What’s ‘a little’ plagiarism?

Acorn picture taken from http://smartpei.typepad.com/robert_patersons_weblog/2006/02/great_return_9_.html

As you may know from my previous post, plagiarism is a big issue for me. Recently UCAS, Britain’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, did a scan to see how much of the personal statements in university applications had been plagiarized. There have been several stories about this, including one on the BBC website, most of which seem to be basically ripped from a UCAS press release. (We won’t go into the irony of this here…) Read More …

British academia encourages plagiarism

Plagiarismdegree_1This is a gentler version of the plagiarism saga that I previously posted, a version of which has now been published in the Times Higher Educational Supplement. The previous posts were taken down on advice from colleagues that it might threaten my university employment.

It doesn’t pay to be an honest student. Early penalties for plagiarism are currently so minor that if it’s a choice between handing in nothing and handing in 15 paragraphs plucked from Wikipedia and HowStuffWorks, then you’d be mad not to cheat. There’s a chance, of course, that you’ll get caught and get zero. But then you were going to get zero for handing in nothing anyway… Read More …

Research without the workout

The sulpture at the entrance of the Kresge Engineering Library, in UC Berkeley's Bechtel Building.Though sometimes exciting, my job is more grunt work than glamour. I was recently visiting UC Berkeley and walked by the Kresge Engineering Library. I couldn’t resist going in and having a quick look at this place where I had spent so much time in 1998/1999. This also got me thinking about other libraries where I’d probably spent a day a month: like the Robertson Engineering and Science Library at the University of Edinburgh and the Barker Engineering Library at MIT. It made me realize that, in more than five years back at Imperial College London, I’d probably made it into the library an average of once a year. The reason for the change, of course, is technology. Read More …