Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Digital Plagiarism

Copy this.

Me: Let’s talk about your paper. This isn’t your work, is it?
“Yes it is. It’s my paper.”

Me: No, you copied it from a website you found on the internet.
“But it’s my paper; I wrote it.”

Me: You wrote some of it. The rest of it you copied.
“No, I didn’t. I cut and pasted it and wrote it in my own words.”

Me: Those aren’t your own words. Some of it is, but most of it isn’t.
“Yeah. It’s my paper.”

Me: This isn’t your paper.
“Yes it is.”

Me: No it isn’t. You copied it, you may have changed a few words, but you copied it. That’s called plagiarism.  You need to do the paper over again and resubmit your own work.
“This is my work.”

Me: This is someone else’s work.
“No. I wrote it down on that paper; it’s my paper - my work.”

How do you define, plagiarism?  In the past few years, I have experienced conversations like this one more often than I care to count. This particular student is 22 years old. Something got lost in his education somewhere and he clearly does not understand that the Internet does not mean FREE-for-ALL on other people’s work.

Other than having a specific program for scoping out possible plagiarised papers, Google is a text-based search engine. All you have to do is copy and paste a sentence into Google and if it is a quote from a web-page that Google hosts, it will find it.

In 0.98 seconds:

Even after demonstrating my Sherlock discovery, my student still did not get it. He is firm in his belief that if he copied and pasted parts of someone else’s work into a paper with his name on it, then the work is his. At least, in his paper anyway (finders keepers?).

Me: What if someone copies your work, pastes into their own paper and puts their name on it? Does that make it their work?
                “Well yeah because it’s their paper.”


The Internet is an open door that is waiting to be copied. If this is the way our learners are thinking, then we clearly have some work to do. 

Don't Plagiarise Rap: 

What are some of your best plagiarised moments with your students?  
How did you handle it? 
What lessons were learned? 

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