edit: Here's the story
You mean those "ridiculous" kind of laws where peoples privacy is protected against media-exploitation during that equally ridiculous "presumption of innocence" bit that is part of due process?
Those silly Swiss, not to allow mere allegations to destroy peoples lives. Way better to humiliate people by parading them in front of the world press, and make sure their careers are destroyed without having to bother with silly stuff like facts and evidence, the way they do things in the US.
Grandparent needs to read more.
That's one hell of a punchline. Is that serious, or is that just a grim joke? Because sadly it's right smack in the middle of Poe's Law territory.
The Ph.D. student at the time left research after receiving his degree and now works as an analyst for an international bank.
The Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reports that the doctoral student has left chemical research to become a financial analyst with the bank UBS. C&EN was unable to reach the former student at press time.
That makes absolutely sense.
> this person's lab notebooks have turned up missing, and are the only primary sources for the whole affair that can't be found
Not to condone what he did, but this is one of the reasons I don't keep any physical lab notebooks (scan, encrypt, and shred). Don't want people accessing/confiscating them without my consent.
1. The C&D letter came from "a faculty member at another institution." It could have come from me, or from a guy at the coffee shop down the block. A letter from a faculty member at another institution has about as much weight--considering that he has no claim in the supposed privacy of the material--as the paper it's printed on. NYU should grow a backbone and tell him to pound sand. If that's all it takes for them to turn tail, I wouldn't take their policies on academic freedom very seriously.
2. I'm guessing that the ever-so-helpful faculty member from another institution sent some sort of warning regarding FERPA, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which generally governs how academic institutions must handle student records. This act has been interpreted in such odd ways that there was a Supreme Court case over whether allowing students in elementary school to grade each other's homework was a violation of federal law (Owasso v. Falvo).
My understanding is that FERPA generally applies only to student records with some sort of personally identifiable information on them (i.e., posting grades with ID numbers, publishing contact info on the internet without permission, etc.). If I couldn't possibly identify the student from the portion of the email quoted, it's hard to understand how FERPA could rationally apply. If it were applicable, then any single quotation of any size from any communication with a student would be potentially banned from being repeated. Otherwse, it would be a violation of federal law for a professor to post a sentence of the sort: "A student asked me a very intriguing question today, which went as follows..."
3. If NYU or the professor just don't want the hassle of being at the center of a public debate, then fine. They are free to say or to not say whatever they like. But to scurry away from a debate and blame it on some imagined violation of a student "right" (see Gonzaga v. Doe for how far that "right" goes) is just silly.
I'm glad I never stayed in academia.
I ask because these university's are effectively giving these student's papers to TurnItIn to use and make a profit on however they please. The students have no say in the matter, and that doesn't seem to be very protective of their privacy.
1. Turnitin cites fair use ("it's educational"), but one of the metrics of fair use is the extent of use (they use the whole thing), if it's used for profit (they are), and the affect of merchantability. As shady as it sounds, paper mills are not illegal, copyright infringement is. If a paper mill rejects your paper because it's been through turnitin, that hurts me as an author.
2. Another aspect of the monetization that really grinds my gears is that every paper I am forced to submit benefits turnitin by making their database larger and thus helping grant them a monopoly in this market. I am being forced to write articles for the monetary benefit of a company. If they're making money off my paper I want a cut.
3. Turnitin does not offer any way to remove one's documents from their database. If it was merely being used temporarily to compare for plagiarism against internet or book sources then that'd be reasonable. But they keep my papers forever and will continue to monetize them for years after the fact.
I understand the plight of educators that want to stop plagiarism, but forcing me to irrevocably offer royalty-free licenses for my work to a for-profit company that is then charging the school (which if it is public is being funded by my tax dollars) is just insane any way you slice it.
Unfortunately the courts sided with Turnitin on this issue back in 2007 and 2009 and somehow ruled that their for-profit use was fair use.
