Laurie Taylor column

July 2, 2004

"New software package is capable of detecting plagiarism in student essays" - The Times Higher, June 18 Right. Candidate 163,912. Let's begin with the Media Theory paper and with Question One on media hegemony. Maureen, might we have the uncorrected mark?


And now the Plagiarism Software Data Correction Factor details.

Well, the PSDCF readout tells us that lines one to 14 of this answer come directly from an essay currently available online at

Go on.

Lines 14 to are taken word for word from an essay by Walter Benjamin called The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction , while lines to 48 are copied directly from Doctor Quintock's lecture notes. Apparently "hegemony" is incorrectly spelt throughout.

By Doctor Quintock?

By the candidate. Then the readout tells us that lines 49 to 65 are extracted from Marshall McLuhan's Gutenberg Galaxy, while lines 66 to 142 oscillate between extracts from Fred Inglis' Media Theory and Stuart Hall's Culture, Media and Language.

So this is a 100 per cent plagiarised essay?

No, the PSDCF points up three completely original lines at the very end. Lines 143 to 146.

Could we hear those?

"I'm sorry this is a bit of a cat's breakfast, but you should try to make sense of Quintock's senile ramblings. Anyway, stuff the degree."

And the final PSDCF corrected mark?

That's reduced from 80 to 40 by the plagiarism correction and then raised to 50 by the originality index.

So, a modest lower two. "A bit of a cat's breakfast." Very original. Must remember that. Very good indeed. Next question please.

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