Plagiarism on Final Examination Resulting Low Marks

Hi all,

I posted the same on whirlpool but had to post here to reach more audience. Apologise if it breaks any rules but might need a solution fast. Did search the forum but could not find a suitable solution so thought of posting my question.

My friend did her final examination last week at Top Education Institute, Hobart and she got just 10% as the final mark for a Business subject. The exam was conducted online and she was given two articles as examination material.

When inquired about the low marks, the lecturer replied because she got higher similarity on Turnitin, 70%. But it was because Turnitin analysed the Examination questions as well.

The question is, can you copy content from examination material and use it on your answers. Like statements? And should the lecturer just check for the content she has written? Realistically, I don’t think its plagiarism if anyone would be referring to their examinations materials for supporting their ideas.

She already emailed and was told her that Provost and the Dean have investigated this matter and they made this decision. Is there something she could do.

Link to the original Turnitin report.
It's a WeTransfer link, and free of viruses.
https://we.tl/t-5AsTwRjIqC

Thank you!

Comments

  • +40 votes

    Would quoting the examination material in the answers really give you 70% on Turnitin? You don't think your friend actually plagiarised?

  • +25 votes

    Did she use proper referencing?

  • She already emailed and was told her that Provost and the Dean have investigated this matter and they made this decision.

    +

    she got higher similarity on Turnitin, 70%

    = she probably did plagiarise 🤔

    • Yep, I've used turnitin as a teacher and the threshold for having some coincidental overlap in phrasing & structure is WAYYY below 70%.
      My advice to the "friend" would that if you're too stupid to do it yourself, don't be such a cheap arse when you pay someone to write your essays.

      • don't be such a cheap arse when you pay someone to write your essays

        This is good advice. I tried it once, paid someone from overseas to write a report for me for a geology assignment. The report was not terrible, but the report required us to write about the geological history of a place in Australia, the author wrote a report on a place from the US that had similar spelling.

        In the end was probably a good thing as I had to do the work myself but was able to use his report as a guide for the writing style. So it wasn't a complete loss, but ended up being more an example to follow rather than having my work completed for me.

  • No proper referencing since it was a three-hour exam with quite a few questions. So she did copy-pasted from examination materials (the articles that were given)
    Like
    As Acknoff explained the consequences of changing emphasis is that MIS from supplying relevant information to eliminate irrelevant information is considerable. I disagree with Acknoff ‘s argument most manager’s receive more data than they can possibly absorb.

    • As Acknoff explained the consequences of changing emphasis is that MIS from supplying relevant information to eliminate irrelevant information is considerable. I disagree with Acknoff ‘s argument most manager’s receive more data than they can possibly absorb.

      Pretty sure you'd lose marks on punctuation for this example

    • +20 votes

      To me that doesn't even look like referencing, that is just copy/paste and then disagreeing with it.

      I've been out of academia for a while, but even with referencing you will either reference quotes, or put in your own words…"I disagree with Acknoff when he said "……" " Copy and pasting sentences wouldn't cut it.

    • Unfortunately when you reuse someone else's writing like this, you are supposed to paraphrase instead of directly copying it.
      This is expected in academic writing, and so I think that the claim of plagiarism is probably (at least partially) correct here.

      Does she have the option to take a supplemental exam to make up for her low mark?

      • On a side note. If you're taught to paraphrase and not quote the whole source doesn't that lead to cherry picking and can potentially reinforce misinformation.

        • That’s why you reference and use in text citation. If the reader smells bullshit they can check, otherwise they’re gonna ask for sources to your claim.

    • Yep. There is no critical thinking here. Saying “I disagree” and literally copying and pasting everything else from the article is NOT academic writing.

      I don’t know how to say it any other way, but your friend cannot squirm out of this one.

      • It's literally exactly the problem most universities have with international students and plagiarism.

        Caught red handed. And good on the provost and Dean for not backing down on fraud.

        It's really not that hard, almost every uni has dedicated classes about plagiarism and how to avoid it, and many times TurnItIn allows you to test submit for scores.

        So stuff em. Their ideology is ruining the credibility of universities for everyone.

