www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Embarrassing economists -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

Sherow for House -10/24/2014, 9:13 AM

It can't get crazier (wanna bet?) -10/24/2014, 9:04 AM

Digital distractions -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Orman for Senate -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal persecutors -10/23/2014, 10:00 AM

Kids do count -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

Needing the past in the future? -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

In praise of hunting -10/22/2014, 10:30 AM

What is a CID? Will it work for mall? -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Judging importance on the ballot -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Kansas Speaks -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Paying for schools -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Joining forces for Orman -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Research before voting -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Davis is moderate? -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The most important election in your lifetime -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Huelskamp stands out -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Kansas farm interests -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Keeping unfounded reports from 'going viral' -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The age of cynicism -10/18/2014, 9:02 AM

Preventable diseases -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Second term needed -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Kansans deserve better -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Officially killing Americans -10/17/2014, 10:27 AM

New era at FHSU -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Roberts is right choice -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Crumbling Constitution -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Redbelly's future -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas deserves better -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Remember to vote on Nov. 4 -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

You almost feel sorry for Sean Groubert -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Register to vote -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Living on that 70 percent -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

New bullying problem for schools: parents -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Cheerios, marriage equality, the Supreme Court -10/13/2014, 9:49 AM

Wedded bliss -10/12/2014, 5:54 PM

Who is the real fraud? -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Teenagers 'make some noise' -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Not so private property -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal funding -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Teacher indoctrination -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Vote Republican -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Non-partisan politics -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Teen driver safety week Oct. 19 to 25 -10/9/2014, 9:04 AM

FHSU party -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Poverty in America -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Let the women serve -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Time for new direction -10/8/2014, 9:49 AM

Improving Kansas economically -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Water abusers -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Play safe on the farm -10/8/2014, 9:34 AM

Where the money comes from -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The president's security -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

Marriage equality -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The sins of the father are visited -10/6/2014, 9:02 AM

Cannabis in America: The bottom line -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

Gov. shields wealthy from paying for schools -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

Passionate protest in defense of civil disorder -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

October is time for baseball and, of course, film premieres -10/4/2014, 2:16 PM

Alley cleanup -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Will the West defend itself? -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Find another school -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

It's better now -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

The answer is to bomb Mexico? -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

Falling revenue -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

School facilities -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Look ahead, not back -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Secret Service needs to step up its game -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Roosevelts were true leaders -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Moral bankruptcy -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Expect some sort of change in Topeka -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

'A tale of two countries' -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

The last of the Willie Horton ads? -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

Finding answers to the future of Kansas -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

College: Where religious freedom goes to die -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Honoring Hammond -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Do statistical disparities mean injustice? -9/26/2014, 9:53 AM

World university rankings -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas experiment -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Two anti-choice parties -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Not in the same old Kansas anymore -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Domestic violence -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Back to war we go -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Piling on the NFL -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Emma Watson looking for a few good men -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Renter runaround -9/23/2014, 7:32 PM

Enough is enough -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Life of politics in the state -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

What is and is not child abuse -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Cannabis politics and research -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Future of The Mall -9/21/2014, 6:14 PM

Multiculturalism is a failure -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

State education rankings -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Kobach gone wild -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Bias prevents civil discussion of education issues -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Immigration is American -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Costs to states not expanding Medicaid -9/17/2014, 10:14 AM

Medicare threats -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

'Help me plagiarize'

Published on -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

It was the strangest request I ever have received: "Can you help me plagiarize my thesis?" asked the young Chinese student. I did not think I had heard correctly. When she repeated her request, I figured she merely misunderstood the word, or had poor English and was asking for help avoiding plagiarizing.

I was speaking at five universities last year, and I had a free day between lectures. I am known for helping proofread papers. She had her flash drive in hand. It was the last month of their school year, and she was fretting about finishing her thesis. I asked her to sit down and talk.

"You want me to help you a-v-o-i-d plagiarism, right?" I emphasized.

"No," she repeated to me in slow English so I clearly would understand. "I need help plagiarizing my paper."

(Okay Schrock, maintain composure. Don't roll your eyes. Don't hold your head in your hands and moan.)

"Tell me what plagiarism means to you," I directed.

"I need to change enough words so it won't be detected by the computer."

Now I knew exactly why she was asking.

Five years ago, China's Ministry of Education issued a directive to universities to check every master's thesis and doctoral dissertation for plagiarism. Plagiarism has become a worldwide problem, thanks to online access and the ease of the cut-and-leave function.

Just as American professors use programs such as Turn-It-In to detect students who have bought their term papers from "paper mills," Chinese universities installed plagiarism-check software on well-intentioned "orders from above." And their universities passed the responsibility down to the students. Before they turn in their first draft, they are to go to the library, where a designated computer runs it through the plagiarism-check. They are not to hand it in until it clears the check.

So students learn a functional definition of plagiarism: It is the number of English words (or Chinese characters) in-a-row that are identical to other works on file. To avoid plagiarism, some believe all you have to do is change enough words so there never are seven or more in a row that match other work.

"Why not put quotes around all the sentences that are from other people, and then put their names in parentheses at the end of the sentence?" I asked.

"Oh, I know all about that," she said. "My whole thesis will be in quotes."

"Didn't you add some ideas yourself?" (I really wanted to help.)

"No. We are just students. How can we come up with new ideas? Those people get Nobel Prizes. Everything in here I got from the books and articles I read."

"How about putting some of these ideas in your own words. We still have to credit the authors -- it's called paraphrasing?"

"That's what I want you to help do, so there is enough difference the computer won't detect it. But I can't list all the sources because that would be everything." She was beginning to suspect I would not help her. We talked for a half hour. I never did succeed in getting her to understand why we give credit by citation.

This problem is pervasive throughout Asia and other countries that have a heritage of didactic teaching. Throughout their K-12 education, the teacher is the "master," and the students are apprentices. Whole classes engage in group recitation of identical texts. For 12 years, you are rewarded when you can repeat the teacher's explanation or the textbook answer, word-for-word. And now in college, they change the rules on you, and call this copying "plagiarism."

She was certain this plagiarism rule was just a way to force people to pay money to buy permission to use the words, similar to copyright and trademarks. I never did succeed in teaching her the value of giving credit to sources. I asked her how old her major professor was -- he was "old school." She was not a bad person. She just needed to be taught. The young Chinese professors coming back from study in the West have been doing that teaching, and China is changing fast.

Tomorrow, I fly to Harbin in far northeast China to work with faculty and graduates on research and publication integrity. Their Office of Science Integrity in their Ministry of Science and Technology is hosting these sessions nationwide. I hope I never will be asked by a student to help them plagiarize, ever again.

John Richard Schrock is a professor

in the Department of Biological Sciences

at Emporia State University.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News