Saturday, February 21, 2009

German student thrown out of college for plagiarism

A student of business at the University of Münster submitted his final thesis in 2007. The professors - using software - found numerous passages that were not quoted at all or were improperly quoted. They decided to fail the student.

He went to court, and Germany being Germany, it has taken almost 2 years for his day in court to come. As the WDR reports, the student lost his case. The judge decided that the university was correct in failing the student. The university system has threatened to levy fines (a dubious proposition) in the past, but in this case is not planning on trying that, a wise decision.

This is the first case in Germany of which I am aware in which a university has won a plagiarism case against a student. Usually the universities are ordered to give the student another chance instead of exmatriculating them.

Three cheers for the University of Münster with the courage to go to court on this one!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Plagiarius Awards

The Plagiarius Awards 2009 have been announced! The Aktion Plagiarius e.V. in Germany awards yearly prizes in the form of a black dwarf with a golden nose (inspired by a play on words of the German saying, sich eine goldene Nase verdienen, to earn a golden nose) to companies that instead of coming up with innovative products choose to imitate other products.

This year's winners are: The electronic hand dryer “HTE”, the knee support „GenuTrain®“, and the trolley “Carrycruiser”. Two of the plagiarisms come from China, but first prize goes to a German plagiarist.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

But I don't want to be a scientist!

I had an interesting conversation with a student teacher last night. She's new on my sports team and I was explaining to her what I do including my work fighting plagiarism.

She exclaimed: Oh no, you can't do that, how else can I pass except by copying?

I thought at first she was joking, but she was dead serious. She only wants to be a sports and maths teacher, not a scientist. And she feels that things have been said so well by others, why should she try and say it again. I pointed out that this is how she learns things, by putting things in her own words. "I don't have time for that!" she exclaimed.

She was, of course, shocked to learn that her change-a-word-here-and-there process doesn't help: Three words suffice.

I think we have an even larger problem that student plagiarism rolling towards us like a tsunami wave. If even the young teachers - cut & pasters themselves - don't see a problem in copying, how will we teach the next generation independent thought and how to write?