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You MUST be joking, right? Plagiarism?


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So DH had a research paper due.  He's working on a degree in Logistics.  He currently has a role in Logistics.  So, this class.....  He has a paper due and it is *not* a project.  It was required to be 10 pages.  He did 16.  It was on the necessary role of the logistics manager in shipping internationally.  (Ironically he IS a logistics manager over in Europe right now smoothing out logistics stuff. I can't even...)

So, essentially he can't publish or quote internal documents, so he outlined what process an item goes through from start to finish and what the logistics manager role is in all of this.  However, it was necessary to quote from other sources.  NOW, HE ABSOLUTELY CITED every single work.  He would cite a reference and then explain it in his own words and put in applicable experience.  Keep in mind, personal experience is not necessary for the class because this is mostly for people who want to someday get into logistics.  

He got a 56%!!!!  

And the quote from the professor?  "Although you have cited sources at most places (ALL THANK YOU VERY MUCH), I am classifying it as plagiarism in most instances, the question is what was your contribution?"

What? 

Are you even kidding me?  This was a paper, not a project.  It was supposed to be created from sources, not first hand knowledge.  How does one write a research paper without citing others' work?

DH has gotten, thus far, straight As.  And for good reason.  He gets reimbursed by his company for As and Bs.  This has knocked him down to a 73%.  

Would you consider a formal complaint?  Why?  Why not?  Curious.

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And to clarify:
 

pla·gia·rism
ˈplājəˌrizəm/
noun
 
  1. the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.


    Not once.  Not one, single, solitary time did he fail to cite a single quote, statistic, or idea.  Not once.
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2 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

I’ve had that happen.  I’d absolutely appeal it unless he has no thesis he has clearly stated and argued, using the papers as evidence to support his conclusions.  

The approval for the basis of the paper had to be approved before the paper was due.  His paper was not based on a thesis but to explain - the role of the logistics manager in international shipping and outline that process and role.  It was approved. 

First - PLAGIARISM?!  Just no.
Then - C.  A C?
THEN - out the $1600 for the class reimbursement.

Nice.  So who would he file appeal with?

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I don't know about reporting it-if he thinks it will work, then, yes. But, just wanted to offer hugs and understanding about college professor's who have unreachable expectations and who seemingly don't have a clue. That may sound harsh, but I had some who caused me to shake my head.

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I would assume that the professor isn't stating that there are too many quotes in the paper.  Taking an stance on a topic requires   finding appropriate quotes, and, most importantly, linking them together without just regurgitating the original author's statements.  

Your DH cited and then explained it in his own words, basically repeating the citation - I think this is where the professor is hung up.  

I'd make an appointment during the professor's office hours to go over the paper.  

 

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That sounds insane.  I think he should maybe clarify the teacher's position (how do you define plagiarism) and then go over his head i.e. to the department chair and ask what he should do about it.

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1 minute ago, Arctic Mama said:

If he wasn’t even defending a thesis that’s even worse.  What, did they want him to generate entirely new content with no evidence?

That's exactly what I said!!!  There was no project here.  Heck yeah he was going to be quoting.  He cannot publish stuff from his own company.  We like his job better than that, kwim?!  Plus, most of these students aren't even in logistics roles - they have no personal experience to draw from.  So he put in personal examples, etc., to clarify and explain and make it more relevant and, well, less dry.... ;)  Ugh.  So irritated. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Plink said:

I would assume that the professor isn't stating that there are too many quotes in the paper.  Taking an stance on a topic requires stating your own opinion,  finding appropriate quotes, and, most importantly, linking them together without just regurgitating the original author's statements.  

Your DH cited and then explained it in his own words, repeating the citation - I think this is where the professor is hung up.  

I'd make an appointment during the professor's office hours to go over the paper.  

 

Not possible - ERAU Online.

DH has an MBA and another two MS through them and a sparkly GPA.  This paper was definitely up to par.  He's been a student there for three previous degrees. 

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I gotta tell you, it's the call out of plagiarism that is so vile.  Truly.  

