Friday, January 05, 2007

Turnitin Still Sucks

I've been reading more and more about the Turnitin battles going on. I'm still amazed that higher ed has taken such a gestapo mentatilty about approaching the teachable moments that plagiarism offenses present to us. Now even Harvard is piloting the use of Turnitin, so I expect that we'll all be chewed up and swallowed before long by corporate interests because we can't handle those pesky students ourselves.

However, my current plagiarism interests lie at a slightly different place. I've been particularly bothered by the double standard of professors who plagiarize every day during classroom lectures but raise holy hell when a student doesn't cite a source.

While researching this, I came across this line in Wikipedia: "These principles apply to written or printed text. Oral discourse or presentations do not seem to be the subjects of the rules of plagiarism."

So, my question is this: Is the Wikipedia entry correct about this? Do we not consider it plagiarism to use another's words as our own in oral discourse? Give me your opinion in this poll.

In a related situation, Terminal Digit takes his (her?) med school profs to task for plagiarizing the feedback (explanations) for questions from online quizzes. He ends with this: "Phew! I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact that I spent about 30 minutes tracking all this down, or the fact that the faculty at this medical school can’t be bothered to write the answers to their own questions."

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