They don't make any money by distributing your work. Nor does the quality of your work in any way affect how they make money off of it. I can't know if this is technically a violation of copyright, but -- it doesn't seem like it is against the spirit of copyright. Anymore than the requirement that you give a copy to your professor to grade.
I could be misunderstanding the situation, but from your own post you are granting no such license -- they are legally allowed to archive these. Copyright applies when you make and distribute a copy of the work, and they aren't (that I know of) doing any such thing.
(Disclaimer: I don't know anything about turnitin, so I'm not defending them in particular -- just responding to the objections of their model raised by OP.)
Yeah, that's the dirty trick. Turnitin hides behind the fact that your professors are the ones that force you to use it, and to use Turnitin you have to register and agree to their terms, which includes letting them use and keep your stuff.
So in reality half the battle is trying to persuade you professor to respect your copyright. I don't mind granting my professor a temporary license to evaluate my work, but I don't wish to give him permission to turn around and give a copy to someone else.
In the court case surrounding this issue the judge basically ruled along the lines of "minors in school don't have rights anyway so this is a moot point", but in university this probably a more legally viable issue.
That's a weird thing to say, and I'm not sure you understand when a license is and is not needed.
If you write an essay and hand me a physical copy, I can then do whatever I want with that copy. I can read it, I can shred it, I can put it in a filing cabinet to gather dust for 20 years. I can even give, sell, or lend it to a friend! I can do all this without needing any special license, because I own the copy you have given me.
What copyright prevents is me photocopying, scanning, or even laboriously hand copying it, and then passing those copies to other people. But while you own the IP, I own the physical copy.
With digital works, the rules are a little different -- if you e-mail me a PDF, sending it to someone else would count as creating a copy, and I'd need your license to do so. But the essential fact is I don't need a special license to hold on to a copy of it. And if you give me permission to send it to someone else, once they have it they can hang onto it as well.
 Universities will of course have policies on how faculty handle student work, but that's an orthogonal issue to that of copyright.
If I'm discussing what actions are, by default, allowed -- well, it isn't very useful to tag a clause onto every statement saying "Unless a legal contract/agreement prevents you from doing otherwise."
That's taken as understood, and only worth mentioning if it is a right or freedom you can't sign away.
No such license is needed. With enrollment in an educational facility, you sign over all rights on required course work to said facility. It's not your work, as little as work you do as an employee is your work: your employer owns all rights.
This is why in for instance The Netherlands, in every contract, an employer will by default demand all the rights related to work you do in your spare time, if it is related to your profession. And this makes complete sense: in the past, there have been problems with people that loved their job, did some work in the evenings for purely job-related stuff, became disgruntled later and successfully sued to the company for infringement.
The university has the right to ask you to submit your work however they want as a condition to course completion. If you don't want to submit your work to turnitin you don't have to complete the course. Nobody's forcing you to.
If the extent of your objection is that turnitin robs you of potential financial benefit of selling your work, then that's by design: that's exactly what the educational institution wants to do! It doesn't matter that selling your work to a paper mill is legal. It's against the interests of the institution, so they're not going to let you go through their programme and keep that right.
And what about a required course in high school?
Further, minors cannot enter into contracts. Would Turnitin's license agreement be a contract, and hence void since one of the parties was a minor?
I know of no university that explicitly prohibits students from selling papers to paper mills (although I haven't checked). Prohibiting students from using papers from paper mills is a different thing entirely.
Rather they'd say they want your paper so they can see your thoughts. That's fair because they could get the same effect from merely talking to you about your paper.
Or they'd say that its okay to use outside sources (such as your paper) so long as they cite it. This is also true in many cases.
In that case, you're not breaking any honor code although you're aiding others in being dishonorable to their own codes.
Thanks to a quick google, here's my old student handbook:
"Selling academic assignments. No person shall sell or offer for sale to any person enrolled at the University at Buffalo any academic assignment, or any inappropriate assistance in the preparation, research, or writing of any assignment, which the seller knows, or has reason to believe, is intended for submission in fulfillment of any course or academic program requirement."
