Internet has created culture of plagiarism in Universities

By Derek Sooman on June 21, 2006, 1:41 PM
I am kind of envious of kids at University today, what with the Internet and search engines and everything. Think how much more drinking time in the student union I could have had if I could have simply fired up Google and proceeded to copy and paste someone else's essay, and then submitted it as my own. All over in less than an hour, I should think, leaving me more time to be an alcoholic and a womaniser.

According to Leeds Metropolitan University professor Sally Brown, the practice of stealing otherís work from the Net for University assignments has become very mainstream, to such an extent that today's college and university students have been brought up seeing nothing wrong with stealing other people's work at all.

In her paper, Prof Brown will say that many students do not necessarily see anything wrong with copying other people's work. Students, according to Prof Brown, say things such as, "If they are stupid enough to give us three assignments with the same deadline, what can they expect?" and "I just couldn't say it better myself."
Professor Brown has advocated several steps in tackling this. She recommends better attempts to deter and punish this behaviour; to make the penalties known and try to educate the students on the issue; to try to "design it out" - her preferred option - for example by setting assignments that required personal knowledge or keeping a diary or showing work in progress; and to change the culture in which students are working.

But with companies like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft working harder than ever to try to get the right information to us when we ask for it, this problem is unlikely to go away in a hurry.




User Comments: 13

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Phantasm66 said:
When I went to Uni, all we had was the stinking library. Hours spent using some horrid green screen computer terminal to find the right books that someone else had already checked out. With the Net, I could have been destroying my liver big time instead.
canadian said:
Im in high school right now, and my school, everyone is stupid and acually does their own work. But, also, my teachers are smart, and if you just ripp something from the net, my teachers acually take notice and realise its not your regular writing style.
DragonMaster said:
[quote] But, also, my teachers are smart, and if you just ripp something from the net, my teachers acually take notice and realise its not your regular writing style.[/quote]It happens to see people here that have their work returned with a bad note with the teacher telling them they've found the same text on the Internet. They say they've got software to find if you're cheating. I wonder if it's anything specialized or if they just use Copernic.
Illfated said:
Yes, because it's infinitely more clever to copy and paste someone else's paper.This is just like when music "sharing" was so popular that people didn't even see it as piracy. I find that more disturbing than the actual theft itself.
Illfated said:
[quote]It happens to see people here that have their work returned with a bad note with the teacher telling them they've found the same text on the Internet. They say they've got software to find if you're cheating. I wonder if it's anything specialized or if they just use Copernic. [/quote]Yes, one of my profs mentioned something about this. It's not exactly software. She said they send it off to some company to do it.
DragonMaster said:
[quote]She said they send it off to some company to do it. [/quote]Maybe they send off some suspicious-looking parts of the work to a company to look for this??EDIT:http://www.sunywcc.edu/library/research/plagwebsi
e/comp.htm
nic said:
Another reason why university degrees are worth less these days. To me the whole purpose of degrees is to separate the better students from the average students so that potential employers can pick the best ones. Everyone is getting better grades these days, so making degrees not worth the paper they are printed on. Courses are also getting easier.When I did my degree in electronics in the early 80s there had only ever been one 'first' class award in 15 years of running my course (5 yr honours degree). After several years it became normal for one/two 'first' class awards to be regularly handed out each year. The courses have become easier and finding information has also become easier due to the internet. plagiarism has boomed. Degrees have lost their value.
Phantasm66 said:
You used to have to get kick ass grades to get into University when I went. Now they just open the door.
asphix said:
Eh, complete copying of work is definitely a problem, but a lot of good comes from search engines as well. I was in college during the transition in which search engines became mainstream research mediums and I can certainly relate and acknowledge the probelm. IMO, if the tool is provided, you cant blame someone for using it. Its up to a professor to grade a student.. and that means they must not only instruct but guage the students performance. Ultimately I think its the professors job to work out these problems by developing new methods of teaching.Obviously the "write a paper, I read it" method isnt working anymore, so instead assign papers that are more specific to the person writing the paper. Require examples tied to class discussions. Require a presentation along with the paper so you can really get a feel for the students base knowledge on a subject.There are tons of ways to solve the issue, and my guess is any college thats worth the money you pay it has professors that realize this. Even during my college days which were transitionary, or more close to the post transitionary period (1999-2003) acknowledged this issue and built steps into their lesson plans and assignments to efficiently guage a students knowledge of a topic through critical thinking and application of knowledge.
nic said:
Despite any plagiarism that might go on, once a student lands a job and has to 'perform' that's when the truth comes out. You can't easily bluff your way in a real job that requires analytical skills. That's why experience and skills are valued more than qualifications. I'm all for lifelong education, but that doesn't necessarily mean doing a degree.[Edited by nic on 2006-06-21 16:14:18]
benner said:
anyone who plagiarises is a *****, you are paying thousands a year for a college education, why cheat? I have never plagiarised and i can't say i regret doing the work for my grades. College is more about developing the brain and teaching you how to think than actually telling you exactly what you need to know for your next job.
Xavien said:
Open University actually entices the use of the internet rather then rejects it. The tutors CAN see when you have copied someone elses work, so i dont really know what this Professor is worried about. Working towards a BA Degree with Honours in Computing right now with the Open University i can tell you now i would never copy essays from the internet. To me the Internet is for research purposes only, if i find something difficult to understand ill search on the internet for the subject to get a different viewpoint on the subject to understand it.If i do need to copy some parts of an article or such on the internet, as long as it's properly referenced and linked, the tutors dont mind.
jhencken said:
I'm sympathetic to your point, but notice that you have placed an apostrophe in the wrong place. I believe you want to say "others'" rather than "other's" -- unless you believe students are plagiarizing everything from just one other person.;-) Sorry to be flip. I'm being influenced by the other trait of contemporary students that bothers me!
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