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Has the Notion of Academic Cheating Changed?


I remember when cheating was easy to identify. Hidden answers for a test? Cheating. Copying another’s work (without citing)? Cheating. Working beyond time constraints? Cheating. So what is it these days that seems to make so many people justify the act? Perhaps its just the “I’m Special” generation not wanting to have anything negative associated with their persona. Maybe the Internet has made the concept of share and share alike just part of culture. Or it could be status quo and this is simply the modern evolution of yesterday’s cheater.

There was a blog about cheating in computer science at Stanford that I found somewhat applicable. The students described their motivation to cheat was that with code, it’s easy to copy and paste plus they felt the liberal arts had an unfair GPA advantage with their subjective grading. As an added twist, the students knew their professor, Eric Roberts, ran their assignments through a lexical analysis tool devised to detect plagiarism between current code and past code. These students clearly had to make the decision not only to cheat but to cheat and beat the system.

Then you have examples like German teenager Helene Hegemann who authored Axolotl Roadkill. This book has been receiving praise for her being a young author and making it #9 on Amazon’s German site along with her earlier play and movie productions. But then a reader discovered numerous passages (pages even) were completely plagiarized from another book, Stobo, without even an attempt at paraphrasing. Even more twisted is that her book is amongst the finalist entries at the Leipzig Book Fair where judges acknowledged they already knew it was significantly plagiarized.

So should I just start lying to get ahead or what?

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