Friday, May 25, 2012

Six Students Found Guilty of Plagiarism in Sweden

One of the advantages of having a central board at university to deal with plagiarizing students is that they can issue a press release on their current meeting. In the local paper in Sweden (Skånska Dagbladet, 24 May 2012) there is an article about the current decisions at Malmö högskola. Six students have been found guilty of plagiarism, copying large portions from the internet or other sources into their term papers. One insisted that she had not been taught the "intracies" of scientific writing, and she had change some words so that the text was "hers".

I'll repeat it slowly, in the hopes that everyone can follow: if you take something from somewhere - words, arguments, ideas - you mark where it begins, where it ends, and where it is from. Rewriting a word here or there does not make it your. BES - Begin, End, Source. Is it really that difficult?

The punishment for all 6 students is being locked out of the university for six weeks. No instruction, no cheaper beer at the student pubs, and above all: no examinations. This is a very good punishment, as students in Sweden get student loans based on passing a certain amount of credits. Everyone gets one year's worth of student loans. If you pass 75 % of the credits for a year, you can get money for the second year. Missing all of the examinations for one half semester can mean not getting money for next year.

I think it is a good idea to have an article like this in the paper (no names, just age and gender) reminding people what will happen if they get caughe.

1 comment:

  1. Or it may stipulate a discussion on what is good scientific writing and what is not; i.e. what needs to be punished strictly and what not.
    I feel quite a lack of ethics discussions in our scientific educations - there are religion/ethics classes in school, which could tackle these topics, but at my time never did (yeah well, religion classes might not be the right place but sometimes they really are more ethics classes with a bit Christianity salt if you have the right teacher). But at university? Nothing! Universal education? Not in Germany... :/
    At a foreign university I was quite happy I could enlist for a philosophical course in scientific thinking (not about ethics more about what scientific thinking actually is, having theories and killing them off by experiments etc.), at least one course in such a general direction should either be mandatory or at least be offered quite prominently for everyone ...
    Punishment will only make people who copy on purpose (knowing they should not) be more careful in hiding the copying. People need to believe in those ethics standards, and for that they need to know about them and why they are there...

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