Up to 14% of Australian University Students May Be Plagiarizing From Web, Study Suggests

Andrea L. Foster, Tidsskriftet for Universiteternes Efter- og Videreuddannelse, Nov 20, 2002
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The phrase "up to" is commonly used in advertising to indicate an amount that is theoretically p[ossible, but almost certainly not the case. "Earn up to $5000 a month" really means you will earn $5. "Lose up to 30 punds" means your scales may nudge a pund or two, if any. This study is of the same ilk. A review of of almost 2,000 essays indicated that about 14 percent of them contained "five percent" of plagiarized content. Even the higher threshold, the eight percent or so that contained "more than a quarter" plagiarized content, is suspect. And simply "checking against" existing web content is no way to identify plagiarism. To me this looks like a lot of twisting and turning to find a problem where none really exists. How many of the essays surveyed were simply lifted from essay banks? We are not told, and so my guess would be none.
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