Plagiarism update

Per UW guidelines, I met with the student this morning. Her excuse was that she turned in the wrong paper - that she had copied and pasted information from websites to use as research, and must have accidentally handed that in rather than the paper she had written using that research. She was crying and shaking while she told me this.

I don't buy it for a second (a title page on research notes? A bib with misleading citations?), but I gave her 15 minutes to go back to her dorm and e-mail me the "correct" paper.

This should be interesting - I predict that correct file will have "mysteriously disappeared" from her computer.

Update: I had another TA read through the paper, and he thinks the plagiarism is so obvious that her story might just be true.

Update: I have the paper now, and a preliminary skim-through gives me the impression that it's basically the same paper. The first two pages (the non-plagiarized sections) are exactly the same, many of the same (plagiarized) sentences are still in the paper, and some small changes have been made to the language in other sections - changes that would make an undergrad think, "I changed it, so now it's not cheating!"

From the paper she "meant" to hand in:
Second, the United States has zero tolerance for the suppression of the Palestinian people by Israel, and that Israel's 30-year-old occupation of the Palestinians must end. These two fundamental propositions must occur together; one without the other is empty persuasion. Palestinians will not give up what they see as their natural right to resist their occupiers if they believe that their occupiers have no intention of ending their occupation. Once the principle of viable Palestinian statehood has been clearly acknowledged by Israel, the process toward its accomplishment requires a complete end to all forms of violence. Israel will be among the prime beneficiaries of the ultimate defeat of al-Qaida and its affiliates in the Middle East and elsewhere.


From the research notes she "accidentally" handed in (lifted from cfr.org):
Second, the United States has zero tolerance for the subjugation of the Palestinian people by Israel, and that Israel's 30-year-old occupation of the Palestinians must end. These two fundamental propositions must occur together; one without the other is empty persuasion. Palestinians will not give up what they see as their natural right to resist their occupiers if they believe that their occupiers have no intention of ending their occupation. Once the principle of viable Palestinian statehood has been clearly acknowledged by Israel, the process toward its accomplishment requires a complete end to all forms of violence. Israel will be among the prime beneficiaries of the ultimate defeat of al-Qaida and its affiliates in the Middle East and elsewhere.


One says subjugation where the other says suppression - that's not plagiarism!

In addition, I'm not convinced that the paper she initially handed in was, in fact, research notes. It contains the same introduction and conclusion as the paper she handed in this morning, as well as retaining the same organizational structure, section headings, and section intro sentences.

5 comments:

Juan Dixon's Number 1 Fan said...

Where is the update, man?!?

J.Bro said...

Blogger's been down for an hour - it's killing me! The fact that I can post a comment tells me that it might be back up though...

Spice said...

Yes, changing that one word is so convincing! As someone who's had the 'research notes' excuse used on me (by another grad student, no less), I have no leaning toward buying it. None. Especially given how you've described the alleged 'notes.'

On the other hand you can comfort the student by telling her that the worst that will happen is likely to be a zero on the assignment (especially if the lame-ass prof neglected to include a no-cheating policy on his syllabus) and that it will take a whole lot more to get her kicked out of UW.

I'm glad Not-Juan has had good experiences with the department on this front, but I've heard enough stories about students complaining their way into higher grades or getting away with stuff or whatever that I can't say I have a whole lot of confidence in them, either. Hopefully their dislike of the prof will lead to your being given the benefit of the doubt!

Sophist said...

Wow, that is a pretty damn abonimable example. Is a "no-cheating" statement really required on a syllabus? Shouldn't it be implicit? I suppose everything requires a little liability waiver these days - like when you buy insulated paper cups at the store and they come with the warning "Contents may be hot." Sad. And these are future academicians.

grrrbear said...

I say "Off with her head!". Nothing would show the conservative whiners who complain about the liberal in academia being "soft" on academic fraud that we mean business like a few well-publicized executions for plagarism.

ARRRRR!!!!