  • ^ That was just some highlighted, but she had written her own which were skipped by Turnitin.

  • The whole institution seems like a scam to me. Places like this are why the government thinks we have too many law and business graduates.

    • It's why every Indian dude working at a 7 Eleven or as an Uber driver has an MBA

      • +8 votes

        That's an awful generalisation. Apu from the Kwik-E-Mart earned his doctorate from Springfield Heights Institute of Technology in computer science.

      • as an IT teacher I had 3 young Pakistani guys turn up asking for exemption from my spreadsheet subject based on their 'Master of IT' degree from some upstairs university.

        so I started to ask them a basic question - 'how do you create a formula in Excel ?'

        the leader guy cried out anxiously 'Sorry Sir - we Never Touched a Computer !!!'

        oh - um - thank you for coming … goodbye … !

      • not far off! …and the last 3 melbourne uber drivers ive had said they had aus. MBA's !

        im studying post grad though one of the big business schools and had to ask the lecturer to stop issuing group assignments as im sick of rewriting everyone's work as it makes zero sense (99% Chinese international student).

        When asked what the the expectation around grammar, use of English, straight up copying texts to 'making any sense at all' was…. to his credit he said they know its an issue but the uni chooses to believe it isnt and wont fail anyone because they cant read it - they will just try and find 'inferred meaning' in what they can understand! WTF? … absolute craziness @ $60K a hit and just devalues it for everyone.

        • MBAs aren't worth the paper they are written on these days.

        • $60K a hit and just devalues it for everyone.

          It makes me so mad that tertiary education is now more about turning a profit that educating a generation.

          And honestly it could be any nationality of international students causing the problem but the Chinese are just the wealthiest and most prominent.

          I doubt the unis even give a shit where you're from as long as you pay full fee.

          We need to get the crap liberal party/neocon ideals away from education and adopt a proper European model of taxation = education.

  • +12 votes

    Request the TurnItIn report. Depending on how the assessment was performed, your "friend" likely received this during submission of the assessment.

    Even copying and pasting the assessment questions I can't see how it's possible to be 70% the same. Surely your friend's answers were longer than a paragraph each.

    Your friend better panic if they are doing a law course. These sort of things need to be disclosed when seeking admission.

    • If you're an assessor you can exclude the question and references from the turnitin algorithm. 70% is clear plagiarism.

    • Report now linked in OP. You're right that the friend copied way more than the assignment questions.

      • Haha, yep. That assignment is a shocker. They've regurgitated the source and provided no independent work or opinion to justify their answer. There's very little content. It would probably be a fail regardless.

  • When I submitted my uni essays via turnitin I included all references (Harvard referencing and URLs). It usually came back 5-15% due only to references and quotes.

    She would have had to had a substantial amount of other peoples words in order to get as high as 70%.
    Any chance you can get a copy of what she uploaded so we can have a look for ourselves?

  • She only did 30% of the exam so 10% is a fair grade

  • Plagiarism is the presentation of the work, idea or creation of another person as though it is your own. It is a
    form of cheating and is a very serious academic offence that may lead to expulsion from the Institute.
    Plagiarised material can be drawn from, and presented in, written, graphic and visual form, including electronic
    data, and oral presentations. Plagiarism occurs when the origin of the material used is not appropriately cited.

    From Top Education Institute's declaration form I found online https://library.top.edu.au/ArticleDocuments/486/Individual%2...,

    The question is, can you copy content from examination material and use it on your answers.

    No, but possibly yes depending on the institution's policy because it was timed exam. Really depends case by case.

    • That's exactly my question. You are using examination material to support your answer and in just in a 3-hour window. No internet sources!

      • As Acknoff explained the consequences of changing emphasis is that MIS from supplying relevant information to eliminate irrelevant information is considerable. I disagree with Acknoff ‘s argument most manager’s receive more data than they can possibly absorb.

        Your friend didnt really use the examination material to support her answer, she used it as her answer, word for word without any quotation marks.

        • Pretty much. A score of 70% above means that 70% isn't her work. The exam isn't looking to judge the material, it's looking for the student analysis. Even if they don't consider it plagiarism, it's not gradable work.

