Forensic Linguistics Institute


Founded 1994



Simple solution to internet plagiarism

As the academic season at many universities approaches the final assessments stage, Dr John Olsson of the Forensic Linguistics Institute says: "There's a simple solution to internet plagiarism".

"Make students produce their essays in their own handwriting. To prevent cheating, essays should be supported by notes, handwritten of course, showing what ideas the student started out with, how each reference in the bibliography was accessed, and the path the student took to gain insights into the topic as that topic grew and developed."

Dr Olsson says: "There's nothing wrong with a student using the internet as a research tool - it is great for that, but all written work should take place away from the computer. Some students go into a kind of cerebral somnolence when using computers, or hand-held devices, and cheating in many cases becomes more natural than creating".

"In this day and age we have come to mistake information for knowledge and we have also started to think of a computer as an extension of our brain. It is not, it is a dumb tool to which we have adapted too well".

"We are sleep-walking into future mental paralysis for the species because we are engaging our own intellectual capacities far too little, relying less on memory and more on ad hoc, superficial researches.

Hence, the message to the student essay writer is this:

"Get away from your computer, use pen and paper. Let your lecture notes be your primary source; from there compile your own notes; assemble those into bullet points and build your bibliography around each bullet point. Use the internet as a method of searching. Keep your quotes from other sources short and to the point: that way there is no need to copy and paste".