Catch All The German Cheats

Until a quick Google a second ago, I forgot that I’d already written about this experience before. But in brief, I once had University of Regina English professor Susan Johnston’s legendary plagiarism speech delivered to me and me alone. It’s the kind of speech that’s intimidating when she’s doing it for the benefit of a class. The emotion went up by a factor of ten when she’s starring at you. I feel like she’d particularly appreciate news of German politicians stepping down over plagiarism in their school days. (Especially since one feature of her speech is her claim that if she suspects you of any wrongdoing, she will not stop trying to prove it once the class is done.) A group of online cheat hunters have been effective enough to discover and encourage the resignation of a defense minister in the German government. The NPR report where I’m reading this ends up in grey area — is crappy citation technique really plagiarism? — but the core idea, that being honest in your academic career and not stealing the work others should paramount in intellectual pursuits, is important. Also, the fact that this is a big enough deal over there to actually get people to step down is heartening.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.

6 thoughts on “Catch All The German Cheats”

  1. staring
    work of others
    Yes, crappy citation is plagiarism.
    I’ve met Professor Johnston, and I thank whatever gods there be for someone who cares enough about her students and her discipline to ream them out but good when they cheat, which is what plagiarism is: cheating.

  2. A caveat: crappy citation can be a result of honest incompetence. By all means give the paper an “F”, but to treat it like deliberate and malicious cheating if* it’s clearly just ignorance benefits no one. As in the application of all justice, wisdom is required. No one is served by driving first year students with poor skills who make honest mistakes out of the academy. They might have a lot to contribute once they learn how to properly write a paper.

    *Yes I realize that’s a very big “if”. I don’t envy profs.

  3. Plagiarism would be like shoving a rolled up pair of pants into your existing pants in the middle of a store without even hiding it… There’s no way you can plagiarize and feel “safe” doing it. There’s no cover, no knowing what other people may know. Obviously many get away with it, but it’s pure luck, and I can’t imagine the stress you’d be under waiting to get or not caught.

  4. No worries. The former minister can always get a job at the Globe and Mail, where plagiarism is only a short suspension offence, and even then, only if someone launches a campaign.

  5. Jane Taber’s recent glorifornication piece on Brad Wall was garbage. Pure garbage, totally pointless, a useless account of Bradley’s decision to skip the Premier’s conference, ostensibly to save taxpayers money, like the “millions” his generic drug buying plan will.

    BTW, the only time I had to defend myself against an insinuation of cheating, I just said, “Well, look at my grades – does it LOOK like I know how to cheat?” Much like my failure to score at job interviews. “Oh, I’m supposed to bullshit these questions and not share my ACTUAL shortcomings?? Oh, well in that case, I take back what I said about being easily distracted and bored by 3 p.m….”

  6. Stephen, it isn’t only first-year students who plagiarize, and the point of catching and sternly dealing with plagiarizing students is not to drive them out of the academy but to change their ways. The stakes get higher and there’s more to lose if those ways don’t change early. I think that’s amply demonstrated by the linked article.

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