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There were only a couple of times when I spotted plagiarism during teaching/marking stints, though no doubt there were others I missed. Both students had been apparently optimistic that so long as a source was listed in the bibliography, lifting from it would be given the benefit of the doubt; one even found an essay answering the very same question which a former student had put on his blog a few years before, and used it apparently without realising that that on its own would result in raised eyebrows. (Close scrutiny also revealed a sentence weakly adapted from the S.E.P.) The other plagiarist came up with prose which had apparently been stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster; even the very first sentence contained snippets directly lifted from a book which I had personally recommended to the group. I was not impressed; I was less impressed still when he tried it again the next term. He was called in for questioning by the Department, but I think he escaped the ultimate penalty.

I am not, then, a friend of plagiarists. All the same... - - [05/Dec/2012:12:33:34 +0000] "GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.1" 200 1153 "-" "Docoloc Crawler" - - [05/Dec/2012:12:33:34 +0000] "GET /phil/RFJSeddon__Fernando_Pessoa_As_Philosophers.pdf HTTP/1.1" 200 616318 "-" "Docoloc Crawler"

It checks robots.txt, at least, but there seems to be no available information on this robot and what it does with the items it crawls. Docoloc is apparently a German anti-plagiarism tool, so presumably it’s building a database of copies against which to check items for textual originality. I’m not sure the nobility of its calling makes me happy about having my data and bandwidth co-opted for its business purposes without explanation. This is something Turnitin definitely does better.

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