Friday, January 05, 2007

Plagiarism (Part 1 of 2) (updated)

Some people from the Daily contacted me about a story they're writing about plagiarism. They'd seen an earlier entry in which a commenter discovered the author had lifted something from Wikipedia. The Daily wondered if I could be of some assistance. Could I, they asked, provide them with some old papers for them to go through in search of plagiarism? They wanted to see how common it was and the Fishbowl's a good way to get a random sample.
So I got together some extra papers that I hadn't really looked through before and started running phrases through Google. Of the five that had on me, two have some degree of plagiarism. This is the first; check out the underlined text.

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Update: Did some more searching and also found this:

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Anonymous jeremy said...

Does plagiarism count if it's just a list of facts? Especially if they're statistically recorded somewhere? Essentially this boils down to laziness, and a duck's a duck. But I'm sure there are more egregious offenses out there.

(please find and post them!)

4:10 PM  
Blogger whit said...


i agree with jeremy about the list thing, but the other is legit :)

5:56 PM  
Blogger AHFB said...

Even if the list falls under common knowledge, it says something about the writer when it so closely resembles the wiki article.

On another topic, here's a thing on plagiarism from IU's writing services site.

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it's not the list itself that is unacceptable, but the fact that he/she didn't cite the source.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bad- plagerizing.
worse- plagerizing from wikipedia where the information is suspect at best

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if U of M uses this service, but there's a great site called where you can submit your papers and receive a "plagiarism report." The report tells you what percentage of your paper is unoriginal by comparing it with information on the web as well previously published academic papers. It also shows you exactly which parts of the paper are plagiarized and where the information came from. (Do I sound like a commercial yet?)

It might be a pain to use it with stuff you find in the fishbowl because you don't have it in electronic format. You'd either have to OCR it or type it all up yourself. Still, its definitely worth checking out.

-rachel (U of M Alum)

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah ok. I just realized that you may not be able to use without being enrolled in a school and class that uses the product.

Meh. It was worth a shot.


1:13 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

"Plagerizing" is pretty bad too.

On plagiarism, the problem with is that, as number of papers written goes toward infinity, chance of accidental plagiarism approaches one.

And on this specific count of plagiarism, if you're going to blatantly steal, Jesus Christ, at least change the list order.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Joel said...

I think the fact that the entire list is there but Author bothered to rearrange a bit of it indicates that he believes even copied lists are plagiarism.

That, or a tactic to avoid being caught.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


True, but thats why the site lets you see which parts are unoriginal and where the copied text came from. Obviously, there are a limited number of ways in which one can write something. Luckily, I doubt the number of papers submitted to the site will be approaching infinity any time soon. ;)


7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will want to blur out "Key Finding" #4 in the Executive Summary because it features the name of one of the students who worked on this project. I know this because I was a student in the class last semester and had to work on that awful project as well.

2:08 PM  
Blogger AHFB said...

blurred now. thanks

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

I'd say that the graph of submissions to the site vs. time has a positive first derivative and a negative second derivative. I've read about it in the Times and a few other papers now, and I've heard about it from GSIs.

Summation: when you have to write as much shit as the regular humanities student, eventually, it's all garble.

11:25 PM  

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