      • I had a look at the Turnitin report.

        If it was a 3 hour exam with no internet sources how on earth could there be multiple sections identical to internet sources (ie the talend.com and cluteinstitute.com) without some sort of breach of the examination rules/ conditions?

        Plus as others have said, citation is generally acceptable but much of the flagged material is not cited.

        Further even if citing the source it is not considered acceptable to copy the text word for word without using " " quotation marks, then citing.

        70% similarity to other work is going to be very very difficult to justify (even if you exclude the 33% flagged as submitted to Top education inst. 37% similarity to other sources is still too high)

        • If it was a 3 hour exam with no internet sources how on earth could there be multiple sections identical to internet sources (ie the talend.com and cluteinstitute.com) without some sort of breach of the examination rules/ conditions?

          The provided examination materials were from an existing article, so it may have existed in internet sources as well.

          37% similarity to other sources is still too high

          When the task is like fill in the box or short essay with huge amount of references, it can reach 40-50%.

  • Request the TurnItIn report. Depending on how the assessment was performed, your "friend" likely received this during submission of the assessment.

    I can't see how it's possible to be 70% the same, even copying and pasting the assessment questions. Surely your friend's answers were longer than a paragraph each.

    Your friend better panic if they are doing a law course. These sort of things need to be disclosed when seeking admission.

    • +4 votes

      Request the TurnItIn report. Depending on how the assessment was performed, your "friend" likely received this during submission of the assessment.

      I can't see how it's possible to be 70% the same, even copying and pasting the assessment questions. Surely your friend's answers were longer than a paragraph each.

      Your friend better panic if they are doing a law course. These sort of things need to be disclosed when seeking admission.

    • +13 votes

      Numerous authors (Zeggie, 2020; Baysew, 2020; mbck, 2020) assert it is hard to see how it is possible for the Turnitin score “to be 70% the same, even [after] copying and pasting the assessment questions”, and question whether “the answers were longer than a paragraph each”.

      It should be noted that academic dishonesty must be disclosed when seeking admission, and your friend ought to panic if they are completing a law degree.

  • OP, you'd naturally have a bias to supporting your friend, but have you seen what her answers were to state she wasn't plagiarising? At face value, it sounds like she copied and pasted the exam question as an answer, and then contributing 30% more text….

    I'm assuming you're only going off your friend's comments about what she believes she did, and reacting to her emotions on the matter.

  • I submitted papers to TurnItIn with plenty of in text references and never got more than 10% similarity. It sounds like 'your friend' whole copy pasted segments, and unless you actually saw what she submitted, it's probably what she did to get 70%

  • I was lucky enough to be finishing uni just as turnitin was becoming mainstream.

    The idea in theory was good but the execution was terrible. An example was Turnitin would check your submitted essay against the past 2 years (4 semesters) worth of essays on the same topic. The average class size was ~250 so that would total 1,000 essays on the same topic, paraphrasing/quoting the same papers, incidentally this resulted in a base plagiarism score of 30%+ (mine came in at 40% having never even seen another assignment). In many cases the uni would just slap you with a fail and hide behind the Turnitin score with no explanation. I'd hate to see the poor students turning in their essays today with 3,000 essays on the same topic in the system.

    Yes it is pretty hard to get 70% and i would say the OP's friend would have a bit of explaining - although directly quoted phrases are unfairly treated and they desperately need to sort that out.

    • Yeah I agree, I've hit 30% before but that was because Turn-it-in picked up stuff like the questions (obviously highlighted since everybody has the questions in their submission… 🤔) and some really odd bits like my student number, subject name, and other really random things. Then I had used a fair few quotes which flagged me, but apart from that my own writing sections being highlighted was very rare. Turn-it-in does have some issues…

      But I completely agree, there's no way you get 70% on Turn-it-in with just errors or quotes - it has to be her somehow. Or in your words, there's some explaining to be done.

  • Thank guys,
    I just thought of uploading the file so you might see what I am referring to
    It's a wetransfer link, and free of viruses

    https://we.tl/t-5AsTwRjIqC

    • This shows your friend is guilty of plagiarism, and contributed very little independent thought or analysis.

