As someone who regularly talks about their OU degree on here, I have come to expect, and of course accept, that I will get referrals from search terms relating to the assignments and TMAs in the courses. Of course, I would be stupid if I didn’t believe that would happen.
What does however surprise me is how people seem to be searching for TMAs that they can simply copy. Are people really that stupid? It would appear so.
And then add to that the amount of messages that constantly pop up from the OU themselves on their StudentHome section about plagiarism, and most recently, the selling of essays on eBay. People really are that freaking stupid.
Here is a message from the OU (sent in March) about the selling of assignments:
We are often contacted by students who are concerned about seeing TMAs advertised for sale on the internet. The selling or distributing (or advertising for sale or distribution) of assignments is a disciplinary offence.
This means that disciplinary action may be taken against students who are found to be selling assignments on eBay or other internet sites. You should also be aware that the Open University uses plagiarism detection software which highlights where students have copied parts of assignments either from other students’ assignments or from internet sources.
Here’s part of another message from the OU, (sent in February) about plagiarism:
For all students of A210, an important reminder about plagiarism.
If you submit an assignment that contains work that is not your own, without indicating this to the marker (acknowledging your sources), you are committing plagiarism.
Submitting work that has been done by someone else and persistent borrowing of other people’s work without citation are obvious instances of plagiarism and are regarded as cheating. Paying for work from other sources and submitting it as your own is also cheating.
And, here’s part of yet another one, this time from January:
Misuse of social networking sites
It has come to our notice that a very small number of students are posting assignment questions on to social networking and news group websites, and asking other people for the answer to these questions.
Getting someone else to answer an assignment question for you and/or copying an answer provided by someone else into your own assignment and passing this off as your own work, is a form of cheating and is strictly forbidden. Any student who is found to have posted a question to such an online site and/or used an answer that appears on such a site is liable to be penalised in accordance with the Open University Plagiarism Policy.
If you discover an assignment question or answer posted to such a site, please let your tutor know immediately. They will inform the relevant section in the University, who will investigate this further and take action as appropriate.
I can only assume that the fact these messages are sent at the rate of one per month must mean that there is a problem with plagiarism? Are some people really stupid enough to think that just because it’s not a ‘proper’ university in the sense that we don’t go to a campus every day, that they don’t take these things seriously?
Let us have some statistics. These are per month, the percentage of OU related search terms that got people to this website:
April 2009 (so far): 62% (64% of those related directly to TMAs)
March 2009: 45% (78% of those related directly to TMAs)
February 2009: 46% (57% of those related directly to TMAs)
January 2009: 53% (68% of those related directly to TMAs)
December 2008: 47% (58% of those related directly to TMAs [One result even mentioned the word ‘plagiarism!])
November 2008: 32% (73% of those related directly to TMAs)
October 2008: 10% (85% of those related directly to TMAs)
And it’s not even the percentage of those which relate to TMAs that bothers me. It’s the terms themselves. No-one tries to hide what they’re doing, I guess. Here’s a little sample of some of the terms used:
can anyone help with my first assignment of aa100,
dd100 essay answers tma 03,
assignment 01 aa100 the arts past and present what to write in first part,
facebook dd100 tma03, (WTF??)
dd100 tma 02 marked essay examples,
aa100 completed assignment 1.
Perhaps the most concerning of all was this one: “dd100 free essays”. I don’t think so.
I write about my course here because it makes me feel better, and I hope that somewhere along the line it might help someone. Not to find a pre-written essay, but more along the lines of realising that they aren’t the only people feeling the way they feel about it. I’ll be the first to admit that, sometimes, these courses are hard. Sometimes I just want to set fire to the course books, but I’m not alone in that, and sometimes we all need to realise that a lot of other students will feel the same. And the OU is very different to a ‘normal’ university: we don’t have the conducive environment. It’s more difficult for us in terms of motivation.
If you’re going to plagiarise on an OU course you’re only doing yourself a disservice. You’re only pissing away your own achievements, time and life. In order to get graded with the OU we have to get, on average, 15 – 20% higher marks than people who go to brick universities. Why are you ruining it for everyone else? Why are you so arrogant to think that you can get away with it?
To anyone that comes to this blog, post, or just site in general from any of the search terms above, or similar/related ones, then you definitely won’t find any of my assignments online. Oh no. I’m not that retarded. And, I’m doing you a favour. These courses aren’t so hard that you cannot start, write and complete these essays yourself. FFS, pretty much everything you need to know is included in the course materials! Instead of being lazy and looking to rip off other people’s work, why don’t you search for things relating to the content of your essay? You’ll probably find far more useful information if you look in the right places. If you’re running out of time to finish your essay and need an answer quickly, well that’s your fault.