Isn’t it ironic?*

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Congratulations, the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad.  According to The News International (27 March 2015), the university has won a Turnitin Academic Integrity Award.

 

It is the third paragraph which catches the eye. It reads:

 

 

Turnitin claims to be the global leader in evaluating and improving student writing. The company’s cloud-based service for originality checking, online grading and peer review saves instructors time and provides rich feedback to students. One of the most widely distributed educational applications in the world, Turnitin and Ephorus is used  by more than 15,000 institutions in 140 countries to manage the submission, tracking and evaluation of scholarly work online.

Now, this seems so very similar to Turnitin’s description of Our Company

Turnitin is the global leader in evaluating and improving student learning. The company’s cloud-based service for originality checking, online grading and peer review saves instructors time and provides rich feedback to students.  One of the most widely distributed educational applications in the world, Turnitin and Ephorus is used by more than 15,000 institutions in 140 countries to manage the submission, tracking and evaluation of student papers online.

that quotation marks might be advised?  Isn’t that what academic integrity is all about?

 

* “Isn’t it ironic?” – thank you, Alanis Morissette.

 

The three legs of research

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As promised in my last post, Hang on…, here is a two-minute take on Ken Vesey’s “three legs of research.” It’s an analogy that works, especially when we try to wean students away from internet-only research, when we get them to demonstrate use of a wide range of sources.

Picture the milking stool. It’s a three-legged piece of furniture, and it’s been around for thousands of years.  Just imagine an 8-year old girl… it’s four o’clock in the morning, it’s dark outside, the girl is asleep, the cow she is milking is asleep, swaying from side-to-side, occasionally knocking into the girl as she milks away…  The girl does not fall off her milking stool because a milking stool has three legs.  Three legs make for a stable form of furniture, it is very difficult to knock it over. It’s better than furniture with one leg or two legs, and it’s better than four legs or five legs or six or .. It has stood the test of time.

Three legs are good, three legs are stable. Think about the modern camera, many many thousands of dollars worth of equipment.  Photographers and movie-makers put them on three-legged tripods. They trust their expensive to a three-legged piece of equipment, because three legs are stable.

It’s the same with research. Research based on three legs makes for stable research… the internet, yes, especially good for up-to-date information; newspapers and magazines and journals, good for contemporary reports and for concise records; books for deeper and considered accounts.  Internet, periodicals, books, all worth using. Three legs of research.

IB examiners think so too.  There are many extended essay examiner reports which complain that too many students rely on just one type of source – usually internet – and they don’t give – or get – a broad or in-depth view of their subject. Too many reports, year after year, subject after subject.

There are many many reasons for retaining books. The notion of three-legged research is just one of them.  A powerful one.

And once again, thank you, Ken.

Hang on …

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As noted in my last post, Kardinia International College library has disposed of 60% of its book collection. Manchester Central Library has recently disposed of 240,000 books, passed on to other institutions – or pulped.  Priceless and irreplaceable.  These are not isolated cases; it’s been happening for years, and the pace is increasing. Do we still need print? Is print dead?

A few days ago, I posted this on the librarians’ pages of iSkoodle, the ECIS listserv/ bulletin board, a discussion of print versus online resources, a plea to hold on to print:

I ended with a mention of Ken Vesey’s milking-stool analogy in an article for Teacher Librarian in 2005, “Eliminate “Wobbly” Research with the Information Resource Tripod.”  I invited iSkoodlers to track down Ken’s article. As yet, nobody has written to claim success.

Where would you go? Can you find it?

Teacher Librarian online might be a good place to start – but the archives go back only to 2010.

 

Not a lot of help there.

Google?  Good ol’ Google?

 

That leads us to Highbeam Research – and there’s the first four paragraphs, and, to be fair, I would be able to retrieve the full text of this whole article for free if I sign up for a 7-day free trial. It’s tempting,  

but they want my credit card details up-front and the Terms and Conditions are 4777 words long and they tell me on the sign-up page that subscription costs $199.95 a year with no indication that subscription rises to $299.95 a year once my first year is up, I have to go to the FAQ to discover this tidbit “(normally $299.95)”…

Don’t you just love surprises?

So I am reluctant to sign up, just for this one article. Maybe later, when I have the time to make the most of the 7-days trial. I might then discover just how much I could use and enjoy Highbeam Research and subscribe for real?

Meanwhile, the Vesey article.  Fortunately, there is always Ebsco!  And yes, Ebsco carries the full-text of the article. No PDF copy, unfortunately, but we do have full-text HTML.

Full-text. The text, the whole text and nothing but the text.  No pictures. The original article, as published, has four images. Ebsco’s full-text record has no images. We’re losing something.

Back to the original discussion: Can we do without our paper collection? Is print dead? Can we afford to throw out our collections and, partly or wholly, go online?  We lose if we do.

We need to hang on to ourselves (Bowie), and surely, surely, we need to hang on to our print.

[And in the next post: the two minute version of Ken Vesey’s three legs of research.]

What’s better than a book … ?

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A LinkedIn alert this morning caught my eye.  The heading reads Do you have a ‘Learning Commons’ at your school? You should! and it’s been posted by Maxine Driscoll.

