The main highlight of this week was spotting one of the International Relations lecturers making a cameo appearance in another unit’s textbook. I’m sure that’s pure coincidence and not a case of academics boosting each other’s publicity!
However, it was also a privilege to read an essay referring to the economic historian Sir Hrothgar Habakkuk, not particularly because it was so superb an essay, but simply because the citation (Habakkuk 1975) seems as bizarre as citing (Ezekiel 550BCE) and (Isaiah 924BCE) in an academic work!
Plagiarise – remember why the good Lord made your eyes, so don’t shade your eyes
If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.
Wilson Mizner, 1953Gabriel Webber, c2011
Sussex University unveiled the plagiarism-detecting TurnItIn software with a fanfare this week. Students can upload their essays to it, and receive an ‘originality report’ informing us of what percentage we pilfered from other, better writers before us.
The problem is, it’s rubbish.
It turned out that my essay on the EU was 13% plagiarised. For instance, my bibliography contained the line, Spanau, Calliope: Co-ordination of European Union Policy: the National Dimension. But the dastardly TurnItIn spotted straight away that I stole this phrase from a book called Co-ordination of European Union Policy: the National Dimension by Calliope Spanau. Foiled again!
It also saw through another ruse of mine, marking the phrase the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as plagiarised, because it had already been used in Britain’s treaty of accession to the EU, and presumably the writers of that treaty had shotgunned it and banned any subsequent use. Dear oh dear.
By the way, the titles of this blog post and of this section, featuring various highly amusing rhymes of the word ‘plagiarise’, were entirely created by me and are examples of my own sparkling wit. American songwriter and comedian Tom Lehrer had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
In other multimedias
The BBC was on a roll this week; she’s won two major awards, the first one for Understatement of the Year:
They also get the Innovative Use of Metaphor Prize for:
Last but not least, Southern Railway is the lucky winner of the Franz Kafka Prize for Customer Service, receiving extra credit for threatening me with a penalty fare for failing to satisfactorily navigate the following conundrum:
Coming to a CiniMultiPlex® near you
Intrepid boy reporter Gabriel discovers a plagiarism gang at work in Sussex with tentacles stretching out across the South Coast, funded by a shady Milanese opera-singer known only as “Banker” Castafiore! Aided by retired military man Captain Padlock from University Security, as well as bumbling lecturers Thompson and Thomson, he embarks on a race across the world to reach the perfect source before the enemy. But who will get their First?
“Perhaps you think the iPhone is too expensive, and many people in Africa can’t afford it.” [Yes – perhaps…]
“Suppose I say, ‘We’re all going to bake a cake. Let’s have a whip-round.'”
“Now how could we divide this cake between us in a fair way? We want to make sure everyone gets their just deserts.” [Or perhaps ‘desserts’?]
[elderly Security man ambles up 5 minutes after fire-alarm] “Sorry to keep you waiting folks!”
“I always think it’s fun, when I see one of those Canadians with their Canada backpack, to go up to them and say, ‘Hey, with your accent – are you American?’ just to p*ss them off!”
“This article was written by two people called Karsch and Karsch.” [And the surnames are pure coincidence?]
Dad: Do you want this [99p Oxfam second-hand] book? / Mum: Erm… I don’t know. Hold on, I’ll look up some reviews. [gets out Android] / Me: I’m just going to stand outside.
Waiter: I’m afraid we’ve run out of jam for your scones, but you could have them with honey instead? / Mum: You can’t have scones with honey! / Waiter: Well, you can…