Getting ahead of ourselves

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I recall an IB extended essay examiner’s report in which the examiner deplored the number of essays which appeared to have been written at the last minute; all the URLs of websites in these essays had been accessed on the same day (presumably different same days for different essays). There was no indication as to whether these essays had been marked down because of this, possibly as part of the criterion which takes in holistic impression. Nevertheless, the tone of the comment suggested that the examiner/s disapproved.  Perhaps he thought that the dates of access should provide evidence of continued research?

Curious.

This examiner’s report came to mind as I tried to work out a reference for A geometric realisation of 0-Schur and 0-Hecke algebras by Bernt Tore Jensen and Xiuping Su.  Authorship, title, journal title, volume number and issue, even the pages in the print journal, they are all clear enough.
The problem comes with the date of the journal. Here we are, it’s December 2014, and the paper I want to cite is dated February 2015. How do I cite a paper which hasn’t been published yet? Except … it has been published, there it is, on the internet, and it even has a DOI.

There are ways, there are always ways. (Almost always – I’ll come back to that.)

Chicago-style referencing, I learn from the LibGuide at Emory University,  uses the terms “preprint” for papers which have not yet been accepted and “forthcoming” for papers which have been accepted but are not yet published respectively.  That’s not quite the case with the maths paper – it has been accepted – and it’s been published, pre-published; it’s available online, even if not yet published in print…

MLA is a little more elusive, but I tracked down an article by Nate Kreuter in Inside Higher Education which suggests using “Submitted for Initial Review,” “Revised and Resubmitted,” and “Forthcoming” to describe the various stages of pre-publication. Once again, “Forthcoming” doesn’t really cover the case, but it’s as near as we are going to get.

As I often find, it is APA which offers the most sage advice (though of course you can’t use MLA for some references, Chicago for others, and APA as and when it suits; referencing doesn’t work like that).  The excellent APA Style blog offers good advice in the post Almost Published. Again, depending on the stage of pre-publication, you might use
“Manuscript in preparation” for papers still being written,
“Manuscript submitted for publication” for papers submitted but not yet accepted,
“in press” once the paper has been accepted but before publication, and
“Advance online publication” for papers posted online but not yet available in print. That’s our case exactly!

Jensen, B.T., & Su, X. (2014). A geometric realisation of 0-Schur and 0-Hecke
            algebras. Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra. Advance
            online publication. doi:10.1016/j.jpaa.2014.04.022

It’s the last piece of advice in the APA style blog-post that gets me, that sparked that memory of the IB examiner, not liking all the URLs being accessed on the same day: the blog ends with a reminder to keep updating the reference until you are ready to submit your paper.  That’s just what the examiner seemed to object to.

The advice ties in with that in the APA manual itself, keep testing your URLs, especially just before submission and publication;  update with the latest URL if possible; if the page has disappeared, find a different source; if you can’t find it, and you cannot find a different source, drop it altogether (APA6 2010, p. 192).

It’s what I tell my students: if you can no longer find the piece/passage/source you used to support your statement or argument, and you cannot find anything which says much the same thing, perhaps it wasn’t such good support after all?  (That’s the exception to the “always ways” notion above.)

Footnote

The pre-publication history of this paper is interesting; this is available in the downloadable pre-publication paged PDF file, and adds further insight to the publishing process.  It might not be essential reading, but it does provide a hint for those interested in seeing how knowledge grows, bit by bit.

 

 

Of serendipity and procrastination

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Some call it “procrastination,” some call it “following your nose.” Maybe it’s a bit of both. Especially when you should be doing something else, anyway.  Following your nose can lead you to places you did not know you wanted to go.  That’s serendipity for you. And for me.

As well as (instead of?) what I should be doing today, I am also writing a follow-up piece to my earlier post, Not just honesty. It’s getting longer and longer, and I might well make two more articles out of it. My fact-checking for this follow-up piece took me to the bibliographic management tool EndNote. Wow! It claims to offer more than 6,000 bibliographic styles,  and while many of them are surely very similar, there will be some major differences too. Continue reading

Not so easy does it

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I was recently asked my opinion of the EasyBib add-on for Google Docs.  I don’t – didn’t – have an opinion. I haven’t tried it.  But, pushed by the request, I took a look.

First, though, I had a look at EasyBib itself, to see if an issue I had noted before had been addressed.  It hadn’t.  While checking, I found a lot of features new to me – and many more issues to add to my list of concerns.

So, let’s go over these first.

Auto-citation generation

The first thing I looked at was whether EasyBib had improved the way it handles dates, in its automatic citation generator mode. I have remarked before [Getting it wrong] that it seems to convert (some) British dates to US dates.  Nothing has changed.

