10 January 2023

Plagiarism cases kicking off

Shortly before Christmas, Jaco had sent the email out to the whole school that from the start of the New Year onwards, I would be the person with whom you need to flag up cases of poor academic practice or worse, such as plagiarism, collusion or data fabrication. The official title is Academic Integrity Officer. I had asked several colleagues how often they refer a case; most said about once a year. So I didn't think it would be very busy.

The University opened again on Tuesday January 3. By 9:05 I had two suspected plagiarism cases in my mailbox. I had a look; they were fairly straightforward, but they were my first two cases! I did check my documentation to see if I can wasn't forgetting anything. And I decided that I had to write a standard email of my own to inform students they had been caught engaging in academically undesirable behaviour. You can't just use the text of your predecessor if you are the plagiarism czar!

I also looked up how you document these cases. I had to update the form with which you do that. It is important that it is documented; if only because if students stray again, the penalty can be a lot heavier. But luckily, it is very rare that happens!

The next day I got my next two cases. This is full on! And the second batch needed a little bit more discussion.

77% similarity to a previously submitted assignment; something one doesn't want to see

This first week is really brought the message home that this is my task now! It looks like this is going to be a considerable part of my working life. It sure got in the way of my marking. Fortunately there were no suspect cases in that! But the exam period is approaching. Let's hope that doesn't lead to any cases at all! 

No comments: