Universities review plagiarism policies to catch Facebook cheats

Rather than fund a whole army of ‘Plagiarism Consultants’ and associated conferences why not re-engineer towards authentic forms of assessment – deal with the root of the problem rather than tinker with the flawed approach of the essay!

Universities review plagiarism policies to catch Facebook cheats:

Universities are reviewing their plagiarism policies to clamp down on students who use Facebook to cheat.

Plagiarism experts have warned universities and colleges to be aware of students copying from each other when discussing coursework on social networking sites.

Gill Rowell, from the consultancy Plagiarism Advice, said universities needed to rework their plagiarism policies with “internet working in mind” but insisted institutions were taking cheating seriously enough.

The warning comes after almost one in two Cambridge University students in a poll of 1,000 admitted to cheating in their studies.

Student newspaper, Varsity, found 49% of undergraduates who anonymously took part in their poll confessed to passing off other people’s work as their own.

One anonymous student said: “Sometimes, when I am really fed up, I Google the essay title, copy and throw everything on to a blank word document and jiggle the order a bit. They usually end up being the best essays.”

Just 5% of the students admitted they had been caught.

“It is a depressing set of statistics,” Robert Foley, a professor in Biological Anthropology at King’s College, Cambridge, said.

University plagiarism experts will discuss cheating with Universities UK, the umbrella group for vice-chancellors, on November 19.”

2 thoughts on “Universities review plagiarism policies to catch Facebook cheats

  1. Ian

    Hi Stephen, I agree the solutions you mention are not well thought out, what do you mean by more authentic forms of assessment ? I see how requiring say use of rich media and the patchwork text approach to constructing assessment products can go some way towards making plagiarism more difficult; where tutors who acompany the students on their journey through a module are also the assessors it can also be fairly obvious when students have err borrowed words from elsewhere and failed to atibute them in their assessment products, writing in different voices or disparity in conceptualisation can be identified by those familiar with the students past work and day to day communications… what else might help ? I think the time we are theoretically alloted to assess HE work is to short for both assessing and being rigorous in detecting plagiarism. It is time consuming and not foolproof copying and pasting chunks of text into a search engine and checking through the results to identify alignment with other online text. It is not always practical to check in the depth required for example where students have paid subscription to closed communities and drawn from within them to inform their work.

  2. Stephen Powell

    “what do you mean by more authentic forms of assessment” – I suppose the jargon might be assessment for learning and in work-based context this is fairly straight forward. However, in other contexts it would be the things that students do to achieve a given end (whoever the giver is).


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