Getting Good Grades, Plagiarism and Copyright

Okay, kids, I know it’s important to get good grades. Once I taught an A.P. class in a high school and I couldn’t believe how students went crazy if I gave them a “B” or G-d forbid, a “C”. An A.P. “B” is really good, too!

And I know I’ve blogged about pressure and am on record stating that the reason young people will try and often complete a suicide is that they feel way too much pressure to make GOOD GRADES. They can’t handle the sense of failure.

But let me let you in on a little secret. If you steal from someone else’s work on line, it’s very possible that your teacher will know that it isn’t your work. You’ll be busted. Here’s how I know.

Bloggers have ways of checking statistics. We can find out where our “hits” come from with various services that track Internet traffic.

Tonight I happened to find something unusual. I’m getting hits from a website that enables parents and teachers to check homework for plagiarism. Your parents and teachers can copy your reports (they’re not stupid) and paste them into a rectangle on the website. The site scours the Internet for quotes that may have been taken from someone else. Not even necessarily quotes, just key words that run on near one another.

I tested this, copying from a post that I wouldn’t expect any of you to use for your homework. Wow! Up came the link to my blog.

Your teacher can show you the exact source for your homework. She can show you word for word.

I suppose it’s not plagiarism if you quote a blogger directly, if you cite properly. In professional journals we have a protocol for sourcing on-line material.

But that word at the end of each post? Copyright? Last I checked it’s a legal term. So be careful about claiming work that isn't your own. Everyone has a lawyer or three in the family.

And finally, last I checked, plagiarism will get a kid expelled from most schools.

Get off line and go do your homework. Learning is fun, don’t you know? Some of us like it. Especially THIS STUFF. WHAT COULD BE MORE INTERESTING, RIGHT?

Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc


Mark said…
Very good advice. Plagiarism and Copyright should be a module taught at the beginning of every high school year. I think there are two things going on here, one, students don't really understand plagiarism, what it means, who it hurts and two, as you stated some students are so bent on getting good grades that easy access to information on line is very tempting to use.
One of the areas that we fail in our secondary school systems is to help the student understand the "why". Why do I need to do this on my own, how is this going to benefit me as an adult, why is critical thinking skills so important, etc.
Kittycat said…
Okay, yes, I use your stuff in my essays! But I credit you at the end. With a link and everything.
And I get okay grades.
Therapy Doc said…
Don't feel so bad, Kittycat. If you sourced me then your teacher just wanted to find my blog! Keep up the good work and come back often.