      You simply can't be awarded marks for essays which read like this:

      Authorx says "long extended quote which a monkey could copy paste without any understanding whatsoever". However, Authory disagrees, with the contention that "some other long and involved quote which may be relevant, or may be only vaguely linked to the original statement by the use of a series of similar keywords". The best resolution to this disagreement is proposed by Authorz, who explains "that the solution to writing essays is not to combine a series of long quotes using 3 or 4 words and the authors name, because that shows no understanding, and you can only be awarded marks for the understanding you demonstrate".

      Note that what your friend did was even worse than my example above, because they did not even provide the reference, or quotation marks, which makes the claim of plagiarism legitimate. But even if the did reference as I have above, she would still only get, and deserve, 10%.

    • Neither did your friend provide any references, nor did they indicate when they were quoting and what the source was.

      This is a prime example of plagiarism and there is no two ways about it.

      If this was unintentional, your friend will need to learn how to reference sources before submitting anything else or they will continue to plagiarise….

  • likely did a lot of copying and pasting,and not a lot of analysing.

    Can't copy 3/4ths of a page and do 1/4th analysis and expect a pass

  • I'm biased indeed :( But sad because Turnitin scanned the original coversheet, questions even.
    The copy-paste is just from the two journal articles she had to refer to.

    • shouldn't have copied the questions. But even so if thats turned off only 30% is for the question. The answers contain a lot go highlighted word for word copies as well. Thats not referencing or quoting the journals to use as a point for the answer, its just directly copied as if written. Turnitin also doesn't pick up on direct quotes if intent referencing is used as well but the whole paper doesn't show any direct quoting or use of the journals as supportive arguments its just using the journals word for word

    • I never had an issue with Turnitin. You are right that it picks up questions, cover pages etc but that is completely and instantly obvious for the assessor to see and to take into consideration.

      Your friends exam was assessed by several people, including the dean, and the verdict was she plagarised. End of story.

      You think the dean is that ignorant that they will fail a student because the coversheet and questions got flagged in Turnitin? If that's the case everyone who sat the exam would have failed.

  • Thank guys :) Really appreciate your help!
    I know I'm being biased and apologise for that, just trying to look out for a friend :)

    It's a shame if she had to repeat the same subject again paying $3500 but … yeah…

    Thanks again :)

  • I'm sorry but lol. Top Education Institute sounds made up.

    https://youtu.be/tbfbj6Y2Mss?t=105

  • I used to mark university examinations. I'd probably mark that exam somewhere between 10-20% at best, ignoring the obvious plagiarism. Your friend doesn't answer the questions being asked so her assessment reflects that.

    I suspect the lecturer deferred to turnitin's report of plagiarism as an easy way to avoid confrontation with the student. It's difficult telling students that their ability is poor.

    • +8 votes

      I agree with the turnitin grade as well as well as well as EyeRoll's reply.

      "And further, managers are not competent to do the needful." LOL

      • "Do the needful" is a very common phrase used by Indians. It sounds funny to us, but they probably think us saying "get shit done" sounds like we're talking about pooping.

        • +3 votes

          Yes, I've heard it many a time from HP/Aruba and Dell support. That being said, though - it was completely out of place in the OP's friend's answer sheet.

        • I actually quite like do the needful.

        • I haven't managed to access the file OP linked above, but did you guys see the phrase "According to me" there? If yes then that's definitely an Indian. lol I haven't seen anyone else saying that. I mean, it isn't wrong grammatically, but it's usually Indians who use that phrase instead of saying "In my opinion…" or "I believe that…" etc.

      • "the needful" = 100% sub-continental

    • Yes, I'm bored so just read it and your friend has not answered the questions and plagiarism issues aside, would not have otherwise passed.

      I'd suggest your friend doesn't understand the content, does not understand how to analyse, does not know how to prepare a report and has a poor ability to understand what is being asked.

      For question 4, your friend has written 5 lines. However, the first four lines are gibberish, and your friends answer to the question is, quite simply, Wall Street West's lack of success in building a client base is because it is "situated away from the centre of New York". Your friend gets 0/20 for that alone.

