Friday, May 07, 2010

On the Side of the Angels?

St. Michael the Archangel
Main Icon of Archangel Cathedral
Moscow Kremlin (ca. 1410s)
(Image from Wikipedia)

Teaching for many years in Korea, I've had to deal with the inevitable plagiarism by many of my students, though I have to admit that this sort of academic impropriety has dropped off a bit lately. However, it does still remain a problem that we instructors have to deal with, so every arrow in our quiver increases our likelihood of striking our target. I'm nevertheless unsure what to think about a recent 'helpful' comment from a certain "Anonymous" responding to a four-year-old post about plagiarism:
I guess using plagiarism detection software means trusting a service, because you should be very careful about giving out your work to someone else. I am a professor of English at the St. Michael's College and can share my experience of using an online plagiarism detection service. It is called I am using it for over 10 months. I have tried them in many ways. For example, I have scanned one document in Nov., let's say. Than I forget about it for a couple of months and scan that same document in March. It does not find any relativity to other documents, so I can be 100% sure these guys are not keeping the databases. Everybody heard of scandals with turnitin and I don't want my students to participate in someone else's database gathering.
This is in fact an advertisement for, which claims to be a business for detecting plariarism, offering its services to both professors and students . . . though the fact that a student might turn to such a service seems a bit suspicious to my mind. Might such a student be testing a plariarized paper to see if the plagiarism has been successfully hidden? Be that as it may, Anonymous can surely be no professor of English at 'the' St. Michael's College. I replied:
With all due respect, Anonymous, you don't sound like a professor of English, for your 'comment' is full of grammatical errors, and since I get a lot of advertisements posted in the comments section of my blog, I suspect that your 'comment' is just another ad.

But since I'm all for eliminating plagiarism, I'll let the ad stand this time.
Or so I said, but mostly, I'm letting the advertisement stand because I'm amused that someone who's obviously not even a native speaker of English and who lacks control over something as basic as the present perfect tense claims to be a professor of English at 'the' St. Michael's College.

And if Anonymous really is a professor of English, I'm even more amused . . . though also a little bit dismayed, given my own derailed career.

UPDATE: The "Professor at St. Michael's College" replies. Infer what you will.

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