained that I'm extrapolating from my personal experience in saying that a professor would NEVER command, "you can't work together."


My calculus professor long ago told us that on a take home calc exam. No outside help, no working together etc. So if nothing else, my personal anecdote counters your usage of "never."

eraser8: so, I concede the point.


K.

eraser8: From the facts, I suspect the answers extended into a common, "borrowed" phraseology.


No doubt. And?

eraser8: And, if you're a professor that sees the same idea expressed -- time after time -- in incredibly similar terms, you're going to be suspicious. Or, at least, I would be.


Definitely. It seems to me there is no doubt the kids worked together. I'm sure if I saw the papers I would be completely convinced. That's not what I'm arguing here, I'm arguing "they worked together, so farking what?"

eraser8: lennavan: But you don't create a take-home exam to examine a person's independent understanding of material.

I don't see why not.


Take this article for instance. You set a bunch of kids up to fail and shock/dismay, they failed. Now because you were too farking lazy to come up with another way to examine their independent understanding you have a bunch of kids in trouble with the dean.
 
2012-08-31 02:44:37 PM
They appear to have mastered the curriculum.
 
2012-08-31 02:54:16 PM

lennavan: eraser8: And, if you're a professor that sees the same idea expressed -- time after time -- in incredibly similar terms, you're going to be suspicious. Or, at least, I would be.

Definitely. It seems to me there is no doubt the kids worked together. I'm sure if I saw the papers I would be completely convinced. That's not what I'm arguing here, I'm arguing "they worked together, so farking what?"


Here's the thing: if I'm explaining to someone how the Fed lowers interest rates through open market mechanisms, that explanation is going to be stamped with my persona, my linguistic fingerprint. That is, anyone else explaining the issue will have a type-token ratio or lexical density very, very different from my own.

But, if the style is extraordinarily similar, if the the same phrases come across time and time again (outside of lingo), I'm going to suspect cheating.

Again, collaboration may result in similar conclusions but it WILL NOT produce similar styles. Outside of lingo, the pacing, the word choices, the cadence will be very, very different...but only IF the passages were independently written.
 
2012-08-31 02:57:08 PM

eraser8: Here's the thing


Again, I get it, I just don't care.
 
2012-08-31 02:58:42 PM

lennavan: eraser8: Here's the thing

Again, I get it, I just don't care.


Yeah, we'll just have to agree to disagree.
 
2012-08-31 05:33:41 PM

windstrider: I teach English Composition at the university level, so I'm quite familiar with students plagiarizing. Most of them are so awful at it that I actually feel sorry for them. The most recent one involved a comparison essay analyzing two songs. One bright bulb went out to songfacts and straight out copied and pasted the comments into her paper, including the line from one guy whose band was going to remake the song. Most of the plagiarized papers I've caught are ripped from Internet sites. Then there are the ones who think they're being clever by taking bits and pieces from different sources and mixing them all together.


I have a friend who does the adjunct + community college teaching thing. Almost all of her classes are/have been in "language arts" or theatre and have a strong writing component.

She got so tired of plagiarism that she eventually made students write essays in class (like, a few each semester). She would tell the students that they would have to write an essay on either of three topics; she would give them a few days to "research" the topics beforehand (i.e., the essays weren't pop-quiz style...the kids knew beforehand that they'd have to write).

No more plagiarism.

Added bonus? Since the students only had an hour or so to write the essays, my friend spent fewer hours grading each week; that is to say, each essay was shorter than the home-written ones so she didn't have to spend nearly as many hours reading them (or Googling the plagiarized lines for proof of cheating).
 
2012-08-31 05:42:39 PM

lennavan: A cheating scandal is unfolding behind the hallowed halls of Harvard University where as many as 125 students are under investigation for collaborating on a take-home final exam

The real scandal is how farking retarded the dipshiat teacher was for being surprised students may have collaborated on a take home exam. How the fark can someone that stupid be a University professor, let alone at Harvard?


Several renowned schools have take-home exams for undergrad. Caltech is one of them. They actually expect their students to adhere to the Honor Code.
 
2012-08-31 06:32:55 PM
Thread's dead, and I'll be gone shortly for at least the weekend, but I hate not replying to thoughtful replies in a thoughtful thread....

This text is now purple: There is no need to attribute the original for a concept or phrase which has become generic and common sense.