It's like being called a liar.  It's just.... 

 

If you do not like the paper, give a bad grade.
If you think he cited too much, say that.
If you think there should have been more explanation, say that.  
Calling it plagiarism is an entirely different arena and if you do that, you better mean exactly what you said.  So insulted.

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I would email the professor. I would want the professor to clarify what exactly was wrong. He has to be able to point to something as plagiarized.  If that got nowhere, then I would see who I could email to up the chain.  I would not accept it. And I do realize many schools will back the professor, but it is worth the fight over it. 

 

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3 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

Not possible - ERAU Online.

DH has an MBA and another two MS through them and a sparkly GPA.  This paper was definitely up to par.  He's been a student there for three previous degrees. 

I should have said up front that I don't think it necessarily sounds like plagiarism (I can't know since I obviously haven't read the paper) - just trying to identify where the disconnect between your DH and the prof might be.  Is there really no way to connect with the professor about a contested grade?

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Even if it is an online course, there should be some way to follow up with the professor.  Is there some opportunity to Skype or meet via some alternate electronic platform?  If not, I would suggest he follow up with the professor via email.  Is the problem perhaps related to the way in which he provided citations?  Can the professor not clearly tell what work came from what sources?  Does the professor think that something was a direct quote and not clearly shown as a direct quote (with only the source of the material cited)?

I would suggest that he look up the way these issues are handled at this school, if he is not already familiar with the process.  Some schools allow for a professor to penalize for plagiarism and the student must appeal the decision through a given process.  Other schools require that a professor recommend an investigation but the professor is not allowed to assign a grade penalty until that investigation is complete.

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It sounds like the professor believes the personal examples cited were taken from his sources, so there is minimal independent writing in his paper. It will be interesting to see what his professor's response is, but it does seem like something that should be easily resolved. 

How frustrating to get the grade on a Sunday and have to wait for an answer.

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One additional thought.  Is there any chance that someone else in the class turned in a similar paper?  I have a colleague that received identical papers from two students.  It turns out that the students worked at the same place.  Student A found Student B's paper in the fax machine at the office and copied it (Student B was not aware that his paper had been copied).  At first my colleague did not know if Student A copied from Student B, Student B copied from Student A, if both students bought the paper from the same outside source, or if the 2 students had colluded.

The professor's comment regarding what his contribution was (rather than pointing out a particular instance of plagiarism) seems odd to me.  I would definitely seek more information from the professor about the situation.

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9 minutes ago, ThisIsTheDay2 said:

It sounds like the professor believes the personal examples cited were taken from his sources, so there is minimal independent writing in his paper. It will be interesting to see what his professor's response is, but it does seem like something that should be easily resolved. 

How frustrating to get the grade on a Sunday and have to wait for an answer.

This is what I think too.  Given that others are students then reading the personal experience might not have registered as such.  Maybe the Prof didn't remember "oh, this is the guy who already works in the field."

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I am guessing the teacher does not realize that this is an area of expertise for your husband and thought he must have gotten his knowledgeable commentary from somewhere other than his own head.  It is possible the prof could be moved by a friendly discussion.  But be prepared to go over his head if the prof is too arrogant to reconsider.  (I've had my unfortunate share of dumb inflexible profs.)  (No offense to any profs here, who I'm sure are sensible and fair.)

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12 minutes ago, jdahlquist said:

One additional thought.  Is there any chance that someone else in the class turned in a similar paper?  I have a colleague that received identical papers from two students.  It turns out that the students worked at the same place.  Student A found Student B's paper in the fax machine at the office and copied it (Student B was not aware that his paper had been copied).  At first my colleague did not know if Student A copied from Student B, Student B copied from Student A, if both students bought the paper from the same outside source, or if the 2 students had colluded.

The professor's comment regarding what his contribution was (rather than pointing out a particular instance of plagiarism) seems odd to me.  I would definitely seek more information from the professor about the situation.

Couldn't have.  Each had to come up with their own topic and the class is almost over so I would expect the topics to be broad.

