Saturday, 22 August 2009

Waterstones Endorses Plagiarism

On Twitter yesterday, Waterstones held a quick contest: whoever 'tweets' the best piece of student advice gets five free books.

This blog post is not a bitter retaliation because they didn't choose my pieces of advice, but because the piece of advice that they actually chose was, in my opinion, very bad advice, and if students followed it, they could end up in a lot of trouble.

I'm fairly sure that Waterstones didn't realise this, but I messaged them several times and they have ignored me.

The tweet they chose as the best piece of student advice was from a university drop-out and read:

"My moto (chant this!): Copy and paste and you'll be caught out, but paraphrase and you'll get straight A's!!!"

(Here's another few pieces of advice: don't use multiple exclamations marks, and learn to spell 'motto'.)

My problem with this piece of advice is simple: it is teaching students the best way to PLAGIARISE.

I have been taught, right from school through to university, that if you quote OR paraphrase another person's words, you MUST cite the source. Regardless whether you are quoting or paraphrasing, you are still taking someone else's words and ideas, and they should be credited for them.

I am hoping that Waterstones did not intend to teach students how to plagiarise, but I think they really should know better. And rewarding someone for suggesting this piece of 'advice' with free books is a bit unfair when lots of people suggested much better pieces of advice.

Here are some good ones:

@jetowey - Get a bottle of antiseptic gel - not everything is as clean as it looks in the common room or bar

@lesleyparsons - The Three S's of student years... sleep, study, celebrate!

@Gem_Lou - Do your share of chores in halls - you'll be unpopular otherwise, & it might encourage others to do the same!

@Gem_Lou - Put bag with everything you need for lecture next day, sunglasses, paracetamol and water by your bed before night out!

@Jobelfield - Make friends, play hard, work harder!


  1. I'm guessing they chose blindly and it was just a promotion for the store.

  2. Wow. Even if they chose blindly, someone needed to open their eyes before giving that the green light.

  3. To copy - sorry, quote - Tom Lehrer:

    Let no one else's work evade your eyes
    Remember why the good Lord made your eyes
    So don't shade your eyes
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize
    Only be sure always to call it please "research".

  4. Yeah, it's a little irresponsible to say the least. For God's sake, pick someone who can spell if nothin' else!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...