Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Case Of Academic Plagiarism

A university student on the West Coast lifted, verbatim, twelve paragraphs from Andrew’s blog and inserted them into a seminar paper. The paragraphs lifted from Andrew’s blog involved a history book Andrew had discussed.

The professor teaching the course sent Andrew an email message this morning, asking Andrew whether Andrew had written the paragraphs himself, which of course Andrew had. Apparently the student who borrowed Andrew’s text and thoughts—a senior majoring in history at a VERY distinguished university, and an honors student—had claimed, once he was caught, that Andrew had stolen the text from HIM. The student told the professor that he had written a large portion of his seminar paper last summer, and that Andrew had somehow obtained a copy of it and posted portions of it on his blog.

After an exchange of email messages, the professor asked Andrew whether he might telephone Andrew. Andrew consented to talk to the professor. The professor phoned Andrew at his office, and asked Andrew whether he would be willing, if it proved necessary, to sign an affidavit concerning the authorship of the blog entry in question. Andrew said he would sign an affidavit if it became necessary.

The professor said that an affidavit would probably not be needed, because if the student continued to insist that he was the author of the words, the professor would “kick the matter upstairs” and allow an academic committee to rule on the issue—and that the student would have a hard time explaining why he had adopted Andrew’s unique writing style for the twelve lifted paragraphs in his seminar paper, and those twelve paragraphs alone.

The professor told Andrew that, in cases like this, students generally revise their story after a couple of days. They figure out that it is better to confess to their professor than to have the matter referred to an academic committee for appropriate findings and action.


  1. Oh, what hassle!

    I'm truly beyond words!


  2. Hey, J.R.

    How have you been?

    Yes, the student was stupid. The professor observed that the paragraphs at issue were "too tightly-argued" and written in a style different from the rest of the student's seminar paper.

    The professor googled a couple of the sentences and only one search result came up: Andrew's blog.


    I hope you have been well.