Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.


Plagiarism, Amazon and school projects

Interesting article in yesterday’s NZ Herald on plagiarism and Waikato University’s attempts to stamp in out. See: NZ Herald : Not in their own words by Philippa Stevenson.

One of the things about attempts by Amazon to build online digital libraries is that facility they provide for being to search books for key words or sentences. Sometimes if I’m suspicious about some text in an essay I’m marking I’ll find the book at Amazon and do a search in it (if that books been scanned). It’s surprising effective and quicker than skimming the paper book in the library. (For example try here)

One of the other things I’ve noticed is that school project instructions often include directions to use electronic or internet sources to find material out, but don’t include guidelines for children or parents on how to use that content. Is cutting-and-pasting from Encarta or a Google-search acceptable or not? Should they cite the source somewhere? And how critical should they be of information off the net? I’m trying to educate my kids but it seems we might be breeding a deeper culture of plagiarism that will be very hard to deal with later in tertiary education, church and the workplace.

1 Comment

  1. Tim

    What I’ve noticed is:

    (a) a dislike of copyright – because it seeks to stop me listening for free to the music I want, I’ll ignore it
    (b) the feeling that since this is all a legal game, then changing a few words makes it “all right”.

    We need to explain better that it is about integrity and about facilitating access, rather than legalism.

    And I agree with you, just as schools are beginning to teach children to use these tools, they “ought” to teach them to use them properly!

    In the meantime, plagiarism is the first deadly sin (for assignment writers), and Turnitin does sterling work!

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