Teachers Despair at Web Plagiarism

The submission of school projects using text and images lifted wholesale from the internet is becoming an increasing problem for teachers. A survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers found that 58 per cent of teachers described web plagiarism as a problem. Some 28 per cent of these teachers estimated that at least half of the work returned by pupils included content simply copied and pasted from the internet. The survey polled 300 teachers at school sixth forms, sixth form colleges and further education colleges across the UK. A teacher from Leeds described one piece of work as "so blatantly cut and pasted that it still contained adverts from the web page".

Plagiarism is a problem for teachers because it can be difficult to spot, and time consuming to identify. Connie Robinson, a teacher at Stockton Riverside College, said: "With less able students it is easy to spot plagiarism as the writing style changes mid-assignment. But with more able students it is sometimes necessary for tutors to carry out internet research to identify the source of the plagiarism. This obviously adds to the tutors' workloads."

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i've gotten accused of cheating a couple of times when i didn't cheat at all

i would look up info on the web and right down a summary of what i found + my opinions. both times they found that my paper "closely resembled" other student's papers from the previous years, that were on the same subject. well no s**t it's gana closely resemble the other papers that were on the same damn topic.

if you don't want plagiarism then don't assign RESEARCH papers. there are sites and books that are the best place to get info on any topic in the world. it's only natural that the kids will get there info from those locations because it's the best and most informative place

when people get the same research from the same place, there's only so many ways you can right that info without it looking like it was plagiarized

assign creative writing where the person has to come up with stuff on his own from his own imagination. that's the only way you won't get plagiarism in some form

But technically, someone who takes things right off wikipedia isn't doing anything wrong. Wikipedia is Free as in Freedom. And its license does not require that person to site the wikipedia as a source (as far as I know).

I think plagiarism is an overrated claim... If teachers want something original, they should ask for something new, or at least doable.

Also, as everyone should realize, everything is plagiarized. Our DNA is plagiarized from our parents... All science builds upon previous sciences. There is no point in reinventing the wheel!!

The trouble with wikipedia is not a copyright matters (even when wikipedia is not 100% free copypasta from copyrighted material), the trouble with wikipedia is the lack of a serious editor.

Encarta (for example) it's short but hardly you can find a mistake on a article, on wikipedia you can find plenty of articles filled with "i think that...", "need citation..", "unverifiable source","need cleaning..", etc..

Here's another idea... cat amongst the pigeons, if you like... Truly knowing about the subject you're writing about is, of course, essential. But perhaps just as important is being able to find the information too. In the 21st Century, where information is freely and widely available, it is impossible to know everything. Surely then, the ability to find information, is just as important as what you actually know? Therefore, marking-down an essay just because the text has been copied and pasted should be considered wrong, and perhaps maybe extra credit should be given taking into consideration how that information was obtained?

Just playing Devil's Advocate...

cheating with style is the most effective way. If I happen to come across an English Literature essay that, thank heavens, matches what I am required to write almost identically I will print it out, close the web page and place it next to my keyboard.

That way, I can essentially copy it, without copying and pasting any of it, meaning that my attention to detail with regards to re-wording sentences and clauses without necessarily reducing the force or clarity of the argument is heightened.

Or I could just write it. In practice, how long does it take to whip off 4000 words? not long in the grand scheme of things. Give yourself 45 minutes per night for 5 days - done.

You are forced to cheat, to written a essay of 50 of 100 pages in a short time (and you are not dismissed to skip classes) is absurds, neither a professional can do that in a full time job. But you can cheat with style (wording and taking from many source), or you can cheat and be caught simply copy&pasting.

All we had when I went to school was BBSes. The only text files they had were about magic mushrooms, UFOs, and how to make free phone calls using a Captain Crunch whistle. Not very helpful for schoolwork.

lol I remember those days. Thank the Lord for PRESTEL! And things were so slow, you'd have moved up a year before you managed to copy anything anyway!

I think one of the main problems is that no one has taught these kids how to properly cite their work using MLA (literature), APA (engineering), etc format, which is why they have no idea how to give credit to the original author.

Basically, they can copy-paste stuff if they put it in quotes and cite the source, or if they summarize something online, all they have to do is cite the source. It'll literally takes 10 more minutes of their lives to do this, and only takes a couple of days, a week tops, to teach someone how to do it properly.

Also, if someone is using Wikipedia, for God's sakes, don't cite Wikipedia, but cite the links that Wiki itself is citing. It's as simple as that.

I didn't really plagurize.... I read what i found in the books, reworded it.... and i'm sure i gave references where required. I mean, at least I thought into it enough not to copy it word for word... but then, we didn't really have the internet till i was around 17 (class of 2000 here)

Our professor told a story during class of how one year two students turned in the exact copy of the same work, obviously taken from a website. lol

I do all that I can to avoid it, and try to cite everything I get from the internet -- images included.

I knew some students that were kicked out of Uni due to Plagiarism. All you need to do is properly quote and reference the material you are using. Thats all you need to do to avoid Plagiarism.

you have to be completely stupid to forget to remove the adverts, if your going to copy and paste somethign at least read it through once you've finished to make sure it makes sense...

All essay based classes at my school force us to submit our papers via Turn-It-In. Depending on the professor and the assignment, we can be faced with either redoing the assignment completely up to expulsion from the university.

yea we had started doing a similar thing (not sure if it was that, sounds familiar) where it would compare papers vs other papers plus other sources to determine a % change it was plagiarized.

I don't think it's a problem anymore. With Turn It In, all kinds of assignments are scanned and plagiarism is easily detected. If they're not using this or a similar system in the US, then the problem lies from that institution not properly implementing a protection and anti-cheating scheme. In AUB (American University of Beirut), we use Turn It In with a lot of assignments and you have 1 chance to be caught plagiarizing. The second time, you're expelled, similar to what .hasan mentioned in his post.

(Justin- said @ #4.4)
I don't like Turn-It-In, however we use it as well. Ironically, they (Turn-It-In) plagiarize your work by keeping copies of it and checking it against other works. I'm sure there's somewhere in the whole upload process that it says they can do that, though. There was a lawsuit about them doing that which I read about a year ago.


Plagiarism is the practice of passing off someone else's work as your own. Keeping a copy on record for future checks is not plagiarism.

Ha! I remember back when kids used 'Encarta 9x' instead of the net. (oh yeah and books too lol)

In terms of the being-caught-out spectrum, there is a very fine line between drawing conclusions which are semi-based on other people's 'on line' ideas (which is essentially the same as talking to fellow student or even a teacher) and plain copy pasting from sites even only slightly less known than wikipedia or the 'i'm feeling lucky' button.

Everything will always be - and has always been - plagiarised.

It is centred however around the obscurity of the source document combined with the cunning of the err... plagiarist? :P

Long live coasting through school!

i must admit that i did it myself. i read it and made sure that everything flowed though. but i was really bad about it. I would copy from one site... and credit another.

I wonder how much of this is an impact of how it is easier to discover plagiarism. I wonder how many people were simply copying from books before the internet.

yep, back with books they couldn't compare and get a % difference rating, now just use google and you can pretty much get any essay and add it to a computer blacklist...
Although on the bad side, I got accused of plagerism because we hadn't been taught things like clock rate in a network assignment and they thought I took it off wiki or something but I didn't, although the person that copied right off from wiki was caught which was good