Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I'm taking 2 classes right now; one easy class and one difficult class. I was completely mortified on Saturday when I bombed a homework assignment in the easy class. So, when my difficult class met last night, and we were expecting grades for our policy briefs, I was nervous. I worked hard on that brief and wanted an A.

The professor began class with an hour-long lecture on plagiarism. He said that using software, he had determined that 5 people in our class had "accidentally" committed plagiarism. I am extremely careful to not accidentally plagiarize. I take notes in my own words so that I will not accidentally cut and paste someone else's words, and I input citations for like, every other sentence.

He showed us how the software works, by comparing your text to text on the Internet and marking redundancies. This is why I have not self-published any of my research thus far, because I don't want to confuse the software and be accused of plagiarizing my own work. After he showed us that the software looks at strings of text as short as 3 words, therefore making phrases like "the State of California" redundant, I started to get paranoid. I mean, my research is on a medical subject, so it's full of long medical terms that I can not paraphrase. Plus, he told us that it only excludes text in quotation marks, but if you paraphrase something and cite it in parentheses, it still comes up as a "match" and it's up to the professor to determine if it's legit or not. Then, when he told us that if a paper comes up as 20% redundant, he won't even read it, I really started freaking out.

When he went to pass back our grades, he said we'd either be handed a grade sheet or a printout of redundancies alleging plagiarism. I was so freaking out that I thought if he accused me of plagiarism that if I didn't die of shame on the spot that I would go home and kill myself and then drop out of the MPA program and never return to CSUN again.

Instead, I got an A, with the word "excellent!" and no edits at all. My only regret now is that my grade sheet didn't have a smiley face on it and 2 of my friends had smiley faces on theirs. I went home and told Mike and he said he didn't know that smiley faces were still used at the graduate level. I explained that it's actually quite common and that you never outgrow smiley faces.


Anonymous said...

Good for you!

Kellie said...

Oh shoot - that was me that made the first comment, not "anonymous". Typing too fast.


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