      The answer to question 3 also fails to address the question, and also, quite obviously, has copied and pasted sentences describing what Wall Street West is/does as opposed to conducting an evaluation of effectiveness. The entire first paragraph is literally just a copy/paste job describing Wall Street West. The second paragraph identifies "2 main initiatives" which are again copy and paste jobs and simply concludes they "are very effective". At not stage has any evaluation been conducted. Again, quite literally, 0/20

      For question 2, the first two paragraphs are again a copy and paste job describing what a data redundancy system is. It does not list or discuss the criteria necessary for a desirable system, nor does it relate in any way back to the referenced article. The 3rd paragraph, is incoherent, and although I have no idea about data redundancies, understand this to be mostly gibberish, made infinitely more difficult to understand by the horrible writing. At best, it identifies that a desirable system will provide a "conceptual view of the entire database" and should contain various data elements, field types etc. Maybe he/she scores a few points for that. The final sentence is irrelevant as no one asked for types of systems.

      As to question 1, god help me, I'd probably end up writing a 5 page essay. Needless to say, it very clearly demonstrates that your friend doesn't know wtf is going on.

      • Yep, took the time to read it over as well and agree with that analysis. I haven't marked essays at this level but have assessed plenty at the Cert IV level and the answers just don't address the questions sufficiently.

        OP - looking at the actual report I would ignore the 70% figure, however it shows that 47% is literal cut and paste from internet sources. Even without the highlighting its easy to spot them as the english is vastly improved and clearly not the authors work. You can even spot where the author has tried to tweak them a little as the added words usually don't fit. Some copy/paste from the source material can be ok, but not literally half of your answer.

        If your friend wants to keep appealing, the TOP FAQ's https://www.top.edu.au/about-us/faqs/academic-faqs say that they could fill out an academic appeal application form. Though it'd be a long shot.
        More realistically they should be looking to see if their course has a resit option and study their ass off with a tutor until that exam.

        • Hmm. Now we all know institutions need the money.

          But it is obvious that when students fail (or even just those that complain about their deservedly poor marks) can re-study or even just re-sit, there is no point awarding degrees.

          Doing so would undermine the very point of an institution, which is mostly to educate and assess performance. Far better to allow some streams double the time to complete their studies if they need more time to learn the material.

          Unless of course, they introduce a sub-degree class which is clearly marked as 'awarded after opportunities to review and restudy', or something similar.

          Though it might be more accurate to have a sub-class like 'awarded after opportunities to reverse engineer the exam and complaints processes, collect answers online, and spend longer tarting up pasted plagiarisms'

          • @resisting the urge: As long as the exam they re-edit is sufficiently different from the original that the student cannot Sony study the first exam and parrot the same answers for the second, I have no issue with resitting exams.

            If passing a course is a demonstration of competence, and the student did not have that competence at the first exam time, and then somehow managed to pull their finger out and become competent before the second exam 2 weeks later, then the fidelity of the degree as a demonstration of competence is intact.

            • @ozbjunkie: Except that if you have more time to do everything you fail at, before attaining a mark used to compare you to your peers, then you have more than just a competency.

              To achieve it took you more attempts and more time. Worse, every plagiarist is given more leeway, and thus more chances to improve the process of plagiary they use, before having to re-submit to succeed. Instead of a chance to reassess their unfair actions, and do the work properly.

              Worse than that,
              - they are condoning the works submitted
              - all the other plagiarists know they can push the envelope even further too
              - students who do not plagiarise or use advanced 'plagiary' tools, process automation, etc are effectively told they better start doing so to stay in the game, or maxmimise their investment in uni fees (whichever way they want to look at it!)
              - risking others will see this happening, and abandon their degree course in disgust

              Sure you can argue Unis need the money and that all students need an education, but these are just one of the many reasons why universities, students and organisations are having increasing amounts of trouble, and are being disrupted and threatened on many fronts by commercial education start-ups.

              However any educational institution that fails to teach students how to learn and succeed appropriately is not just acting unethically, and potentially corruptly (persuing funding and fees), it is threatening its brand, universities, and the basis of education.