Otherwise every communication requires an appendix attachment of the OED.


I think we've bashed well into the farrrr end of the curve here. I'd reply "but, how do you determine if something is 'generic' or 'common sense'? Clear, characteristic phrases originated somewhere. One or two word noun phrases? No, that doesn't need citation... but a sentence of extraordinarily clear communicative power? That deserves recognition and acknowledgement. Putting words together to convey an idea takes work, and deserves credit.

bdub77: You've got me there, guilty as charged, but then you never really stated the sex to begin with


No, I didn't. Intentionally. There are few other details, too, that make it either too easy to judge or too engraging, depending on one's perspective. Wanted to avoid any immediate, "of course! Girls can't do science!" or the like. It's irrelevant anyway.

Lydia_C: such unthinking response by the editors betrays the financial interests of the commercial publishers


I think we fundamentally agree, but I'd be curious to read an expansion on this idea. Do you mean that you think they are overly concerned about plagiarism litigation? Or is there some other financial interest served by being particularly sensitive to lifted material?

Also, while I like your "automatic transmission" example (and do think things like proper nouns or noun phrases words are fine in most cases; it's really more large sentence fragments / whole sentences / paragraphs(!) that bother me), I'd hasten to point out that there as TurboHydramatics, Torque Flights, 7G-Tronics, etc... which, of course, are protected trademarks and due acknowledgement as such when used. ; )

I do think the notion that the basic methods section of papers cranked out from the same study can be lifted entirely or partially, if given credit, and the seemingly increasing demand to "reword everything in fresh language" there, in that specific case, is misguided.

So, I think, we're on the same page. I still agree with a strict-checking approach and putting the burden of explanation / citation / reworking on the author, and I would think all published authors would prefer it err on the side of too picky... but maybe I'm the only one.

lennavan: I was shocked at the sheer laziness in plagiarism.


Really? People suck. People are lazy, stupid and greedy. Not you people; you people are great. But everyone else sucks.

Probably the most self-serving, pseudo-legitimate-but-absolutely-wrong excuse I've heard is from ESL researchers, "I don't speak English natively, so I just use other people's sentences when they say what I want to say." No, sorry. Get a co-author to help you, or attribute the work correctly, or read tons of American fiction and nonfiction and improve your language. Don't steal, you lazy POS. At least, as pointed out in the great examples here, with students, many of them have the self-awareness to own it and be ashamed / guilty. 

Have a nice weekend, y'all -- hope your weather's nice!
 
2012-08-31 07:45:18 PM

grokca: HailRobonia: The Muthaship: Why cheat at Harvard? Everybody gets an A anyway.

Sometimes you get an A-, because penmanship counts, dammit!

[i.imgur.com image 159x220]

Doesn't everyone type now?


Can you get an 'A' for typing? Typingsmanship??

/better yet for being able to spell and create decent structure.
 
2012-09-01 01:04:32 AM

Lydia_C:
I'm a co-author on a paper that's currently in review at a journal. Their first vetting of the manuscript, before it's even been sent out to reviewers, was a pass through this plagiarism-detection software, which flagged a section describing the model we used. We were sent a note right away that we had to cite properly or re-write in our own words. We then had to explain that a) we *had* cited properly, to older versions of the same model, and b) the phrases highlighted for similarity were like that because we were pointing out where model parameterizations had not been changed, kind of an important thing for our readers to know. And sorry, but it's idiotic to try to find new and creative ways of saying "quadratic upstream scheme." I ...


We ran into different problem, the plagiarism-detection software was using references that were plagiarized off the Internet and were indicating that our citations were wrong. The idiot instructor and the Dean failed my wife for the paper then when we challenged them, failed her for the course. After appealing to the appeals committee and providing evidence that proved the incompetence of the Dean and instructor, my wife was found innocent of any wrong doing - this only took TWO MONTHS. Then she had to take the course over because she didn't finish it (she was forced to leave!). We appealed to the Board of Governors and VP, as she was being financially and emotionally punished for being proven not guilty. So now she has to write a few papers instead.

And get this, the Dean is out to get my wife for standing up to her.
 
2012-09-01 02:22:31 AM
Echoing the sentiment of "done in two." Honestly, cheating in a class on Congress? I'd call that "applying what you've learned."
 
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