Safe Assign Results: Am I a filthy, plagiarising scum-bag?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by SurfDoctor, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    I just turned in a 40 page lit review for a class and they ran it through SafeAssign in Blackboard to check for plagiarism. It is too late, but now I'm worrying about a couple of sentences I wrote. I haven't received a grade yet or heard from the instructor. Here is the scenario:

    I wrote a page in the lit review about a particular article. In a couple of cases, I may have written about 10 or 15 words in a row that may be the same as was written in the article, I can't totally remember if I did or not, I was getting a little brain dead after writing so much. If I did that, it's likely that I didn't put quotation marks around the phrase or cite the article. However, the entire page was talking about the article I may have quoted.

    I know it's not Kosher, but how bad is that? Will SafeAssign even catch that?

    Example of what I think I did. What does everyone think?

    ....In article ABC, researcher such and such talked about the likelihood of XYZ happening. <A sentence or two from the ABC article here>. He thought that XYZ showed .....

    The sentence or two from the ABC article should have had quotations and a citation but it is doubtful that anyone could think I was intentionally plagiarizing from the article. At least I don't think so.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2011
  2. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    Hard to evaluate unless I had the paper in front of me, but based on your account, this seems to be "inadvertant" and would probably merit a comment on the paper.

  3. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    Without knowing the words, it is kind of hard to say. If the sentence was, "The internet has grown in popularity over the past several years and it is predicted to continue to grow" I would say you are fine. I could not imagine how many times that was said.
  4. Balios

    Balios New Member

    This isn't advice per se, but rather what I personally would do if I were in your situation. I'd report myself to the professor, point out the questionable lines and ask if I should refer the matter to academic affairs, or if it would be acceptable to to merely rewrite those sections. I wouldn't make excuses of any kind. I'd just say I made an error, caught it and need help in understanding the right next step.
  5. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    I agree, and I did that just before I read your post. However, I didn't report the questionable lines because I'm not sure there are any. It ensures that I'm busted but it also supports the fact that it was done carelessly rather than intentionally. I'll post her reply when it arrives.
  6. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Here's the email I sent. What do you think?

    Hi again Dr. -----

    I have been worrying about something. There may be a couple of places in my lit review where I may have partially quoted the article I was writing about and forgot to put quotation marks around them. The goal was to paraphrase but I was getting a little brain dead at times and might not have been careful enough. Honestly, I can't remember if I did this or not. I didn't think of it until just now, but now I'm worried about it. Just wanted to be honest and let you know.
  7. Balios

    Balios New Member

    I think you're doing the right thing. Since you opened the door, I'd follow up with a more specific email that's something like, "Now that I've had a chance to look closely, I think these two lines, on pages 16 and 21, have clear problems: <some quotes> Compare those to the original: <some quotes>" Or possibly, "Now that I've had a chance to look closely, I think this might not rise to the level of plagiarism after all. Here are the lines about which I was concerned, together with the original text: <some quotes>."
  8. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    I agree with most of the above, and while I don't have experience with SafeAssign, I do with TurnItIn, and I have to constantly reassure students that similarity "hits" aren't necessarily a bad thing, provided they're properly attributed.

    I had a student a few years ago who submitted a paper that nearly set TurnItIn on fire because of similarities, but that was because she directly quoted a lot of material (too much according to APA standards), but properly cited it. She lost points for using too many direct quotes, but didn't come close to plagiarism, as everything was properly attributed.
  9. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    In my case, there may be four or five sentences out of 40 pages that are too similar to the source and I know I didn't cite at all if I did it. However, I was talking about the article in question when I was writing so it's not like I was claiming their work as my own. It was just sloppy paraphrasing. I'll wait to see what happens. I don't expect too much trouble because it was an inadvertent mistake and not a serious attempt at plagiarism. Plus, I am pointing it out to the instructor rather than trying to get away with it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2011
  10. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    I don't know man. I think I will have to do a citizens arrest if we happen to be surfing side by side. :smile: j/k

    I think we have all done that from time to time un-intentionally. I had a Professor point out what I did, and to be very careful not to do it again. That was that.

    See ya man,


  11. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Thanks Abner, that makes me feel better. It was certainly not intentional plagiarism. I never even thought about until it dawned on me that SafeAssign might flag something like that.
  12. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Or you could just cut me off and then say something like "this is for your stinkin plagarism"
  13. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    I can't imagine any course requiring a 40 page lit review except maybe a doctoral dissertation?
  14. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    It was not required to be nearly that long. Being extra thorough because I'm using all of this material for the lit review for my dissertation, so I'm trying to get as much done ahead of time as possible.
  15. Psydoc

    Psydoc New Member

    I think that if the article you "pulled the sentences from" was discussed before and after the "sentences" you will be OK. If not, it will depend on the instructor. I agree with the others, self-reporting is a good defense. I would read the paper, find the sentences and send it a corrected copy to show that you know and can reword the sentences in a way that is consistent with proper citing. Good luck.
  16. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    This is exactly what happened, I may have pulled some sentences from the article I was talking about without identifying it as such.

    Here's what I think I did. What does everyone think?

    ....In article ABC, researcher such and such talked about the likelihood of XYZ happening. Sentence from article. He thought that XYZ showed .....

    The italicized portion should have had quotations and a citation but it is doubtful that anyone could think I was intentionally plagiarizing from the article. At least I don't think so.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I think killin' is too good for 'im. Torture is more the thing we should be thinkin' about now.:saevil:
  18. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Are you my professor secretly posing as a moderator? :eek5:
  19. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    The way I understand it (and handle it as a teacher), that isn't plagiarism, but rather "a source not properly cited", and would result in a minor deduction in points, the amount dependent on how much the assignment was worth.
  20. lifelonglearner

    lifelonglearner New Member

    Can you plagiarize yourself?

    Whether or not you can plagiarize yourself is something most students never think of. In my experience the rule most often is that once you've turned a paper in, you cannot borrow from it for other papers without proper citation.

    Many years ago I was in my first class meeting at one of Webster Universities satellite campuses and the class was visited by the Academic Dean from the main campus. He said, "The hallmark of a great graduate school is student who can write. Accordingly, we have changed the curriculum to be similar to the Harvard Business School and include two to three case studies per week. You can expect to be writing 30 to 40 pages for each case study. Be prepared, when you come to class, to present your case study to the rest of the class just as you would be tasked to prepare and present it in the workplace." The person sitting next to me started visibly shaking and I detected some wetness developing in her eyes. When I asked what was wrong she said she was afraid she wouldn't be able to to the writing. I asked how many papers she had written for her undergrad degree, to which she replied, "Well I guess twenty-five or thirty, but they were all the same paper with a different cover sheet for each course. Isn't that what everyone does?" Needless to say she dropped. I stayed and didn't have a free weekend for a year and a half.

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