Blessed are the plagiarists, for they will inherit the mark

The Doctor may have protected himself from potential libel suites with his Disclaimer: Libel or Naught posting, but there is still that nasty issue of plagiarism and copyright infringement. They say the best line of defense is a good offense, and since the Doctor doesn’t mind being a tad offensive, he has decided to tackle the issue head on.

The Doctor will cite religious grounds as his key defense against all plagiarism or copyright claims. In simple words, he is following the directive and past practice of the Holy Vatican. In 2012, the Holy Vatican admitted to copying the biographies of 22 newly appointed Cardinals from Wikipedia. Yes, you read that correctly – of all the academically unholy places they could have chosen from, the Vatican selected Wikipedia for their cut/paste/submit reporting strategy. In addition, the Doctor will also cite the recent regal precedent of the Peruvian Cardinal who was proven to have plagiarised from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Paul VI. Holy heaven forbid, but if it’s OK for the Vatican, then it shouldn’t be much of a sin for Dr. Strangejob.

There are also many notable cases of plagiarism in academia, including professors, research chairs, and even Vice Chancellors. In 2013, for example, Germany’s education minister was forced to resign after being stripped of her doctorate due to plagiarism. If these are academia’s current role models, then it should come as no surprise that 50 per cent of undergraduate students and 35 per cent of graduate students admitted they had cheated on written work. This is not just a Canadian or United States problem. A recent study in Britain reported 45,000 cases of cheating in 80 institutions over a three year period.

How do we deal with this issue? Praying for it to go away will not work, especially if the prayer leaders are also plagiarizing. Seeking guidance from academia will not work, especially if they are plagiarizing as well. As a professor, I required my students to submit research papers through a plagiarism checker. Although that approach caught the scattered delinquent, it reflected poorly on the student group as a whole. We encourage students to choose between cheating while praying they don’t get caught, or buying papers online. In other words, a choice between papal or paypal. Perhaps a more imaginative solution is required.

The problem is the result of a broken system, so let’s fix the system rather than focusing on a symptom of the real problem. If students are required to submit rote research papers, then they will routinely go the cut/paste route. It’s time for academia to get its head out of their ass and realize that all of the world’s information is only a click way. If we encourage students to apply knowledge rather than regurgitate data, then we will all be better off – and you can quote me on that.

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Dr. StrangeJob

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