It started with a hunch. Panagiotis Ipeirotis, a computer science professor at New York University, had an occasional cheater in past classes, and he wanted to see just how many students weren't being entirely honest in their schoolwork. So this past fall, he used a plagiarism-detection service called Turnitin to test whether his undergraduates had plagiarized a spreadsheet assignment for a class at NYU's Stern School of Business. Ipeirotis says the service turned up rampant cheating, and he confronted the class about the results. By the end of the semester, 22 of out of the 108 students in the class admitted to using unattributed sources on assignments.
The story doesn't end there. Ipeirotis did what every angry person with Internet access does these days: he blogged, writing about how awkward the rest of the semester was and how he received his smallest pay increase ever due to the poor evaluations his students gave him. At least he had a raise--the rest of America is jealous. Soon Bloomberg Businessweek picked up the blog post, which has been taken down due to legal concerns over the case. The school itself remains hush-hush on what happened to the students and how much the professor got paid. And as far as we can tell, no student has spoken out. With nobody talking, it seem imprudent to rush to judgement. These students could be sneaky cheats and this is just another piece of evidence condemning today's awful, scum-of-the-earth youth--or the professor's unauditted cheat-detecting methods could be flawed in some way. At the very least, we know that the professor won't be trying this experiment again: "Was it worth it? Absolutely not. ... Not only [did] I paid a significant financial penalty for 'doing the right thing' (was I?) but I was also lectured by some senior professors that I 'should change slightly my assignments from year to year.' (Thanks for the suggestion, buddy, this is exactly how I detected the cheaters.)" (That's from Ipeirotis' original blog post, according to Business Insider.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.