Not only that, his experience is pretty unique.  He works at a aeronautical company as an actual logistics manager.  I have to imagine most people are taking this class to get a similar job.  He's taking it for different reasons but I cannot believe there are many logistics managers in the class and so his perspective is going to be unique.  It was an analysis directly from his own perspective of how his company would handle an international order from the moment the PO is placed until it is ready to ship.  There's just really no way for anyone to duplicate it unless in his company, in his role, using his sources.  KWIM?

I'm getting less angry as I feel more confident he can appeal and sort this out.  It absolutely cannot hold.  The professor is not American and I wonder if he is new and perhaps does not understand the definition of plagiarism?

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4 minutes ago, SKL said:

I am guessing the teacher does not realize that this is an area of expertise for your husband and thought he must have gotten his knowledgeable commentary from somewhere other than his own head.  It is possible the prof could be moved by a friendly discussion.  But be prepared to go over his head if the prof is too arrogant to reconsider.  (I've had my unfortunate share of dumb inflexible profs.)  (No offense to any profs here, who I'm sure are sensible and fair.)

Oh....  Gosh.  Maybe that's it?  Maybe he thinks that in his commentary that he is not pulling from his own experiences so maybe he thinks the commentary is not unique?  

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34 minutes ago, Plink said:

I should have said up front that I don't think it necessarily sounds like plagiarism (I can't know since I obviously haven't read the paper) - just trying to identify where the disconnect between your DH and the prof might be.  Is there really no way to connect with the professor about a contested grade?

Not face to face, but yes, I think if he words it well, maybe he could further explain.  Hm.  

Amusingly,  I don't think I could be more offended if this was for one of my kids.  :P ;)

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19 minutes ago, SKL said:

I am guessing the teacher does not realize that this is an area of expertise for your husband and thought he must have gotten his knowledgeable commentary from somewhere other than his own head.  It is possible the prof could be moved by a friendly discussion.  But be prepared to go over his head if the prof is too arrogant to reconsider.  (I've had my unfortunate share of dumb inflexible profs.)  (No offense to any profs here, who I'm sure are sensible and fair.)

That's what I'm thinking too. I had a similar situation happen in a summer class in college where the prof approved a topic for a paper that was an aspect of something that I was studying for my undergrad thesis. I did new work for the paper, but the prof didn't have the context that this was a topic that I already knew a ton about. So he gave me a D and yelled at me for half an hour and said a bunch of weirdly inappropriate things when I went to speak to him about it. I ended up resolving this through the ombundsman at the university, whose job was partially to act as a go between when there was a conflict like this.

I agree with the above comment that it seems really inappropriate. If it's plagiarism, then it should get a 0 and be reported to the school for disciplinary action. Anything short of that is not plagiarism and can't be graded as such.

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8 minutes ago, StellaM said:

Did your dh put the paper through a plagiarism program like Turnitin? A lowish score on that is a good indication there's no inadvertent failure to rephrase cited arguments/examples.

If he turned in a paper to another class with his own content that he had written, and that paper was run through Turnitin, Turnitin may flag the second paper for content similar to his own writing in his first paper.

 

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I think the teacher is misusing the word “plagiarism” — which is a serious problem.

I can also see why your DH’s paper really does not meet normal standards of what “a paper” should be. A paper does not consist of a series of paraphrased sources, each followed by a personal anicdote. He’s basically expecting a “paper” grade for demonstrating the ability to read documentation and tell stories from his own life.

It’s definitely not plagiarism.

It sounds like it was heavily bulked out with other people’s work (paraphrased and correctly attributed, but not original) which prevented him from approaching the assignment appropriately. The question becomes, “Of these 16 pages, how much did you write apart from paraphrasing? What is the style, content and quality of that writing?”

If his non-paraphrase writing is only 20 to 50 percent of the paper, and is largely anecdotal instead of academic... I get it.

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It sounds like the professor didn't explain clearly what they wanted. Hopefully your DG can discuss the paper with the prof and revise for a better grade or at least understand what is expected before the next assignment.

