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Don’t You Just Love Plagiarism?

February 22, 2011

Yesterday I settled down in my office to grade some papers for my introductory course on the NT and I picked up a paper (from an 18 year old student who could not be less interested in the subject) and read the following paragraph:

In the debate over homosexuality, there seemed to be little clear acceptance of the theological or hermeneutical plan that the participants were applying. In the heated atmosphere of debate in the church, homosexuality seemed like a code word for an entire worldview on thsi problem. People often said the authority of the Bible was the reason for their view on the issue, without feeling the need to give an explanation as to why they had that view.

First of all, I was surprised because the assignment (part one of a three part project designed to introduce students to the tools of critical research on the NT) was to find an article in a Biblical studies journal and interact with it. The article in question was about the issue of homosexuality in the Presbyterian Churh (USA).  Second, I was even more surprised that a student who (1) has never asked a question in class, and (2) has consistently shown zero interest in the course  would turn in a paper that sounded so….well, professional and scholarly.

I downloaded his chosen article from our library database and found that his ENTIRE REVIEW had been lifted. Of course, a few words were changed here and there, but otherwise, it was verbatim. When college freshmen are writing like colleagues, you know there’s something fishy going on.

(BTW, so that I will not be guilty of plagiarism, the above quote was taken from Jack Rogers, “Biblical Interpretation Regarding Homosexuality in the Recent History of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A),” Review of Religious Research 41 [1999]: 232).

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 7:01 pm

    At least the student didn’t copy his assignment from one of YOUR articles!

  2. February 22, 2011 7:03 pm

    I have decided to fail him for the assigment and let him re-submit it for no credit. This time I AM going to give him one of my articles. That way I know for sure if he’s plagiarizing!

  3. March 2, 2011 6:10 pm

    That’s rich!

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