 

Here, 1 December 2014 is interpreted as 01-12-2014 and so becomes January 12 2014.

Anyone relying on auto-citation might, or might not, notice that something is wrong.

There are other details that EasyBib’s auto-cite feature cannot always find or identify, such as the author, the title, the publisher, even when they are plainly there… Some omissions are highlighted, and users are invited to complete the missing details themselves.  I understand (anecdotally) that few students do. They tend to accept whatever EasyBib gives them, and few check what is missing or the actual citation generated. Some omissions are highlighted, some entries are just plain wrong.  It’s a quick-and-easy route to disaster. Continue reading

Not just honesty

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I am loathe to accuse anyone of plagiarism, especially a fellow-professional, but sometimes it is a close call.

In the case of the two sites I am looking at in this post, it is a very close call. In one case, it’s not a call, it’s a shriek.

I have mentioned my alert before, my Google alert for the phrase “every written assignment they complete” (see Thirty percent).

My alert came up with two hits today. One was a Prezi with the title “Effective Research and Avoiding Plagiarism” and the other is a blog, “How to avoid plagiarism…“.   If my suspicions are correct, Continue reading

Three times – but still not true!

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Three times just recently I have been told that mathematicians do not need to know about citation and referencing because they do not cite other people’s work.

Three times is more than coincidence.  But, for mathematicians as for any other academic discipline, this is just not true! Mathematicians do cite. A look at any mathematics journal shows that mathematicians cite their sources. Papers with 50 and more references are common, and they all cite the sources in the text.

But these looks at mathematics journals do reveal something curious. Mathematicians do not always cite their sources, by name, in the text.  Is this where the myth originates?  What mathematicians commonly use is Continue reading

Seriously, though…

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One of the most telling moments during my recent “tour” came in a Q&A session with year 11 students.

I had already had one 50-minute session with this group.  The session had gone well, although I sensed that not every student had been giving me their full attention. was attentive. There had been some restlessness, some murmuring, some clearly not looking at the screen unless provoked by direct question.

The telling moment came right at the start of a 30 minute follow-up session.  When I asked the group if anyone had any questions, one hand went up. When given the nod to go ahead, this particular 11th grader asked, “Do they take plagiarism as seriously at university as they do at high school?” Continue reading

Not to be copied

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I’ve been busy with workshops during these last few months, and I haven’t kept my blog up to date. I have, however, been making notes. The workshops have given me plenty to think about, and now, at last, to write about.  Stand by!

Let’s start with a conference presentation – not one I presented, but one I attended. Two presentations, in fact.

The first presentation was on search tools and information sources, and there were three co-presenters. The first tool shown was WolframAlpha which, amongst other things, provides quick factual information about many subjects. I asked where Wolfram Alpha obtained its information; the presenters did not know, but agreed that one couldn’t really cite Wolfram Alpha as a source, any more than we can cite Google Images as a source. Continue reading

Still wrong to be forgotten

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Google (Europe) continues to give people the “right” to be forgotten.  Those whose requests are upheld become more difficult to find; Google’s European search engines no longer link to web page/s which offend or upset a complainant.

There are ways around this, some of which are detailed in my earlier post, Wrong to be forgotten.  One way is to make the complaint public.  The “Streisand effect” comes into play, by which a complainant gets more publicity for having made a complaint than was achieved by the original report, drawing attention to oneself.

Debora Weber-Wulff today announces that she too has had links removed from one of her web pages, in a post entitled Notice of removal from Google Search. Google gives no right of appeal, nor indication of who made the complaint, so Dr Weber-Wulff has kindly furnished Continue reading

Not as I do, but…

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Cory Turner has posted a piece on nprED (How learning happens) : Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software. It hasn’t exactly gone viral, but there are at least 60 tweets and blogs which link to it, all within two days.

It is a report on a radio broadcast (a news item fronted by Turner) which is linked to from this page; also linked is a transcript of the broadcast.

First off in the broadcast, Chris Harrick, a vice-president in Turnitin’s marketing division, is explains what Turnitin is and how it works. A number of educationists then speak, some for Turnitin and some against Turnitin.

It is made clear that Turnitin does not detect plagiarism, but that it does detect matches, similarities of text. One of the problems mentioned is that Turnitin often throws up Continue reading

Copycat plagiarism

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I think that history – or at least a politician’s web-site – is being rewritten even as I write. Oh dear.

The politician is an Australian senator, Glenn Lazarus. A page on the Courier-Mail website (21 August 2014) carries the headline Clive Palmer party senator Glenn Lazarus caught plagiarising Wikipedia.

