122 Students Investigated for Plagiarism

Eric Swensen in today’s Progress reports that UVa professor Louis Bloomfield has referred 122 students to UVa’s Honor Committee on charges of plagiarism and multiple submission. Bloomfield caught the students by using software that analyzed every paper submitted and compares it to other papers. All the students were in his popular How Things Work course.

6 thoughts on “122 Students Investigated for Plagiarism”

  1. I know that we’re not supposed to talk about it, but similar software found that the majority of Dr. Martin Luther King’s doctoral thesis was blatant plagerism. We’re talking entire paragraphs and sections, word for word. Details can be found here:


    You’ve got to wonder just how much of that sort of thing we’d find if we ran every politician and public figure’s writings and speeches through analytical software like that. I’m sure that there would be a lot of nasty surprises.

  2. I read about this some months ago, and I was troubled by it — I had no way of determining if this was just racist propaganda, or if this had really occurred.

    When I found this paper by the director of the King Papers Project, then I knew that this was for real. I recommend reading it if you’re at all interested in the topic.


  3. …which is precisely why such a large number of students think it’s acceptable to cheat. I took this class myself, and I remember the indignation felt by some of my fellow students when they learned of the various essays and papers they would need to write for “How Things Work.” The whole idea of taking a gut is to avoid work! :)

  4. Something that has rarely come up in the discussions of this shocking discovery of plagiarism is this: why on earth does this professor give writing assignments that are so frickin’ easy to plagiarize? If you give the same assignment, or the same kind of assignment, year after year, and if you do not build any little “honesty checks” into the writing process (like turn in your thesis statement by this date, turn in the names of three resources you’re goign to use by this date, turn in your outline by this date, etc.)–in other words, if you just say “write formulaic paper on a trite and well-worn topic and hand it in at the end of the year,” then you’ll get plagiarism.

  5. just a thought, understanding that i know very little of the university and the way it works – but why is it that 122 students cheating is the teachers fault? your trying to move the attention away from the simple facts and thats wrong, in my opinion.

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