I have been shamefully neglectful of this blog of late, but I do still keep an eye on the hit counts and other statistics for it. Not long ago, I was reviewing the specific lines of search text that led visitors to the blog…and I noticed a peculiar pattern. Instead of the usual queries with the name of a book or author, I came upon several queries that searched for phrases and even entire sentences from one or two of my reviews. The searched-for sentences had no strong relation to the book in question — they didn’t include a title or author, certainly — but they were word for word from my reviews. And most of these queries came within the span of a week or two.
How strange, I thought.
And then I thought a little more.
Are students plagiarising my book reviews in their final papers, and then being caught by their professors or teachers who track them down by Googling or using other search engines to locate suspicious strings of text from said papers and finding my blog and its book reviews in the search results?
If this is indeed the case, I have only two things to say:
(1) Students: The full citation information for my blog is here. Please do use it, along with quotation marks as appropriate, especially if you intend to pull certain uncommon turns of phrase or other text directly from my blog and insert it into the text. Your instructors are not stupid: if you know how to use search engines to find my blog, they almost certainly know how to use search engines to find out the source of your copied text.
(2) Teachers and professors: If you come upon my blog in your searching and discover your students plagiarising my book reviews, you have my full blessing to give them a zero for the paper or fail them from the course, or whatever punitive actions your administration permits.
This has happened for two academic semesters running; I will be very interested to see if it continues for a third. And to be truthful, I’m not actually angry. If anything, I’m rather proud to have been plagiarised — as long as the plagiarists are caught and punished appropriately.