Lazarus is, of course, not the first Australian politician to be caught out using Wikipedia as a source:  Greg Hunt uses Wikipedia research to dismiss links between climate change and bushfires, though in Mr Hunt’s case Continue reading

How much plagiarism? (revisited)

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The Bangalore Mirror today publishes a report:  Ctrl-C-Ctrl-V, but only up to 25%, VTU tells its PhD students, with the sub-heading

After installing new anti-plagiarism software to sniff out borrowed material, the technology varsity has realistically left some room for ‘permissible lifting’.”

It seems that students have been turning in their PhD theses with more than 50% “borrowed” material.

A VTU official said the new plagiarism software aims to inculcate in students respect for academic integrity and discipline, even as it identifies acts of dishonesty.

To restore credibility to the University’s degrees, and (as stated in the article) “to inculcate in students respect for academic integrity and discipline, even as it identifies acts of dishonesty,” the amount of allowable plagiarism is to be capped at Continue reading

Not so new news

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There’s an interesting article by Denny Carter in eCampus News, July 14, 2014.

Headed The top 10 ways college students plagiarize, it reports on a Turnitin study which reveals, that’s right, the top 10 ways college students plagiarize.

 

 

According to the article, Turnitin’s study was released “this month,” and there is a link to the Turnitin White Paper The Plagiarism Spectrum: Instructor Insights into the 10 Types of Plagiarism.

Carter also mentions (on page 2 of the article) “research conducted at Continue reading

’tis the season of the year…

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It seems that every year, there’s at least one high school principal who at best can’t be bothered to check that s/he is using the latest draft of the graduation speech, and at worst can’t be bothered to write an original speech and thinks nobody will notice if s/he recycles an old speech, even if somebody else’s.

Either way, such attitudes might be thought to show great contempt for the graduating class.  It might be your great day, they seem to say.  I’ve got other things to think about…

This year seems to have set new records.  There have been at least three Continue reading

Wrong to be forgotten?

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The ECJ ruling that individuals be allowed to request that search engines remove links to web pages which mention them, the so-called “right to be forgotten,” has come in for a lot of support and a lot of criticism. It raises a lot of questions as to whether the law is enforceable.

Some of the biggest criticisms raise notions of censorship and attempts to change history and the historical record. One of my biggest concerns is that the search engine company is judge and jury, and the “defendant” – the person or organisation behind the “offending” page – is not informed of the request unless and until the request to remove Continue reading

Aware – but of what?

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The online Times of India (30 June 2014) carries an item by Somdatta Basu, IIM cuts out copy-paste, which describes how the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM-C) seems successfully to be reducing the number of plagiarised papers submitted for assessment.

The Institute has been using Turnitin for more than a year. In the article, one IIM-C professor is quoted as saying:

“It has had the desired effect. If a professor finds that a work is not an original one, then there are penal provisions in accordance with the institute’s policy on plagiarism.”

“Penal” might not be Continue reading

Small drastic increase

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Cheating on the rise at Massey shouted the Manawatu Standard on 18 June 2014, in a story written by Lucy Townend and featured on Stuff.co.nz.

‘Support cheating students’ shouted the Manawatu Standard on 20 June 2014, in a story written by Lucy Townend and featured on Stuff.co.nz.  This story is much the same as her earlier piece, with the addition of an interview with the President of the Massey University Students’ Association.

Cheating students ‘need more support’ shouted The Dominion Post on 21 June 2014, in an unsigned story based on and possibly written by Lucy Townend, featured on Stuff.co.nz.  [If this is not Townend’s story, there may be problems here. It is basically an edited and shorter version of her second story, mostly using the exact-same words of that story.]

The story itself: despite those headlines, it is not all bad news. Continue reading

Not plagiarism – again

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In my last post, I wondered “how do you plagiarize on a standardized test?

The answer to that question depends on your definition of plagiarism. Or, in that particular case, on how the Louisiana Department of Education defines “plagiarism.” It seems that, to that august body, plagiarism includes taking unauthorised materials into an examination, or the teacher giving unauthorisded direction to the students. Not plagiarism as we know it (Jim).

Now I have another answer. In Oklahoma, one of the CTB/McGraw-Hill state-wide Grade 5 writing tests asks students to read a passage and respond to open-ended questions using evidence in the passage.

When the results were published, the children’s teachers were concerned on at least two counts. The first was Continue reading

Its ugly head

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Once again the specter of plagiarism is sighted, broadcast in shock-horror headlines:

Plagiarism on standardized tests three times higher in New Orleans schools than rest of Louisiana (The Lens, May 21, 2014).

