[DWJ] fighting the Paper Mills was re: Classics

Jackie E Stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Thu Nov 5 16:54:35 EST 2009

Some semesters ago, I had a student who turned in a paper on Nancy Drew
that was, word for word, the wikipedia entry. When I sat down to talk to
her about it, she claimed, with a straight face, that she had written it
herself.  I showed her the two print outs with all of the parallel
passages highlighted (essentially every single word).  She stared at it
for a while, then said that she had NO IDEA how her paper could be word
for word the same as wikipedia, because she really, really had written it
herself.  (I figured she was going to claim to have written the wiki
entry, but that apparently didn't occur to her).  

Then she claimed that our department secretary is her aunt, but in making
the claim, she mispronounced the person's name.  Really? I said, puzzled.
 What does that have to do with anything?  (aside from the fact that you
apparently don't know her well enough to get her name right, I thought to
myself).  Then I just went back to the "how about you just explain this
to my satisfaction" conversation.  

I later found out that at the same time she was in my class, she also was
caught plagiarizing in a writing course taught by a lecturer and that she
actually made dire threats against the lecturer--she was going to get her
fired, etc.  Apparently she perceived me as being less vulnerable to such
manuevers and so tried the nepotism route.  (I'm afraid I would have
laughed at her if she had tried such threats--I mean, it was all so
ridiculous!  Word for word!  Wikipedia!  How can you face that with a
straight face?)

She was, in the end, very angry at me for not believing her and she
clearly felt put upon and and wronged.  

I truly, truly don't understand that mindset.  Usually, when I catch
them, they at least make a pretense of being sorry.  (I did have one guy
write me a letter telling me that he "forgave" me for catching him
plagiarizing.  That was a bit creepy.)

On Thu, 5 Nov 2009 15:27:42 -0500 (EST) deborah.dwj at suberic.net writes:
> robyn suggested
> >> Dude, who needs turnitin when most plagiarizers are too stupid to 
> change the
> >> font so that their copypasta matches the rest of the essay?
> I am thankful that there just aren't going to be paper mills
> selling papers my students could possible use.
> On Thu, 5 Nov 2009, Minnow wrote:
> > There was a published book that did this, some years ago: much of 
> it was in
> > one font and reasonably competent fantasy-Irishrey based on old 
> stories,
> > but two pages or a bit more were pure gold -- and in a different 
> font.
> > They were word-for-word lifted from James Stephens' *Irish Fairy 
> Tales*.
> I reviewed a technology book at one point and, puzzled about why
> the tone and writing style varied so much from paragraph to
> paragraph, I asked Ms. Wikipedia.  And yes, in fact she'd written
> most of that chapter.  My review was ... interesting.
> And now, off to class.  Coraline, Sabriel, and The House with the
> Clock in its Walls.
> -deborah
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