Friday, November 28, 2008

Plagiarism and two steps forward

Having just read the blog post, Readers Confess Online Sins, I was reminded about mind notes I had made some time back, to comment on a well-established industry within the internet: academic writing. 

At the very start of undergrad school, students are given special instructions on what counts as plagiarism and what doesn't. They are required to quote in parentheses or blockquotes, place footnotes and compile bibliographies. If that isn't a drift enough from high-school assignments, there are different kinds of citation styles to adapt to. Some disciplines and/or teachers demand the APA style, others the MLA, and yet others, the Chicago style of referencing.

In the past, more excruciating for the freshman was not writing the 5000 odd words, not protecting the intellectual rights of others, but doing it in the acceptable manner. Then, came online tools like the citation machine. If students were fond researchers, these facilities made life very easy.

Come the present, for many students, it is not just the citations that are a piece of cake, but the researching too. All that needs to be done is to google phrases like "buy papers", click one of the thousand results, and order your paper online. As simple as that! Google prides itself on coming up with the right kinds of ads for ad-sense but don't be surprised if the keywords for this post are spidered effectively to generate Academic Writing offers on this page (I don't endorse those!). Say goodbye to plagiarism. Our kind service providers will make sure that they write ethically correct papers for you. Yes, they are very ethical and particular about that.

And coming back to that post I was reading, of the 220 readers who took the poll:

54 percent said they've downloaded pirated content;
36 percent admitted to misrepresenting themselves online;
22 percent said they plagiarized Web content;
16 percent said they hacked into a corporate network;
6 percent said they've stolen someone's identity.

Have I ever downloaded pirated content? Yes, guilty as charged. The rest, thankfully not! What about you? And have you or your kids ever ordered academic papers?

Copyright (c) 2008 Saadia Malik


Alex @ The Travel Blurb said...

I think plagiarism is a waste of time and immoral. It either shows a lack of understanding for a subject or sheer laziness both of which someone should not get credit for.

As far as research goes this is fine as long as you do not blatantly rip off someone else's work. In the blogging world I am sure plagiarism exists (copying and pasting) but hopefully these people get penalised by Google for having duplicate content. Take an idea from a post, expand it, add a twist or do something to make it original. I think that is fine.

Saadia said...

'It either shows a lack of understanding for a subject or sheer laziness'.

I think it is the laziness and indifference in today's student, which results in an utter lack of understanding. Otherwise, there are no undergrad assignments which demand a grasp of rocket science.

I was once recruited by somebody to write essays on subjects I would be assigned. Being a student myself at the time, I jumped on the chance - given my passion for writing - to earn a little extra pocket money. Soon after, I realised that they were selling off those essays to high-schoolers, who would submit their assignment questions, and get an (my) original work for a fee. Of course, I said 'goodbye' immediately.

Fragile Emptiness said...

Its good to see that paki universities are learning NOT to cheat by educating their students to understand plagiarism. They claim to be Muslims yet not hesitate to cheat and reference things properly. To the extent that someone from "Islamia University" published a scientific paper in a PEER reviewed journal. Turns out it was copied word to word from an unpublished paper. Wow. Pakistani is truly Zindabad!

Saadia said...

Lie, cheat and steal: high school ethics surveyed

Alex @ The Travel Blurb said...


Just something I thought of while sitting here at work. What do people think about blogs using images taken straight off the internet perhaps from a Google image search? Surely bloggers that use these photos without consent from the creator are 9 times out of 10 in breach of copyright?

It is always nice to have photos on a blog but I for one know my repository will eventually run out. Do people who post a photo or picture just run the risk of the owner seeing it or is this allowed?

Saadia said...

Good question. I'm not sure but I think most of these images are not copyrighted. Those that are, must require permission, otherwise, it would count as a breach of law.

There are so many images being duplicated thousands of times over the internet, that it is hard to say if they were initially free or pirated by somebody. Personally, I've caught a few of the net, but most of them are mine. I was able to trace one image (of Amsterdam) to its owner, so I gave the credit where it was due, in the footnotes.

If somebody has a more educated answer to Alex's questions, please do respond here.

Awais Karim said...

well i have downloaded pirated content and i believe its just.Just look at the prices of original stuff...take windows for an example. an original copy of window will cost more than 7k rs. How can a community/country who have an average earning of about half of that tag can buy it???

Companies should set an appropriate price.

Now for Alex. we should always give credit to the original author/director. For me it will be running windows with the name of Awais. That is defiantly not fair.

Nothingman said...

Once something is online, there is nothing much an owner can do to protect it from being copied. I mean, for example, you have a (C) sign on this post, if someone posts it on their blog, will you be able to sue them? or be willing to take the bother to do it?

Palgiarism is a fact we all have to accept. Simple as that.

Take care!