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<Summary> YATB, Yet Another Technology Blog </Summary>

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Plagiarism In Academic Institutes

In life, everybody needs to win. Be better, stand out, get attention, for better or for worse. But then again sometimes we do things the way that is just not the right way to be done. In my undergrad I did most of the projects alone, because well, I could not find anybody to work with me or me not being ready to work with somebody else. At my institute here, however things were quite different. Most of the projects I have done, have been team projects, and I have always had the privilege to work with some of the best people around, it was always fun staying awake the whole days the whole nights and trying to find the "best" way to do the projects. There have been few others who took the easy way out, "referring" other people code and any other easy way to get the job done. A lot of times when you talk to anybody who does plagiarism, everybody has a reason. Some have "genuine" reasons, the project was too complex, and they could not do it by themselves. But then again, I know people who have done this more than once. And they have some how run out of genuine reasons. We all talk about them, but then again rarely do we talk about the reasons and the motivations behind these people. I can only talk about my own experiences. At my institute most professors encourage everybody to do their projects on their own, few of them have somehow encouraged "reusability" which has often been extended to just "copy paste work". But the thing is everybody says the people who do such things will one day be caught, one day they would be noticed. But then again, I think a lot needs to be done with the system itself only. The system may not encourage people to refer other people code, but then again on the other hand it does not even discourage people from doing so. Some of the reasons I think plagiarism is high in an academic institute are.

1) At a lot of these places, the course content remains the same for several years and so do the projects. In a Software engineering project, everybody might have to make a website, your seniors did that, so did their seniors and so did theirs, such kind of "hierarchical" projects encourage people to take code from some where in the hierarchy. Similar is the case with several of the courses like Databases, in which everybody might have to make a database engine, the same thing that might have been done for just far too many years now.

2) The lack of mechanisms, the mechanisms to detect plagiarism just don't seem to be present in Indian institutes, there are no code repositories, of previous batches wherein the code automatically goes through a process for the same.

3) Most of the professors don't give a damn about it. They are happy to see a working interface, a nice GUI that does not have pink color in the interface, and if you press "(" in the name field, it should pop up a message immediately. But none of them actually bothering to even listen to the design and the rationale for the project, the code organization or the coding standards. Why would students bother to learn or spend time on those things if some other guy who will focus more on the presentation or the GUI will end up getting more recognition or a better grade than you. All they want is some program working. This is something you expect from some professors but definitely not those who teach you about morality and telling you what is right and what is wrong, in life.

4) The evaluation, a lot of times, is delegated to Teaching Assistants; T.A though supposed to do the evaluation honestly have other motivations going on in his head while evaluating in such scenarios. Someone might have a crush on someone, someone might have had a fight with someone in the mess, and the evaluation turns out to be a play ground to settle all personal scores, once and for all.

What do you think? Do you think that our academic institutes need to look into how the things are being done, or how they can prevent such things from happening again and again, and well again.

Update: Tarandeep pointed me out to an article by Neil R. Wagner, which talks about academic dishonesty and also points out some statistics about Plagiarism at MIT.

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Blogger Mukul said...

@Iman --- To be very frank, I think this has to do with the way we Indian think...

> Almost all of us can do any thing for success! When a teacher comes in class, most of the times he has almost no desire to link with Students. Most of the time the true cause is that these professors are themselves mediocre. What you call intelligent in India may not hold true even for scientists like R P Feynman!

>Why students do not help each other more in technical sense? Why marks becomes the core issue ? Why don't we think that even a typical layman can have some ulterior knowledge than us!

>Please do not use the term Plagiarism ... sometimes it sounds technical ... may be nerdish... the truth is that it is corruption... as brutual as that of Lalu's or Jaylalitha's...

>Best students ... who often fare the top seat in colleges have good chances of doing Plagiarism. I myself have seen and in a sense have a full proof in some context.

>TA's ... I have been in that seat for a semester. Some boys literally asked me to do something for him ... I remember a girl asking me worthless questions regarding PS for half an hour. What about those answer scripts those were so common to each other... TA position can be very well used for own benefits ...

>I would also like to put some light over the IEEE papers ... and the typical research that is going in institutes ... (IIIT too). But probably I will do it in my blog very soon ...

I think in the whole thing ... somewhere I am also part of ... please dont say you are not ...

10:35 AM, January 15, 2007

Anonymous Rohini Sood said...

You r well aware of the kind of education we got wen v were in SGGS, CHD. Hoe can v forget our teachers who claimed to b the HOD's of the dept.I hope u remember them?

Remember the recruitment head of SGGS for the Comp. Science Dept.? I was quite baffled wen for the first time i saw the company's that were recruiting, they were either Call Centre's or other BPO type stuff. Ironically v were students of a "professional course" then y call centres as campus recruiters?

Isa, there certainly is no doubt that you r a "one man army". I have always applauded your honest efforts n now reading abt it :)


7:17 PM, January 23, 2007


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