Saturday, December 21, 2013

Is Actor Shia LeBeouf a Serial Plagiarist?

After actor Shia LeBeouf came under fire for taking the idea without attribution for his short film, from graphic novel author, Daniel Clowes, other writings by LeBeouf are suspected of being plagiarized from uncredited sources ("Shia LeBeouf Plagiarizes More Apologies, Website Sections,", December 20, 2013).

Evidence suggests that LaBeouf used comments and works by American writer Charles Bukowski, French writer Benoit Duteurtre, golfer Tiger Woods, and former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara without crediting them. Reports mention that Clowes is considering legal action against the actor.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Based on this article, it seems that even LeBeouf's apologies were ripped off from others. Why do you think a noted personality so easily becomes what appears to be a serial plagiarist?
  2. With the availability of search engines to easily corroborate claims of plagiarism in online sources, why would someone take the chance of ruining their integrity and ability to get hired for their creative abilites by using the work of others without citing? Isn't LeBeouf already rich and famous as an actor, so he doesn't need to be a filmmaker?
  3. Is it arrogance or ignorance that caused LeBeouf to engage in this behavior?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Study of European Universities Shows Wide Range of Academic Integrity Policies

The state of academic integrity policies at European universities is quite varied, with the UK providing the most comprehensive programs, according to a new study. ("UK Leads Europe in the Fight against Plagiarism," Times Higher Education, 10 October 2013). The Impact of Policies for Plagiarism in Higher Education across Europe research project based at Coventry University (UK) received 5,000 completed surveys from students, faculty, and administrators to measure "use of plagiarism software, consistency of sanctions, transparency, training, efficacy of prevention policies and efforts."

Surprisingly, Germany and Finland, with highly-regarded educational systems, scored low in their ability to handle academic integrity issues. Some individuals surveyed in France thought that academic integrity was not an important topic for undergraduates. Students in Spain noted that plagiarism detection software was seldom used and policies for academic integrity infractions were not prevalent. Complete results from the study will be published in November.

Discussion Questions:
  1. As a result of this study, do you think if you had a degree from a German university, it would not be considered valuable, because there would be some skepticism that you didn't follow academic integrity principles?
  2. This study acknowledged some lack of completed studies from low-performing countries, so should these results be published if they project doesn't have enough data to draw valid conclusions?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Students Think That Cheating Should Be Allowed at University Exams

Chinese students in the city of Zhongxiang protest strict security measures during university entrance exams by saying, "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat." ("Chinese Students and Families Fight for the Right to Cheat Their Exams," The Sydney Morning Herald, June 22, 2013). Metal detectors used by proctors found cell phones and transmitters used to gain unfair advantage during the test. Angry parents claim that cheating on such tests in China is widespread and that not allowing it puts their children at a disadvantage. At the exam held last year in this city, some 99 papers were found to be copied.

Discussion Questions:
  1. What is the point of allowing everyone to cheat on a university entrance exam?
  2. Comments on the weight placed on memorization and recitation in China prevent students from learning how to think for themselves. The Chinese government hopes that "creativity and innovation" will help the country grow economically (The Atlantic, June 21, 2013 Do you think that essay and short answer tests are the solution for curbing cheating and producing students who improve China's future outlook?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jane Goodall, Plagiarist?

Using several unattributed and marginal sources for her new book, Seeds of Hope, noted author and primatologist, Jane Goodall has been labeled as a plagiarist ("Jane Goodall’s ‘Seeds Of Hope’ Book Contains Borrowed Passages without Attribution," Washington Post, March 19, 2013). In an email written as a response to these claims, she notes that she wanted to use a variety of "reliable sources." However, she seemingly took words from the less-than-authoritative Find Your Fate website according to the Post article, that doesn't list its sources. Also, her arsenal of quality information includes details lifted from Wikipedia.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Goodall isn't an expert of plants, so why do you think she decided to write a book on a topic she doesn't know well?
  2. What criteria do you use to select your sources of information for research papers? 
  3. Do you use Wikipedia for college projects? Why or why not?
  4. How do you make sure you don't plagiarize another author's work? Do you have a system for keeping a record of your sources?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Toronto School Board Chair Resigns Over Plagiarism Allegations

Due to plagiarism allegedly found in an article, speech, blog, and his PhD dissertation, the Toronto District School Board Chairman resigned his post (The Globe and Mail (CA), January 11, 2013, "TDSB Director Resigns over Plagiarism, PhD Dissertation Includes Unattributed Passages"). Chris Spence copied another author's work and neglected to cite sources in his 1996 dissertation, written before he accepted his most recent job in 2009. In a December 2012 blog post, he took similar wording from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer responding to the Sandy Hook (CT) school tragedy. In his resignation statement, he apologized for his actions.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Should a school board chairperson receive a greater punishment for plagiarism than someone in another line of work?
  2. There was no mention of him having to relinquish his degree as a result of the alleged doctoral dissertation plagiarism. Should he be required to make corrections to his 1996 PhD publication in order to keep the degree? Or should he lose his PhD due to what appears to be plagiarism?