Originality report

Currently attending an online course at the University of Maastricht. When I enrolled in the class, I got an email insisting on ethical principles and letting me know that plagiarism wasn’t tolerated and could result in my exclusion from the course. I wasn’t expecting this, although I fully agree with those principles. I don’t remember in my Uni years having received this kind of notice.

This Sunday, I submitted my first homework and it got immediately analyzed by an automatic plagiarism-prevention service, with a final score of 38%.

38% of the 3 pages document I submitted is similar to previously submitted work that the service knows about. The help page mentions that it checked against content found on the Internet, publications, scholar works and internal documents pertaining to the University.

And you bet one third of the submitted work is a straight copy. I did leave in the the questions that were part of the assignment and replied directly under each of them. Duh.

Another strange finding of the plagiarism service is this sequence of words: The average outcomes for the group that would have received the treatment(the words in bold were highlighted by the service). That phrase apparently exist in an internal document of the London School of Economics and Political Science. I suppose I could not have written something more consensual and unoriginal about the topic. But again, why do you want to flag this?

Funny anecdote though, while working on this assignment, there was a question with abbreviations and math symbols that made very little sense to me. There was some connection with the material of the course. But never the formula or the acronym had appeared like this in the lesson.

I gave it a try at putting those symbols and the parts of the formula I did not understand in a web search engine. I tried DuckDuckGo, Google and WolframAlpha. But none of them gave me a satisfying answer or even lead me on the path to find it.

Until I copy pasted the question into the most notorious plagiarism machines we have today: ChatGPT (to be precise, I used Google’s competing product, Bard). And to my surprise, Bard gave me a perfectly sound answer. At least, it gave me enough elements to put me on the path of learning more about these symbols and understand the formula.

This felt so strange to me. I’ve been trying these Ai tools for a while and never had any success with them until now. And at the same time, I felt I was using the one tool that the university did not want me to use at all.

As you guessed, I did not use any of the outputs from Bard in my work. Don’t want machine output to trigger another machine output. Bard only unlocked for me a piece of knowledge that the search engines couldn’t. After that, my own brain computed the unorginal and consensual answers.






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