              In accepting half a job from students (in assessment tasks, not just exams), they allow a glimpse of public insight into the half-job being done by our educational institutions, and worse, that systemic corruption is likely being tolerated by university management 'in the short-term, commerical interest of the institution.

              Perceptions are a problem, too, but new students keep pumping and propping them up with so much of their hard-earned

              • @resisting the urge: I work in this sector and there are a few things need to be cleared up here:

                • If you are offered a re-sit, you do not simply get the higher-grade should you improve. If, you pass you will get a 50 on your transcript and a "Passed Supplementary" recorded. If you fail the supplementary, the original mark is recorded on the transcript instead. It would be very transparent to anyone who takes the time to look at the transcript that the student had issues here.
                • The onus of "learning and succeeding" is on both the university AND the student. The adage, you can lead a horse to water comes to mind.
                • There is some perception that a uni will pass anyone given enough leniency and attempts. This is incorrect, as uni's can and will fail students who don't meet the standards. They also have strict rules as to how many repeats are allowed, and the conditions under which repeats are even offered (i.e. repeated plagiarism would NOT be treated kindly).
                • While money is obviously an interest for universities, reputations and standings are very highly valued as well. A university can only maintain it's image if it can produce highly qualified graduates, and thus it is not in their interest to simply be a degree-factory.
      • Yes, the student doesn't understand data redundancy - the question is asking about business continuity, where data redundancy is desirable to allow recovery, and the student mentioned the case of a customer being recorded in a system multiple times. Clearly a different (negative) meaning of data redundancy, unrelated to the question, but must have come up in Google search results.

        Edit: in fact, google "data redundancy" and the plagiarised parts are all there, including the rogue meaning from talend.com

      • +1 vote

        For question 2 […] The 3rd paragraph, is incoherent, and although I have no idea about data redundancies, understand this to be mostly gibberish

        I do understand data redundancy, databases, etc.

        "Mostly gibberish", in my opinion, is far too generous of a description.

        The final sentence is irrelevant as no one asked for types of systems.

        It's worse than that! They've mentioned three types of software design documentation, and somehow decided that these documents are types of data redundancy systems.

        It literally hurts my brain to try and comprehend this student's plagiarised word salad.

    • I suspect the lecturer deferred to turnitin's report of plagiarism as an easy way to avoid confrontation with the student.

      I doubt that very much. Where I teach, plagiarism, or any other academic misconduct, is a lot of extra work. It involves non-trivial amount of paperwork, committee meetings and the outcomes need to be recorded by the registrar on the students academic record. The purpose of all this is to get through to students that academic integrity is a non-negotiable requirement for obtaining their degree - irrespective of how much they paid in fees. Academic misconduct will result in students having to take extra compulsory classes with the academic support officer to learn about what they did wrong and how to rectify it. Plagiarism and collusion are very much cultural adjustment issues. With some students the penny drops when they get pulled up for academic misconduct the first time. Others are repeat offenders and just don't get the concept. Judging by the submitted sample and the reaction, this "friend" is very much in the second category. I expect that this is not the only time where (academic) misconduct will be an issue for this person.

      Accusation of plagiarism, if anything, escalates the confrontation with student from a mere, "poor work" to "poor work and you are a cheater". It is certainly not the easy way out.

      Given the shift in teaching strategies since the start of this year, academics need to be even more vigilant of these issues. The regulator has been running a lot of seminars on how to deal with the issues that this is presenting. I fully expect that TEQSA will do a fair bit of auditing and benchmarking to establish how institutions have responded. The last thing a tertiary institution would want is to have the regulator withdraw their accreditation because they decided that it was too hard to deal with plagiarism.

  • You cheated and got done, lol?

  • Is there something she could do?

    Yes. Her written English skills are poor. She should improve this. It takes effort to write well. Lecturers will mark favourably if they perceive effort has been taken, even if the answers are wrong.

    Secondly, she should reflect on why she didn't answer the questions asked. Does she get flustered by exams? Did she put enough work in during the semester?

  • +18 votes

    your friend might need to get some extra support, tutoring etc.

    for a 20 mark question asking for a detailed analysis, you would need to write more than 1 small paragraph.