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Plagiarism still a problem, technology not helping

by admin February 1, 2011

Plagiarism still a problem, technology not helping

by admin February 1, 2011

Every semester most students at Concordia are greeted, whether in their syllabuses or by their professors, with a stern message about plagiarism. While these discussions of sourcing and bibliographies may feel repetitive semester after semester, copying material without proper attribution and even buying papers are ongoing problems at the university, ones that have been taken to different levels with the Internet.

“Recently, we’ve discovered something that was quite troubling,” said Ollivier Dyens, vice-provost of teaching and learning. “A website that will actually write the essay for you, completely new, for a very little amount of money.”

According to Dyens, Concordia has about 400 cases of plagiarism a year, and technology has played an important role in that high number, with websites that offer completed assignments and answers to exam or homework questions.

Dyens spoke last Thursday along with arts and science code administrator Csaba Nikolenyi on the issue of academic integrity as part of the university’s Open to Question series.

“Plagiarism is a complex issue,” said Dyens. “There’s no silver bullet to tackle the issue; there’s all sorts of different things going on, it’s not easy.”

Misconceptions about plagiarism were also discussed by Dyens. He stated that most students found guilty at the undergraduate level do not have low grade point averages. “That’s not the case; a lot of them have good GPAs, many of them have average GPAs, and most of them are in good academic standing,” he said.

Dyens also stated that students found guilty are not criminals, and most are honest, but make the mistake of plagiarizing because of poor time management skills.

While technology has contributed to the instances of plagiarism, it also helps the university detect these cases. The speakers referenced a new software piloted last fall called Turnitin which can determine if part of a paper is in fact plagiarized.

Both speakers also mentioned other methods to tackle the problem.

“The single best guarantee to protect academic integrity that we can have as faculty members is our own conduct,” said Nikolenyi. “If we handle our classrooms with integrity students will follow the examples that we set. Let’s show our students that we do good work, we do it with pride, and by example we shall teach.”

Dyens suggested frequent reminders of plagiarism throughout the year as a method of preventing it.

Ultimately, the speakers want students to be aware of the rules so that they avoid the consequences of academic dishonesty.

“I have to tell you, there is nothing more heartwrenching then interviewing a student in my office about a code case, and the student is expecting to graduate in a couple of weeks time at the end of that semester,” Nikolenyi said.

In the case of a second offence, he added “the student can be expelled, minutes, perhaps hours, weeks, or days before graduating.”

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Every semester most students at Concordia are greeted, whether in their syllabuses or by their professors, with a stern message about plagiarism. While these discussions of sourcing and bibliographies may feel repetitive semester after semester, copying material without proper attribution and even buying papers are ongoing problems at the university, ones that have been taken to different levels with the Internet.

“Recently, we’ve discovered something that was quite troubling,” said Ollivier Dyens, vice-provost of teaching and learning. “A website that will actually write the essay for you, completely new, for a very little amount of money.”

According to Dyens, Concordia has about 400 cases of plagiarism a year, and technology has played an important role in that high number, with websites that offer completed assignments and answers to exam or homework questions.

Dyens spoke last Thursday along with arts and science code administrator Csaba Nikolenyi on the issue of academic integrity as part of the university’s Open to Question series.

“Plagiarism is a complex issue,” said Dyens. “There’s no silver bullet to tackle the issue; there’s all sorts of different things going on, it’s not easy.”

Misconceptions about plagiarism were also discussed by Dyens. He stated that most students found guilty at the undergraduate level do not have low grade point averages. “That’s not the case; a lot of them have good GPAs, many of them have average GPAs, and most of them are in good academic standing,” he said.

Dyens also stated that students found guilty are not criminals, and most are honest, but make the mistake of plagiarizing because of poor time management skills.

While technology has contributed to the instances of plagiarism, it also helps the university detect these cases. The speakers referenced a new software piloted last fall called Turnitin which can determine if part of a paper is in fact plagiarized.

Both speakers also mentioned other methods to tackle the problem.

“The single best guarantee to protect academic integrity that we can have as faculty members is our own conduct,” said Nikolenyi. “If we handle our classrooms with integrity students will follow the examples that we set. Let’s show our students that we do good work, we do it with pride, and by example we shall teach.”

Dyens suggested frequent reminders of plagiarism throughout the year as a method of preventing it.

Ultimately, the speakers want students to be aware of the rules so that they avoid the consequences of academic dishonesty.

“I have to tell you, there is nothing more heartwrenching then interviewing a student in my office about a code case, and the student is expecting to graduate in a couple of weeks time at the end of that semester,” Nikolenyi said.

In the case of a second offence, he added “the student can be expelled, minutes, perhaps hours, weeks, or days before graduating.”

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