Steps to stop cheats 2

June 30, 2006

You report an academic conduct officer stating that some lecturers can't be "arsed" to take plagiarism seriously. But do lecturers who try to deal with it always get the support they need?

A draft dissertation containing pages of plagiarised material, and clear evidence of a deliberate attempt to hide its sources, was submitted to me for formal written feedback. The student was given the opportunity, and the benefit of my considerable labour locating the sources of the stolen material, to rewrite the work. It was subsequently formally submitted still heavily plagiarising sources even more cleverly disguised.

I awarded it a mark equivalent to a fail. The senior member of staff who asked me to supervise this dissertation, with a warning to "watch out, he is a copier", second marked it and gave it a high mark.

Resisting emotional pressure from the senior staff member, I submitted the work to the university's plagiarism committee, via internal mail, whereupon it was summarily returned because, according to the senior staff member, it contained "insufficient evidence of plagiarism". The committee has not confirmed this in writing or even acknowledged receipt of the dissertation.

I feel emotionally bruised by my attempt to deal with plagiarism and fear the consequences of having unwittingly transgressed an invisible line. It will be a long time before I can be "arsed" to confront plagiarism again.

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