It looks like my understanding of the honour code is therefore definitely false for my university, and, from the evidence, probably for many others. (This is particularly embarrassing because I was part of the group that approved the final version of the code!)
If the helper student has already passed the class, the professor can't take disciplinary action against them without making a major case about it. It's easy to simply fail the cheating student or give them a zero on the assignment without making a record.
Additionally, if it is brought to a committee, it'd be much harder to prove.
So although it's officially not allowed, there's not much universities are doing to combat the providers.
But I'll bet I could find a gaggle of lawyers willing to take you up on that.
If you think otherwise, lay out explicitly how you think the two cases are similar.
Err, unless you are Lady Gaga.
Besides, there's obviously a difference between receiving a random essay from a person who claims to own the rights (that's obviously in their TOS), and asking to download an MP3 of some band. In the latter case, the downloader obviously knows the copy is illegal and it can be argued that (s)he's abetting the infringer.
Turnitin has always been a concern of mine; not just the copyright/fair-use conundrum, but the privacy issues too.
4. Privacy. Submitting a paper to Turnitin makes the student's work vulnerable to a breach of Turnitin's servers. Data breaches have become so common that it is probably more accurate to say when Turnitin's servers are breached rather than if they are breached, the student's work could be made public contrary to their wishes.
I am grateful that my professors did not use Turnitin. Some at my school did, but I simply didn't take their classes. Had one of my professors announced they were using Turnitin, I would have dropped the class.
If you suspect me of cheating, talk to me. Put me to any test you like. Have me write my papers in front of you and defend them in an in-person interview. I don't care, just don't ask me to give my papers to Turnitin, because I won't. I don't like them, I don't agree with what they're doing, and I don't trust their ability to secure their servers. Further, I find the idea offensive that I need to prove my innocence when there is no evidence to indicate my guilt.
Still, it seems that I should amend my statement to "Universities often have..."
(Note that this is based on a very quick skimming, and IANAL.)
There was also a dubious clause in the T&C that stated something along the lines of "Copyright protection for Australian documents does not apply as TurnItIn stores all of the documents on servers in the U.S"
> Stern faculty members are obligated to support the University and Stern honor codes and are never sanctioned in any way for doing so.
Ha! Nothing wrong with that, except that I thought he meant "faculty members who are stern". Here's the interesting bit:
> Moreover, the course evaluation input of any student who has an honor code infraction is removed from consideration when evaluating teaching performance.
How in the world can you do that, when student evaluations are anonymous? (Maybe they've switched to online evaluations, which would allow this while preserving anonymity.)
I understand that those students simply don't get to fill in evaluations.
My guess is that this is bullshit. I work at an investment bank and I've never given anyone any official transcripts.
This would leave the professor free to teach and not have to a) spend time policing the student and b) be seen as the bad guy when students get caught and punished.
There should be an automatic filter, with manual review of violations, that all papers are submitted through. If it fails the filter, it's returned to the student, and the professor hasn't even seen it. The student can redo it, or protest the automated decision, and a human reviewer (an anonymous TA on-campuse) can consider the case (and see the offending text). The reviewer would then pass it on to the professor, who can grade it, or return it to the student to improve.
This removes the burden and the penalty from the professor, whose job isn't supposed to be policing plagiarism infractions.
Wait... is he actually admitting here that NYU wants the post removed because it reveals that >1/5 of its grads are cheaters?
Even if we pretend that one introductory class is a representative sample of the current enrolled student body you still can not jump from enrolled to graduated. It is entirely possible that a lot of the people who cheat in a 101 level class do not make it to graduation.
Please refrain from making silly posts in the future.
I really thought he would have made a compelling argument to resolve this, but it seems more like he's become so frustrated with cheating that he's resigned himself from that aspect of education.
With that said, I do disagree with the stance that universities take on cheating. The system of punishment is too focused on catching cheaters and punishing them so harshly as scare others to never consider it. I think this prevents many students from being more creative or exploring their own ideas based on previous work.
