Plagiarise This! *Displays middle finger*

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.

You're under arrest for crimes against referencing

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.

Yep, because Facebook is full of really intelligent people!

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.

AA100: The Beginnings.

I feel the need to write about my course so far. It has only been officially going for about a month, and my first TMA is due by 14th November, I decided to write as I’ve pretty much finished the TMA and thus am moving beyond the first stage of this course.

In truth, when I first opened the course book a number of weeks ago I was cynical. I don’t really care two hoots about Cleopatra, and once I got to the first half of this TMA, I realised that I most definately do not connect with the source text. You see, it was easier with sociology because there was no connecting with source texts: it was mostly a case of seeing data, interpreting data, writing about it. It’s all truth, no lies (as much as government statistics can be truthful, I suppose), and it’s less opinion but more telling the truth by using long words.

The Humanities took me by surprise. I don’t think that I was expecting to be thrown into the first assignment and told to analyse a text, I thought that would come somewhat later after we’d been taught how to do it. No, we were just thrown straight in there. Fine by me, I’m always up for a challenge – too scared to ask for help, but always up for a challenge. I still have something to prove.

Having been thrown in at the deep end with this course I decided to get ahead, and now am something along the lines of 2 – 3 weeks ahead of where the planner tells me I should be. I was able to do this because we just had two weeks of half term when I wasn’t working. Suits me. I think it has helped me to warm to this course, because from the outset I was rather cold – I was seeing the course as Blue, and not the warm orangey pink that the OU want me to see it as. It was not giving off an air of being welcoming, but rather just ushering me in the door to do my worst and then getting rid of me as soon as possible because I was a quitter.

And you know what…I did think of quitting. In the first few weeks, I seriously considered giving it up. I had barely done a single thing on the course, but I wasn’t connecting with it, and meeting the people in my tutorial group didn’t help – I felt even more out in the cold. A larger part of me wanted to quit than wanted to carry on – but the part that wanted to carry on was, at the time, only doing it out of a “but £600 is a lot of money to lose” ethos and that’s a bad way to look at things. Now that I’m ahead, things don’t feel so distant and disconnected from me, in fact I feel as though I have embraced them, taken them under my wing, they are my ducklings now and I will nurture them.
I hope that I can continue to nurture them, especially now that I’ve seen book two. Irish Nationalism, Violins and Gothic Revival Architecture (probably three passionate subjects for me) are all included.