“Meeting the needs of 21st Century learners.
I had an amazing experience last week. I was invited to visit the new Learning Commons at Kardinia International College a K-12 school in Australia and was blown away by what I saw! 21st Century thinking, creativity, courage and conviction! Here is…”

I like the learning commons concept. It’s exciting, it enables a refreshingly different approach to teaching and to learning. It makes learning more enjoyable, and reports promise great things. It may well be too early to say if the benefits are real, but there are aspects of learning commons that any library can use to advantage.

The post to which Maxine Driscoll’s LinkedIn alert refers is, Continue reading

Ironic

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An email came today, a comment for this blog that I was asked to approve:

Want to copy posts from other websites rewrite them in seconds and post on your website, or use for contextual backlinks?
You can save a lot of writing work, just search in google:

Daradess’s Rewriter

I don’t think so, thank you …

Citing sources makes you think…

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One reason I like an author-date style of citation and referencing is the date element: sometimes it is important to know just when a cited source was published. The standards and formality of academic referencing are not expected in non-academic settings such as blog posts or journalism or popular science – and perhaps, more’s the pity?

Regular readers will know my bugbear, that oft-quoted statement, “Recent studies indicate that approximately 30 percent of all students may be plagiarizing on every written assignment they complete.”  Not only is this statement absolute balderdash not least because the claimed studies never existed, the repeated use of “recent” is an irritation in itself. As noted in an earlier post, Thirty percent, the claim was first made in 2001, and fourteen years hardly qualifies as “recent,” not when we are talking internet history. This particular claim is regularly attributed to Continue reading

Elusive allusions

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Coincidences, again. This morning, in a post to a listserv forum, I included a sentence: “The guide’s the thing…” and then, unsure whether the allusion would be recognised, I added: “as Shakespeare so nearly said.

I was still pondering whether the second part of the sentence was necessary when my daily “plagiarism” alert popped into the inbox, pointing me to an article In praise of plagiarism by Paul Greenberg, published in Arkansas Online, 26 January 2015.

Most of the page is hidden behind a paywall, but the first paragraph is open – and, like the title, intriguing.

Could I find the article anywhere else, a page which was open and free? Copy-and-paste the article title, in quotation marks, in a Google search box, add Greenberg, hit ENTER and bang! The first authentic hit (after the paid-for ad) was also behind a paywall, the second led me to the full article, on Townhall.com

The first two paragraphs read: Continue reading

Nice like you, Ivi … Part 3

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The story so far: I am trying to learn the meaning of Ivi when used in a footnote. The only instances found so far are in four papers written by Dr Marco Soddu, all published online in Foreign Policy Journal.  At least two of Soddu’s papers are academically dubious to the point of plagiarism – and beyond.

Meanwhile, We are no closer to working out what Ivi means or how it is used.  Now read on:

The search for Ivi

Ivi is used – at least, it is used by Marco Soddu, Continue reading

Nice like you, Ivi … Part 2

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In part 1 of this post, I related the background to this quest, trying to find the meaning of Ivi, when used in a footnote.  I did not know, and my searches were unsuccessful.

In her letter, Ruth had pointed to “Kennedy and Macmillan by Dr. Marco Soddu;” this was the source that her student wanted to use. She wanted to quote a quotation used in the paper, a quotation footnoted as Ivi. page. but who was Ivi?  Did this have the same meaning as Ibid, same source as the immediately previous citation but on a different page?

It took just a few seconds to find the paper.  It is published online in Foreign Policy Journal, and in several formats, Continue reading

Nice like you, Ivi… Part 1

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This journey started innocently enough. It started with a simple question.

Ruth set me off (thank you, Ruth). She emailed to ask what Ivi means, in a footnote. I don’t know – I didn’t know.

She said that she knows Ibid. (which she suggested means: same page in the same source as the last source/footnote) and she knows Op. cit. (full details given in an earlier footnote), but she hadn’t come across Ivi before. She asked if it means the same source as in the last footnote, but on a different page?

It was important to know. Ruth had a student who wanted to use a quotation she had found in an academic paper. This makes it a secondary reference or indirect source, a quotation of a quotation. The student needed to know the author of the original quotation as well as the author of the paper in which she had found the quote. The student wanted to write something like Continue reading

Tied up in knots

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DOIs? Duh! No problem!!

No problem?

Web page URLs are notoriously unstable. Authors may make changes between one view and the next; hackers may make changes too. Page contents of a URL may change completely, or the original document might be moved somewhere different, on the same site, or to a different site. The MLA style guide no longer requires a URL as a matter of course, arguing that a good search engine will find a document, if the reference is accurate: knowing the author/s, title and publisher should be enough.

DOIs are different, and many style guides recommend the use of the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) when one is available, instead of the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). The DOI will lead to a stable version of a document. (More-or-less stable. The DOI Foundation recommends that minor changes need not be identified, although papers with major changes should be assigned a new DOI. Frequently Asked Questions about the DOI System #7. Should be.)

Curiously, MLA does not mention DOIs Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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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Since this was posted, the company critiqued has addressed a few, but by no means all, of the issues detailed here. Some of the links in this post may now lead to pages different to those listed and illustrated. The editing process has not been thorough, and the reader will soon find other errors and inconsistencies throughout the site. It is, however, not my job to proof-read their site, nor to debug the software. JRR – 30 January 2015.

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