www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

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

Green fields in northwest Kansas -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Consolidation by starvation -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

School mergers tricky -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Hotel tipping -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

Abuse video revealed nothing we didn't know -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

Lessons from 13 years ago -9/15/2014, 9:20 AM

The zero option -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Why branding ISIS matters -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

School efficiency -9/14/2014, 1:31 PM

Favors and loot for sale -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

The 'college experience' -9/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Ellis schools -9/11/2014, 10:10 AM

Hold on, Mr. President -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

The best bathroom -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

The day the world stood still -9/11/2014, 9:26 AM

No one can play your part -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Playing candidate dress-up -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Congress at work -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

Schmidt is the answer -9/9/2014, 9:55 AM

The liabilities of cannabis use -9/8/2014, 9:21 AM

Downtown decision -9/8/2014, 9:21 AM

Why are red states so far behind? -9/8/2014, 9:20 AM

Taylor's next move -9/5/2014, 10:16 AM

Consider trees to spruce up yard -9/5/2014, 10:15 AM

Washington takes action to reform VA -9/5/2014, 10:15 AM

Umbehr stands out -9/4/2014, 12:25 PM

Leadership education -- it's not a scam -9/4/2014, 12:24 PM

Not supporting Brownback's re-election -9/4/2014, 12:23 PM

A fair fair debate -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Suicide in today's age -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Regulation overreach -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Sharpton, Kobach's common ground -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

In charge of all -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Pocket-book debate? -9/3/2014, 9:23 AM

Educating voters on education -9/2/2014, 9:33 AM

Crazy election season in Kansas -9/2/2014, 9:33 AM

An erosion of authenticity -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Blasphemy, free speech and the 'black mass' -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Labor Day -8/31/2014, 4:39 PM

Flexing muscles -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Blacks must confront reality -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

The leadership scam -8/29/2014, 10:00 AM

Green monster -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

The resurrection of Rick Perry -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Senate campaign -8/28/2014, 10:14 AM

Right to be heard? -8/26/2014, 10:08 AM

Over-covering Ferguson -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

Figuring out the tax debate -8/26/2014, 10:07 AM

An obvious ploy -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Not-so-beautiful sunset -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Cannabis therapy -- Why bother? -8/25/2014, 9:29 AM

Business climate of Kansas -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

James Foley: Courage in the face of danger -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Festering wound -8/24/2014, 11:39 AM

Big banks settling -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Tuition pays for this -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

College textbook scam -8/22/2014, 10:16 AM

Policing a riot -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Evil strikes back -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Art appreciation -8/21/2014, 9:45 AM

Abuse of power -8/20/2014, 8:22 AM

Ferguson police arrest reporters for reporting -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Don't 'got milk' -8/20/2014, 8:21 AM

Another road map to success? -8/19/2014, 10:05 AM

It's the abuse of power, stupid -8/19/2014, 10:04 AM

Riots in Ferguson, and what they mean -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

One of billions -8/18/2014, 9:57 AM

The GOP presents: Barack-nado -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Media and Missouri: What's going on? -8/17/2014, 2:08 PM

Answer the bell -8/15/2014, 8:58 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
AP Nation-World News

View this site in another language.