Divert the cheats

July 28, 2000

In his report of internet plagiarism, Frank Furedi (Soapbox, THES, July 14) rightly highlights possible solutions. By contrast, another report ("Copycats roam in era of the net") deals with it as a catch-and-punish issue.

A distinction needs to be made between poor study skills and initial ignorance, and a serious academic offence later.

The former is a staff development issue. Rather than telling students not to copy from the web, why not require them to research three contrasting sites and evaluate the differences? If we are worried about essays being copied, ask for a title, abstract, plan, draft and final reports. This will improve time-management skills and make it harder to download a single piece of work. Plagiarism is not just a policing issue.

Ranald Macdonald

Learning and Teaching Institute

Sheffield Hallam University

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