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Don't plagiarize! (anecdote inside)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
hey folks, consider this a public service announcement to those who may be college students on these boards (or heck, even high school), and may be tempted by the internet as the new way to get straight a's in your courses...

recently, my wife who is a teaching assistant at a university, was slogging thru yet another 75 essays when, as she got towards the end of the pile, she said (paraphrased here): "um, didn't i just grade this paper?"

so she went back, and combed through the papers, and found the one that she suspected sounded similar. but there was a lot of rearranged quotes, different phrasing, synonyms exchanged... but they were just too similar to let go. and as insult to injury, these were two kids who had been absent from every class except the first one, and the last one before the essay was due, and had written to her via email about "how sorry they were -- how busy they had been, yadda, yadda, yadda, can you please tell us what's going to be on the exam and what the final essay is about..?"

anyway, i am so proud of my wife for figuring this out, because i am sure these kids thought "oh, hell, she probably doesn't even know what the internet is... she'll never find us out." i got news for you folks -- with some searches via sherlock, google, and a couple of anti-plagiarism sites, and BAM! she found the very web page which had the essay they had both copied.

she submitted it to an anti-plagiarism site for review of synonyms, common phrases, rearranged blocks, etc., and it returned a 95% likelihood of plagiarism. she submitted her findings to the professor, along with their piss-poor attendance record (guess what -- if you've been absent from a class all year, then turn in a perfect essay, you're either a prodigy, or cheating -- duh), and now they'll be expelled come the end of the semester.

of course, the irony is that if they just hadn't copied EACH OTHER (what morons), my wife might not have even noticed (and yes, the teaching assistants are usually so overworked and underpaid for their efforts that they don't have the ability to pursue anything less than a "sure thing" -- but that's no excuse to try to get away with it).

but my wife is a damn good person, and tries to do her best at grading stuff fairly, based upon the guidelines that her professors give her. She is one of the few teachers who actually gives a sh!t about her job, and loses sleep trying to help her students any time they need it, while still trying to work on her classes and dissertation and reserach and job (yes, many of her associates, past and present, don't give a crap about anything, but they'll get theirs someday).

she hated to have to be put in this position. it's a serious offense, and the submitting accuser can get severely reprimanded for falsely accusing someone. so she was scared to death, but felt compelled to do the right thing.

so, please, for your own sake and that of your teachers, don't cheat. bullshit if you must (i did through all of high school and college, and it has blessed me with exceptional interviewing skills ), but don't cheat. the consequences just aren't worth it.
post #2 of 9
That's a cool story!

Hate to sound like a Afterschool Special, but you're only cheating yourself when you do stuff like this.

You're spending your parents' (or in a few cases, your own...although I suspect those paying for their own education are probably a bit more on the ball and serious about it), and they have every right to kick your ass up and down the hallway if you get kicked out because you're too preoccupied with partying of getting some to actually do the work required.

Good for your wife.
post #3 of 9
Wow...expelled. That's brutal

I don't mean they shouldn't be, just that the benefits of turning in copied work (ie - more partying time) sure don't seem worth it when compared to the consequences.

Lesson learned I suppose, albeit the hard way!

Kudos to your wife.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
...and it doesn't help that there are sites feeding off this sort of thing, such as...

<a href="http://www.fastpapers.com/" target="_blank">http://www.fastpapers.com/</a>

i've got news for you: they get all the money, but YOU get in trouble for using them.
post #5 of 9
Anybody who would do something like that is in school for all the wrong reasons in the first place. Expelling them is probably doing them a favor, though I doubt they (or their parents) see it that way.
post #6 of 9
I go to a small school (1400 students). In my french class we were given a take-home test. I thought it was due the next week on Thursday, so I was working on it the Monday night of that same week in order to get a good jump on it because I had a lot of other work to due. Unfortunately, the prof had moved the due date to Tuesday; as a result, I had to run back to the dorm, grab my test, and turn in it half finished.

Later that day, the prof sent me an email because another student, who lives in the same hall as me, had turned in an IDENTICAL copy. By identical I mean letter-for-letter: all the misspellings, half-answered questions, and unique translations of various phrases were exact. The only exceptions to this were the three questions I filled in when I ran back to get my test. Needless to say I was a little worried as such a situation is incriminating, to say the least, and there is nothing I can do to prove I didn't cheat.

What happened was I naively left the test along with all my other massive piles of shit in our hall study lounge. Like I said, I go to a small school where everyone abides by the honor code. I didnt anticipate someone looking through all my work, finding this test, and copying what I had written. The other student, of course, denied any copying.

Fortunately, the prof let both of us retake the test in a controlled environment for a maximum of 80%. I ended up with a 72 (what would have been an A otherwise). The other student got a 42 because he's a liar, a cheater, and a flake who doesn't know the material.
post #7 of 9
I never copied anyone else paper. When I got out of high school I stopped all the "sliding" and did pretty much my own work. Some of those Classical Mechanics problems needed a little "help" getting the Lagrangian worked the right way but the profs always said we could "work together" but should do our own work. What ever that means.

Didn't some prof at UVA bust a bunch (40% of class) for the same thing. Typical UVA.
post #8 of 9
way back when i was in grade school (7th grade, i think) my mom and dad caught me copying a classmates paper to turn in, and my dad whipped my ass bad -- put the fear of god in me from that point forward. i never cheated again. sure, i didn't get the best grades in the world, but i did well in my major, and a nice clean conscience.

[ 12-29-2001: Message edited by: rok ]</p>
When you're lovers in a dangerous time,
You're made to feel as if your love's a crime.
Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.
Gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight.

When you're lovers in a dangerous time,
You're made to feel as if your love's a crime.
Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.
Gotta kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight.

post #9 of 9
I can't believe people would want to waste the money they (or their parents) are pouring into college, just to spend their time partying. Dear Lord. Then again, I'm at a disciplined prep school myself where personal honor is deeply ingrained. Guess I'm used to everyone working and everyone being good to their word.
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