Note to students plagiarizing research papers: if you decide that it's a good idea to hand in a paper that consists of copying-and-pasting a Wikipedia entry, make sure you take out the html tags interspersed throughout the text before handing it in.

Ask anyone who knows me well – I love a good scam. I respect a clever thief. But conversely, there aren't really too many things I tolerate less than someone who's too lazy/stupid to put some thought and effort into their cheating.

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  • As a fellow educator, may I just say: Amen, and Amen, and Amen. GOOD cheating–the cheating that actually takes MORE intelligence and creativity than the assignment itself, is something to be admired (if not forgiven, since anyone who gets CAUGHT cheating has already violated the primal law of intellectual malfeasance–"It's only cheating if you get caught"), but lazy cheating is really just a student's way of saying: "My dumb-ass grader is WAY too stupid to notice my lame-ass chicanery." But guess what, kids? When it comes to cheating–and pretty much everything else–we're smarter than you. All of us. Why? Because trying to cheat a teacher is like trying to tell a old bartender a joke he hasn't heard before–you can't. We've heard/seen it ALL, and while you may think you're the first to attempt this brilliant ploy, you're actually the 679th. And it didn't fool us the first time. Jackasses…

  • That's damn funny… but what's more interesting is that the word "cheater" can be rearranged to spell "teacher."

    Deal with that!

  • Those of you who know me may know this story. But I feel I'd better keep my name out of it. Anyway… In a course I taught (of mainly first-year students) at the U of Illinois, students were required to turn in photocopies of all their research in addition to their actual papers. (If they used a book or something, the could just turn in photocopies of relevant sections. This wasn't my policy, it was my course director's.) Anyway…

    I had a student who was already late turning in a major paper. She must have been in a pretty big damn hurry to get it all together, because she stapled a copy of someone else's paper on the same topic from the same course from a previous semester in with her "research." If you've taken the time to do research, why not just write the damn paper? It wasn't even a good paper. Such laziness.

    It gets better. When I confronted her about it, she told me she got it from ANOTHER student in the class, whose roommate had taken the class a few semesters before and chosen the same topic. This student, who had given the first student the paper, had joined the class late in the semester because of health problems. Normally, at the beginning of the semester, we have the students sign an "Academic Integrity" form, just acknowledging that they are aware of the university's standards. It's a lot of freshman, so we just give them a heads-up on college standards (compared to high school, where you might get by on "I didn't know it was cheating"-type plagiarizing nonsense). This particular student was a junior, though, so I didn't worry too much about the getting the form signed. The form has no binding power, anyway — it's just a reminder. The University policy is in effect for all classes, whether or not they have such a form. The truly astounding part is that, in her defense, this student's main argument was that she hadn't turned in her "I promise not to cheat" form. Thereby arguing that she hadn't agreed not to cheat? Needless to say, she didn't fare too well. Neither did her roommate, who contributed the paper with her name still on it. I'm pretty sure they all got formal notes about cheating put in their university files.

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