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Is it possible that the issue isn't that he didn't cite the sources he used, but that he put in things that were 'unciteable' because they were his own experience? A research paper can't rely on that, usually. I think then it's more like a case study than a research paper. 

I have no clue about this field but generally speaking in a uni / college research paper pretty much every sentence is followed by a citation. Only exception to that I can think of is  English lit analysis papers where you can make your own arguments about a close reading of a text. Otherwise, gosh, research papers are just sentence (cite) sentence (cite) sentence (cite) Smith argues (2016)  etc etc. 

this is an interesting little article on self-citing https://rasmussen.libanswers.com/friendly.php?slug=faq/32668

I wouldn't call this plagiarism though.

 hope your dh can have a good meeting with this prof (perhaps ask for the department chair to attend as well since this allegation has been made?) and sort this out. 

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8 hours ago, Kim in Appalachia said:

I would email the professor. I would want the professor to clarify what exactly was wrong. He has to be able to point to something as plagiarized.  If that got nowhere, then I would see who I could email to up the chain.  I would not accept it. And I do realize many schools will back the professor, but it is worth the fight over it. 

 

This is exactly what I would do.  And I wouldn't think the school would back the professor - in my experience, the opposite is true where I teach.

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13 hours ago, SKL said:

I am guessing the teacher does not realize that this is an area of expertise for your husband and thought he must have gotten his knowledgeable commentary from somewhere other than his own head.  It is possible the prof could be moved by a friendly discussion.  But be prepared to go over his head if the prof is too arrogant to reconsider.  (I've had my unfortunate share of dumb inflexible profs.)  (No offense to any profs here, who I'm sure are sensible and fair.)

This is possible. I know other people have found that some profs think anything that is "too good" is plagiarism.  

Ds had a concerned professor in Economics his first college semester.  (He was DE, but the prof didn't know it, it was a huge class.)  He got an e-mail that the prof wanted him to come to the office to discuss the paper.  He was nervous, but really thought the prof wanted to discuss his insights.  He spent hours on the paper and was really into the topic.  They discussed the topic, and ds loved the individual conversation.  It turns out that the professor wanted to talk to him because it was upper-level writing, and he didn't see that coming from a freshman.  He was afraid he had bought it online.  I'm glad the professor took the time to meet him rather than screaming plagiarism at first sight.

So it's possible that your dh's paper was "too good" and his prof is not as thoughtful as ds's was.

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14 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

Couldn't have.  Each had to come up with their own topic and the class is almost over so I would expect the topics to be broad.

Not only that, his experience is pretty unique.  He works at a aeronautical company as an actual logistics manager.  I have to imagine most people are taking this class to get a similar job.  He's taking it for different reasons but I cannot believe there are many logistics managers in the class and so his perspective is going to be unique.  It was an analysis directly from his own perspective of how his company would handle an international order from the moment the PO is placed until it is ready to ship.  There's just really no way for anyone to duplicate it unless in his company, in his role, using his sources.  KWIM?

I'm getting less angry as I feel more confident he can appeal and sort this out.  It absolutely cannot hold.  The professor is not American and I wonder if he is new and perhaps does not understand the definition of plagiarism?

That's what I was thinking - it sounds like the professor doesn't understand the definition of plagiarism.

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Plagiarism seems like the wrong word to me.  Maybe that is causing the confusion.  

I'd ask him to clarify.  If I were guessing, I'd say that what he did was not what the prof expected.  As someone above said, using personal anecdotes can be tricky.  

Some of these types of courses and programs designed to be for professionals can be a bit odd at times, maybe because the teachers are often industry people rather than academics.  Anyway, whatever it is I think you dh will have to talk to the prof to get some clarity.

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14 hours ago, StellaM said:

And yeah, this is the problem I had with my tutor, who thought undergrads were too dumb to come up with their own ideas...so when an own idea appeared, she assumed it was someone else's. 

Ugh. I had that in a grad cert. Both semesters.

One reason I've given up on academics. I'm not boring enough.

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