Laurie Taylor Column

July 21, 2000

Do come in and sit down.

Thank you vice-chancellor.

Now, Mr Casbolt, we have invited you to attend this meeting of the University Plagiarism Committee because of the distinct suspicion among several members of the Board of Examiners in Cultural and Media Studies that two of your finals papers on media theory relied heavily on material other than your own.

I didn't copy.

Well, Mr Casbolt, we hardly need to waste our time on such disagreements because this committee now has an absolutely objective method of deciding the matter. On your right you will see a computer that has been loaded with a software package called Catch-Cheat that searches through a wide variety of sources in media studies, including your third-year lectures, until such time as it finds a passage or passages that correspond in a statistically significant manner with sections in your own finals papers. In order to ensure absolute fairness and prevent any accusations of tinkering, you have my assurance that the computer and software package have been kept under lock and key until this moment. Is that clear?

I suppose so.

Good. Now, registrar, if you'd be so kind as to switch on...

I'm not quite sureI.

On the right-hand side, registrar. Just above the plus sign.

Ah yes.

Now, as you can see, Mr Casbolt, the computer has gone into search mode and here comes the answer. Here it comes. Yes. As you can see, the screen shows that more than 40 per cent of the content of your two finals papers on media theory was either copied word for word from lectures given by Professor Lapping in 1999 or from a book called Media Theory by Fred Inglis, published in 1990 by Basil Blackwell.

But I've never read Fred Inglis.

Then, in the circumstances, I think we can only be glad that Professor Lapping so adequately atoned for your omission. Next candidate please.

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