Sunday, June 22, 2008


The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said pupils are turning to websites and internet resources that contain inaccurate or deliberately misleading information before passing it off as their own work.

The group singled out online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which allows entries to be logged or updated by anyone and is not verified by researchers, as the main source of information.
(Emphasis added.)

Remember the good old days, when students plagiarized from BOOKS and actually PASSED the exams and wrote respectable papers? And then along came Wikipedia!

Isn't the real problem that students are passing something off as their own (and probably always have?)--not that they're now using a less reliable and more easily identifiable source?

Do we really want to hearken back to the days of unverified theft?

Google Books, however, is beginning to make it more difficult for the old school plagiarists.

NOTE: The best and easiest way to prevent plagiarism is to give students very specific guidelines with a personal response component. I would assign a set number of paragraphs (say 5), with limits as to where the student is expected to report facts or research, and where opinion and reactions should be recorded. Citations are a must. When reading 60 or more essays the uniformity helps in so many ways: you already know what belongs where, and have a better idea which bits should be checked on the internet for plagiarism. But next year I may use, as many other teachers do already.

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