Wednesday, 10 June 2009

of headaches, time wastage, and plagiarism

had been busy writing about 12 letters to the seminary students (not love letters but warning letters for various things like late submission of assignments and most of all, plagiarism!). plagiarism is an issue we are constantly struggling with. what we can detect is probably the tip of the iceberg. what the faculty fail to detect gets away scott free.

it is time consuming to check and double-check footnotes and sources etc. with the advent of the internet, it makes life easier for the students as they can find all sorts of stuff that they can plagiarize (sometimes wholesale from the internet!).

the faculty is fighting back!

we use internet search engines like google, google books, google scholar, dogpile, and

we also use online detection tools like or or

we use free software like viper:

and the seminary is exploring paid software like turnitin.

but all these takes time.

STM's policy on plagiarism is very clearly stated in our academic regulations:

2.6 Plagiarism is absolutely forbidden. Definition of Plagiarism: “Copying
or borrowing ideas directly from books without proper reference or
documentation, or copying notes from other students.” Plagiarism is strictly
forbidden. It will result in failure of the assignment with no re-submission
allowed. The course concerned will be deemed as failed.



my colleague, myhomilia, has responded here.

also, see the comments posted by some concerned bloggers.


Perng Shyang said...


I'll never looking forward to receive letter from you!

Sze Zeng said...

There is this famous saying that copy from one source is plagiarism. Copy from many sources, that's called research..

davinci said...

haha, most people cant produce original works, thats y, plagiarise...

sometimes, give a bit chance lah...maybe give low grading

Paul Long said...

I think it is sad that you are writing such letters as it is a poor reflection of the integrity of those students/ What is scary is that most seminary students are in seminary to prepare for full time Christian the ministry.

To me high integrity level is foundational and non negotiable for ministry.

Having said that I believe that people (even us not so brilliant people) can and do come up independently with similar ideas / conclusions as that written by famous authors.

BTW, I find it difficult to accept that we have can be truly "original" as there is nothing really new under the sun! ;-)

But I do think that if I am accused of plagiarism because I happily by God's grace (and my own study) stumbled upon an idea or conclusion that someone else had written about but I was unaware of... I should have no problem defending myself in my own words even if it will not be as eloquent as an established author and scholar. Not to be able to is a sure sign of plagiarism.

anthony said...

everyone 'copies' to a certain extent since it is difficult to be entirely 'original'. good scholarship also means to be dependent upon previous scholarship by building upon it. it is when we have to copy, we need to acknowledge our sources.

that's where the students are not doing. hard to understand why. is it pure laziness not to quote the sources where they have referred to? or a tidak-apa attitude? or one that says 'i can get away with it'? or maybe 'i won't get caught'?

oh, we do give chance. for 1st offence, they get a warning from the Dean. also, to re-write the assignment and marks will be downgraded to maximum of C+.

for second warning,a warning letter from the Dean which will be placed inside their students file, copy of letter sent to the head of their sponsoring church, and a rewrite of the assignment subjected to maximum of C+.

and in the mean time while they re-write their assignment, their grades are recorded with an 'F' first. the final grade with have an asterisk besides it to indicate a rewrite.

plagiarism is occurring even in malaysian seminaries partly due to weak command of the english language (for english department). students are unable to adequately express themselves. they are unable to summarize or present another scholars' point of view in their own words, so they copy the whole chunk. or it could be the earlier reasons of plain indifference.

my colleague, myhomilia, should give his NT version of this!

Terrence Doh, Hui-Yang said...

Is usage/utilization of more effective words from Dictionary(English/Chinese) to re-brand/re-package/re-present message/ideas (re-wording/re-phrasing/re-sentencing/re-paragraphying) considered plagiarism?

anthony said...

once a sentence is re-worded (even with a different word from the dictionary), then it is not plagiarism per se (but on issue of contents. if one has taken an idea or concept or key word from someone e.g. von Rad's heilsgeschichte or salvation history, a footnote to acknowledge should be given)