I believe cheating is not something a student commits because of inability, cheating is a crime of laziness. Therefore, rather than trying to catch cheating, schools should just making cheating pointless. Papers and assigments should be completely open and encourage students to look at any previous work and allow them to include it in their own work simply with a citation.
To add, professors seem to focused on their students finding credible sources to cite rather than allowing students to form their own ideas. Credible ideas can be founded from less credible sources and that is what should really matter.
Exactly. You're not just there to learn the course material. Maybe cheaters don't even know what they're doing is wrong, and by ignoring it you're doing them a disservice.
Regarding the "poisoned class environment" issue, it seems like there's a better way to go about it discretely.
1. Include your plagiarism policy clearly on the course syllabus. Be clear about what constitutes plagiarism, how they should cite passages taken from other material, etc.
2. Don't tell students you're using Turnitin, just have them submit papers electronically somehow and run the papers through Turnitin yourself.
3. The first time you catch someone plagiarizing give them a zero on the paper (depending on the severity) and tell them if it happens again they'll be kicked out of the class (or whatever your university's policy is)
That means that the teacher is spending hours and hours and hours on cheating...
All Post-Docs insisted on being called "Dr." rather than "Mr."and all tenured Profs on being called "Prof." rather than "Dr."
Non-tenured Assistant Profs had the worst choice get called Dr. and upset themselves or get called "Prof." and potentially upset the people who could grant them tenure :)
Guess which one they choose?
It's the same reasoning as why one wouldn't list a driving license as an accomplishment when one is a professional race car driver - 'of course' everybody who is somebody in racing has passed their driving exam a long time ago.
(the same comment was mentioned in the comments to the OP - I was quite surprised nobody mentioned my above reasoning, I thought it was common knowledge by now).
Chronicles of higher education might have a different publishing standard, but I'm not sure why they would.
This wikipedia entry seems to indicate that it is common to address someone of his stature as "Dr.", with the possible exception of perhaps in social settings where doing so might cause confusion (with MD).
You there, academic! Back into the closet!
Under the honor code, a student caught cheating would, at minimum, fail the course, and at maximum, be expelled.
At the other school (theoretically more prestigious), the typical sanction for cheating was to receive an "F" on the suspect assignment.
Not surprisingly, in my experience, cheating was far, far more common at the second university than at the first ...
I'd put this on with the sex class incident a few months ago at Northwestern as far as disappointing moves by institutions I'd like to respect.
Come on, could you really believe that this email contained a single element of truth?
Dude, I'm so sorry.
For future, I have two bits of advice.
#1 Don't bury the lead. Like myself, the geek news bit also didn't get the point of your post.
#2 Focus on the positive. Meaning that all negatives can be stated as a positive.
So, were I to have written your blog post, I would have lead with your "future" section (peer reviews, competitions, contemporary projects), enthused about all the positives, and underplayed (or flat out omitted) the back story, the bullshit plagiarism software, the complicity of the administration (shocker!), the cheating students, etc.
I definitely would not have responded directly to any personal criticism, especially not in public. That's always a trap.
In conclusion, I think you did the right thing, are on the right track, and got burned by being the internet's chew toy of the moment. Lesson learned, move on.
I will just give here the answer that I posted in another thread http://hackerne.ws/item?id=2797371
the post was supposed to be "a story with the twist." Had I known that I was going to have hundreds of thousands of people reading the post, I would have followed the standard journalistic practice of writing a summary at the very first section. (See http://t.co/2kJEkJW for a copy of the post. Note: I asked the post to be taken down until I repost the original article but the journalist is really playing childish games.)
I kind of felt this a few hours after the post went out, so I added two clarification points early on in the article:
1. I am not giving up the fight, I will just fight differently, please see the conclusions (link),
2. This was not about NYU and people cheating in business schools; people cheat everywhere: the story gives an explanation why they remain undetected.
Oh well, people could not even read these two points.
But I want to write stories in my blog, not papers with an abstract, executive summary and table of contents.
"Why I will never pursue cheating again" mirror:
""Why I will never pursue cheating again" word doc copy paste of content: