Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Student in Sweden sanctioned for plagiarism

According to the Swedish daily Sydsvenskan from May 24, 2016, a student has been sanctioned by the University of Lund for plaigarism in a Master's thesis. Apparently, the thesis consisted almost entirely of text copied from other theses. Not only was the theory portion plagiarized, but interviews were also apparently falsified. The sanction meted out by the Disciplinary Board (disciplinnämnd) was suspension from the university for three months.

A suspension sanction is quite severe in Sweden, as this means that credit points are not earned during suspension. Students cannot continue to receive student loans if they do not earn enough credit points each semester and thus often must interrupt their studies.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

UK Report on Ghostwriting

​​The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the UK (QAA) has just released a public report about ghostwriting: "Plagiarism in Higher Education - Custom essay writing services: an exploration and next steps for the UK higher education sector." It gives an excellent overview of the problem of bespoke essays or contract cheating and also discusses the bleak legal outlook on the problem. They also discuss the legal situation in a few other countries. New Zealand appears to have had regulations about this in their Education Act from 1989, making it illegal to provide or advertise ghostwriting services.

The report summarizes what needs to be done (p. 16) as
Education. Deterrence. Detection.
That is, students and educators need to be informed about good scientific practice, assessments have to be desiged so as to deter academic misconduct, and universities must act to detect (and sanction) such misconduct when it occurs.

I highly recommend reading this report, including the case studies that document the advertising text used by five essay mills, with price information. It is a sobering read.