Friday, December 14, 2007

Well, that was ... original?

Me: Can you tell me a little about your research process for this paper?

Student: Oh, I didn't really do any research, I just wrote it.

Me: Are you sure?

Student: Yes.

Me: I'm asking because a number of passages in your essay are identical with an essay that can be downloaded from multiple web sites. Would you take a look and compare these two paragraphs?

Student: ...

Me: How do you explain this?

Student: I have a file-sharing program installed on my computer ... maybe it took a file off the computer without me knowing about it, and then installed it on all those sites?

(Damn, if only all that ingenuity had been applied to the assignment in the first place...)

7 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Just wanted to de-lurk and say hello. I stumbled across your blog via some other ones I read and wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying it.

Cheers! :)

Fretful Porpentine said...

Hi, Elizabeth! Nice to meet you!

Sassy Sandy said...

As long as we're doing introductions, I'd like to say hi too. I'm not sure how I stumbled across your blog, but I've been checking back ever since. I'm a senior English Secondary-Ed major in PA, getting ready to student teach in the spring. Your blog has been cracking me up, reading the professor's perspective. :0)

Dr. Virago said...

Wow, that *is* original! I'm filing away a mental note about this so I'll have a response if a student ever tries to pull it on me. Here's my planned response:

"Yeah. Sure. Because the people on the other end could just *tell* that Paper3.doc was a *brilliant* analysis of [insert topic]."

OK, maybe I'll be less sarcastic.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Sassy Sandy -- Hi, nice to meet you! (Though I must say, thank goodness I don't teach in PA, or I'd be feeling a little paranoid right now!)

Dr. Virago -- What I should have said, and didn't think to say until after the student left the office, was: "When did you write the paper? OK, that's just great! I guess the program couldn't have uploaded it before you wrote it, so that will make it easy to check the dates on the Google cached versions of this essay so you can prove your innocence!"

(I did check. Let it suffice to say there were cached copies dating from before our class read the relevant text.)

Renaissance Girl said...

From my own files:

Me: Well, I found the exact same paper, almost verbatim, online.

Student [outraged]: I can't BELIEVE some plagiarist would steal my paper and post it on the web!

(And on JSTOR, no less. And under the name of Stanley Fish. Dastardly deed!)

Fretful Porpentine said...

Ha! That's hilarious (and pathetic, of course, but mostly hilarious).