Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Plagiarism Is Simply Cheating

Plagiarism is simply cheating. It's the academic equivalent of lying or stealing. In this case the perpetrator lies about their capability and originality of expression or thinking, and they steal the insights of others and claim them as their own.

Students enter into a relationship when they join a university, and plagiarism is a betrayal of that relationship in exactly the same way that adulterer cheats on their spouse. Students also commit to developing original thinking and plagiarism is no different to schools kids stealing sweets and candy from the local store.

What could be worse than a qualified Doctor and TV celebrity setting such a poor example? Sub-consciously his behaviour runs the risk of making plagiarism seem like scrumping apples

Academic qualifications depend entirely on integrity. As soon as this is undermined the whole pack of cards collapses. Notions such as 'assessment FOR learning' is like saying to a Police officer that doing 34 in a 30 limit was evidence of being able to drive at 30 because it is less than 35 mph!

There is a serious threat to the credibility of UK European degrees due to the 'forgiving' stance encouraged towards overseas students. They should be applauded for studying away from home and in a foreign language AND they should be judged by a consistent standard. There a many examples of incoherent and conceptually muddled work being 'forgiven' as the 'sense' is read between lines by the marker. Native English speakers are NOT afforded this leniency. And as for 'explaining away' the tendency to copy vast tracts from books and other papers as an example of cultural differences where its 'really showing deference to more learned people' Just how gullible are we?!

The nature of learning, study, critical thinking and research differs as soon as you move from undergraduate study to masters and beyond. You are expected not only to know and understand what others have said in your field, you need to discuss and manipulate abstract concepts that use subtle and precise language. This is a challenge for a native English speaker, so it is hardly surprising that the pressure to perform and succeed tempts none -native English speakers to 'over rely' on the words, ideas and expressions of others.

Being confronted with fact that 'conceptual capabilities' and 'critical thinking' matter more at post graduate level than 'evidence of hard work (extensive descriptions and appendices) comes as a real shock to some.

Diamonds hold their value because they are scarce and hard won. All things of value are. As soon as the standards for the quality of a qualification are undermined the qualification is meaningless to potential employers and the recipient will be living in the delusion that they have achieved a 'standard' that was never there.

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