Plagiarism uptick

In spite of the fact that we’re doing a unit on history writing in my class, I’ve noticed a distinct uptick in the number of plagiarized assignments on the class wiki this week.

Like, all but one of them. Most of them were cribbed directly from Wikipedia.

Except, of course, that something even weirder than that is happening. The students are plagiarizing from numerous websites, apparently. It’s just that the websites they’re plagiarizing are themselves plagiarizing from Wikipedia.

It’s like the text of Wikipedia has become the defacto standard boilerplate text for whatever historical subject you want to write about or discuss on your website.

Anyone else noticed this sort of thing? When did it happen?

4 comments

  1. As an English teacher, I fight this battle all of the time. I use Turnitin.com and in class writing to help bring down the number of cheaters. There were always cheaters, but now it’s so impersonal with the web that more students are willing to risk it. Strong policy and using detection sites are good ways to fight back.

  2. Andrew, I’ve quoted you and linked to your blog from my website, webenglishteacher.com. If you would prefer that I not, please let me know. I’ll take it down right away. Thanks!

  3. Disappointingly, there seems to have been an uptick in plagiarism amongst teachers of late as well, as I’ve seen a fair bit of discussion recently on social media sites about educators copying and pasting content from other sites and blogs and attempting to pass it off as their own.

    Not only has this happened to me recently, but it has happened to several other members of my PLN as well.

    It never ceases to amaze me when teachers do this kind of thing; not just because they really ought to know better, but also because it beats me as to how they could possibly think they could get away with it in the wired world we live in today without depositing telltale digital footprints back to the scene of the crime.

    I suspect that this kind of thing is probably a knock-on effect of the contemporary myth perpetuated in some quarters that anything uploaded onto the Internet is fair game for copying and remixing.

    Speaking personally, I think the best way to tackle plagiarism amongst students is to teach learners about referencing, copyright, and fair use explicitly, and then lead by example.

    “Monkey see”, monkey do, as the old saying goes…

  4. Yes, I have been having problems with plagiarism in my 1st and 2nd year university classes. It’s so annoying and I guess they don’t realize that they’re cheating themselves ….especially the EFL students. They need to learn how to write a composition in their own words!

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