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

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

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

Still in beta?

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This week saw the official release of a new citation generator, WorksCited4U.com

More strictly, it is a “bibliography composer.” It aims to provide a free service, and it has many exciting and potentially helpful features.

The features include Continue reading

How much rewriting?

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“Plagiarism avoidance” is a term to be avoided.

It suggests that it does not matter what we write and how we write it, the aim of the game is to beat Turnitin.

It isn’t.

This is not a new line of thought. I have voiced it before, in posts such as Plagiarise better?! and Avoiding “plagiarism avoidance.”

Would that we could get rid of the “P” word, or at least use it more wisely Continue reading

Worth 1000 words

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A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. So is a good analogy.

Teddi Fishman’s horse-training analogy in her column for the March 2013 edition of Ethos, is spot-on!  The analogy  just chimes with so much of what I’ve been trying to say in this series of musings.  Ethos is the newsletter of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and Teddi Fishman is both Director of ICAI and Executive Editor of the newsletter.  Ethos is available to ICAI members only, but Teddi has very kindly permitted me to copy the column Continue reading

To link or not to link?

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Mathew Ingram raises an interesting question in his paidContent blog: is linking to a post or page from which one is quoting sufficient to avoid charges of plagiarism, or is more needed by way of attribution?

What makes the question even more interesting is that it is based on an article recently posted in The Atlantic.  It seems that the links in the original story were lost Continue reading