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On Plagiarism

November 1, 2009

When I confront students who’ve plagiarized by copying crap from Wikipedia, they often say something like this: “I didn’t understand the book, so I had to get help from elsewhere.”

From this point forward I’m going to tell them that looking to those other sources will not help and has not helped them understand the book any better.

You aren’t going to understand Kant’s “categorical imperative” or Foucault’s definition of “discourse” any better by looking at Wikipedia. By plagiarizing the Wikipedia page on this topic, you’ve just substituted one thing you don’t understand with another thing you don’t understand.

I know this because you plagiarized sentences with words you’ve never seen before. You’ve said that the categorical imperative is a part of Kant’s “deontological ethics,” but you don’t know what “deontological” means.

So your excuse is crap.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    November 1, 2009 2:55 pm

    get ’em!

  2. Beelzebub permalink
    November 1, 2009 3:47 pm

    My guess is that when they say “I didn’t understand the book, so I had to get help from elsewhere,” they’re not meaning it in the sense of getting help understanding; they mean they’re simply getting help making the grade. Which, as you point out, obviously isn’t working.

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