Copies, perfect and otherwise

A recent dialogue between a teacher and a professional term-paper writer yielded up this warning:

I was alerted to plagiarism by the sudden appearance, in a paper that is otherwise a morass of grammatical errors, of a series of flawless sentences with complicated structures. The correct use of a semicolon is a big red flag for me. As is the use — and often misuse — of specialized jargon or technical language that I’ve not discussed with them in class. Then I type those sentences into Google, and they all wind up being smoking-gun cases of plagiarism.

Hmmm. I get rather a lot of those in the search logs, but examples of misuse seem to outnumber examples of use.

Although there’s still a lot of this:

My favorite case this semester was plagiarism within plagiarism. When I informed this student that I suspected her paper was plagiarized, she said to me, “I got my paper from one of the students who was in your class last semester. How was I to know that she had plagiarized?”

(Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.)

1 comment

  1. fillyjonk »

    4 July 2011 · 7:23 pm

    Plagiarism within plagiarism? If that ever happened in my class, I expect my head would explode in a rather loud puff of purple smoke. (I did once have a student re-taking my class plagiarize a paper…part of the reason he was having to re-take it was that he had plagiarized the previous time. His response to me: “I didn’t think you’d check this time.” My response to that? A facepalm.)

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