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August 2004, Week 5


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"Larsson, Donald F" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 29 Aug 2004 11:34:48 -0500
text/plain (133 lines)
This whole issue came up for discussion last year on the ADE Chairs
list.  While some reported that they were happy with subscribing to or other services, most did not seem to think it was worth
the money.  A simple phrase search on Google (just put the suspect words
in quotation marks) usually did the trick.

I don't know how Respondus works, but Turnitin requires a database of
bogus papers, which itself raises a variety of legal issues (data
privacy on the one hand and students' "ownership" of their work on the
other, just for starters).

As Jeremy suggests, the kind of stuff peddled for purchase on the
papermill sites can be pretty obvious, and as Deb suggests, customizing
the assignments can make it difficult or impossible to apply any of that
stuff in a non-obvious way.

Deb also points out that students usually need to be educated about
quality of sources and the rules of citation.  Many of us have found
that some international students come from cultures where our concepts
of "cheating" and of "intellectual property" can be tenuous, but
domestic students can have their own notions of what makes a paper
"sound good" that may not be directly linked to a desire to get around

Of course, the truly dedicated student will always find a way (or
almost).  A few years ago, I had one student who submitted a composition
assignment that I was sure was plagiarized, but I couldn't find a source
on the internet or in our own library.  Finally, after 3 hours in the
stacks at the University of Minnesota, I came across an obscure book in
French with English translations on the facing pages--his paper, word
for word.  I took this one through our somewhat cumbersome judicial
process (better than Leo's situation but still probably enough to set
his teeth on edge) and was gratified that he seemed to get his

Don Larsson

"Only connect."  --EM Forster
Donald F. Larsson
English Department
Armstrong Hall 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN
[log in to unmask]
Phone: 507-389-5501

-----Original Message-----
From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
On Behalf Of Darrell Newton
Sent: Sunday, August 29, 2004 9:39 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] Cheating and Student Papers

Has anyone out there used, or witnessed a demo of Respondus? It uses a
specific kind of search program that compares with student papers with
sites on the 'net.

Hypothetically, one would load a student paper into it (preferably from
WebCT or Blackboard) and let it rout out striking similarities in syntax
and wording. The results are astounding.

Our campus is considering buying it...

Darrell M. Newton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
The Department of Communication and Theater Arts
Salisbury University
290 Holloway Hall
Salisbury, MD 21801
(410) 677-5060 Office
(410) 543-6229 Department

>>> [log in to unmask] 08/29/04 08:23 AM >>>
As Ph.D. student in film an English Dept., I teach more composition
than film classes, but I've found that students have a real problem
understanding what is public knowledge and what should be cited.  I've
had few that
borrow more than what they feel is "public knowledge" but the concept of
gets in the way.

Many students think that information on the Internet is "public" and I
had some that thought that copying from IMDB or a book jacket was okay
it is, of course, public on the net or on a glossy (sell the book)
All I was asking for was a paper proposal but I had someone plagarize.
That was
disconcerting and enlightening.

The lines between promotion and ideas can get lost in the hype to sell a
book, or film, or any other commodity.  There's a postmodern moment
there or at
least a Sontag pause for reflection.

The best defense against borrowing from the Internet paper mills is,
obviously, to customize assignments and simply to ask for copies of the
sources they
have consulted. This can help.

The most enlightening experience for me was to require a look at
works and to realize that Siskel was the epitome of a "critical" film
There is much to be taught and we can do well at this task but each
must be our own.

Ciao, Deb

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