As you read the story, you will find some good news, it’s not all bad. The number of tests voided for suspicious erasures fell between 2012 and 2013 across the State. In New Orleans, the number of tests voided for suspicious erasures was zero in 2013, according to The Lens’ report. Cause for celebration.

But the percentage of plagiarized standardized tests in New Orleans 2013 was three times higher than the rest of the State.  That is worrying.

It is worrying for two reasons. Continue reading

Growing problems

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(mis-) Use of statistical data is growing problem

The headline actually reads Plagiarism is growing problem, teachers believe.

And it’s the first line of the story which really grabs the attention:

NINE out of 10 teachers believe their pupils copy, a survey has found.

Isn’t that depressing, masses of suspicion? Nine teachers out of ten mistrust their students?

A few lines on, the claim is repeated, with a further alarming note:

More than 92% of teachers said they think their students plagiarise, and almost a third believe it is on the increase. Continue reading

Bitter-tweet

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Last night I sat through two webcasts promoted as part of Plagiarism Education Week, promoted and hosted by Turnitin. One of the two webcasts was, I thought, spot-on, encouraging, helpful. The other was … disappointing.

In Tweets from the French Revolution? Using What Students Know to Promote Original Work and Critical Thinking, one of the speakers described a research study he had conducted.  For the first part of the study, 20 adult English learners were given an assignment : write an essay on a historical event or figure. After they had written their essays, the adults were asked two questions: (1) had they found the assignment difficult? and (2) had the assignment helped develop their critical thinking skills?

Most declared they had found the assignment easy, and most said that it had not required critical thinking.  Meanwhile, a check revealed that every single student had plagiarized. Let’s make that Continue reading

A Matter of Definition

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In my last post, I admitted to uncertainty with regard to Jane Goodall’s unattributed use of other people’s words and thoughts: is it fair to call this plagiarism, when the faulty passages were discovered and corrections made before the book was actually published?

The situation is more complicated in that Goodall’s poor note-making and attribution practices were uncovered by a reviewer for a national newspaper, not by Goodall, not by her co-author, not by her publishers. It is the fact of pre-publication that gives me pause. It doesn’t help, though it might, if we were told if the reviewer was reading a galley proof or a pre-publication copy, or if it was the final printed hardback that he was reading. The revelation was made 4 months before the expected publication date, so it may well have been a review/proof copy.

I am inclined to think that would make a difference.  I think of schools in which Continue reading

Thinking thoughts

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Today’s GuardianOnline includes a possibly misleading article.  Today is 1 April*, and the article is headed :

 

Jane Goodall blames ‘chaotic note taking’ for plagiarism controversy
Scientist revises her book Seeds of Hope after allegations 12 sections were lifted from other websites

 

My first thought was of the date, April Fools’ Day.

My second thought was, “Not again?” – for I recalled that Goodall had been involved in a plagiarism controversy last year.

My third thought was the date again…

It was not an April Fools’ joke. But Continue reading

By any other name…

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An interesting way of putting it : “extensive text overlap.”

The full Retraction reads,

This article [1] has been retracted by the author due to extensive text overlap with a previous publication by Roberts et al. [2]. The author apologises for any inconvenience caused.

The offending paper, now retracted, is “Infantile colic, facts and fiction” by Abdelmoneim E.M. Kheir. It was published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics (IPJ) in 2012. There is a note on the page that this paper is “Highly accessed.”

The text overlap which has been identified is with Continue reading

Exceptions

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The general rules are clear: “if it’s not yours, you cite it” and “if you’re not sure whether or not to cite it, cite it.”

Most, but not all, documentation style guides include the rule, “if you cite it in the text, then you must reference it (usually at the end of the article, paper, chapter, book), and if you have a reference (at the end), then you need a citation in the text.” Put simply:

citation <> reference <> citation

There are exceptions to every rule, and documentation is no exception Continue reading

More misleading headlines

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It’s a good-news-bad-news situation. Taking the same government statement, the UK tabloids Daily Express and the Daily Mirror have two very different takes on the same story:

(Screengrabs taken from BBC News : The Papers, 3 February 2014)

 

 

The Daily Express story concentrates on government plans to raise the basic rate of pensions year on year over the next six years.  The Daily Mirror story features the current benefits and perks that pensioners enjoy which they will lose in order to pay for the promised increase in basic pensions.   Whether pensioners will be better off or not over time is not clear, and may depend on how long they live, on whether pensions continue to rise in line with inflation or the cost of living after the six years of guaranteed rises, and many other factors. On these bare stories alone, it pays to keep an open mind, and to seek further, dig deeper. Continue reading