LINGUIST List 6.1404

Thu Oct 12 1995

Disc: Self-censorship, Cheating

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <dseelyemunix.emich.edu>


Directory

  1. Christian Heyde Petersen, Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating
  2. Michael Covington, Re: 6.1391, Disc: Cheating
  3. Michael Covington, Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating
  4. Alex Francis, Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating
  5. "M. Lynne Murphy", Re: Self-Censorship on the LIST

Message 1: Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating

Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 09:10:52 Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating
From: Christian Heyde Petersen <chplanguage.ou.dk>
Subject: Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating

I agree that it is unfortunate when people use this or any other (academic)
list or disc.group to gain information which they where not supposed to get
from anywhere but rather to find out for themselves. However, I can't see
how we can stop this and IMHO our moral right to stop it is highly dubious.
The 'principle of least effort' seems valid in any context involving
exchange of ideas, i.e. students will use a library, the net, a snail-mail
address of a linguist, or an older student, who had a similar test last
year if they can. The only trouble is if they leave out/forget a reference
- that's cheating!

I don't think we should discourage people (students, laymen, etc.) from
asking questions on this list by acting as censors - we could miss out on
interesting questions and discs.

The simple solution is to refrain from answering questions which one thinks
might be from a student adhering too strongly to the principle of least
effort.

cheerio,
Christian


- ---------------------------------------------------------------------
 Christian Heyde Petersen Fax: (+45) 65 93 04 90
 Institute of or (+45) 65 93 24 83
Language and Communication
 Odense University Voice: (+45) 66 15 86 00 (x3205)
 5230 Odense
 Denmark E-mail: chplanguage.ou.dk
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Message 2: Re: 6.1391, Disc: Cheating

Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 09:18:01 Re: 6.1391, Disc: Cheating
From: Michael Covington <mcovingtai.uga.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1391, Disc: Cheating

The difference between research and cheating is simple: Cheating is
concealed, research is openly admitted. I tell my students very simply
that if they get help, they must acknowledge it when turning in the
assignment. Sometimes the nature of the assignment does not permit
obtaining help (e.g., a closed-book take-home test).

-
Michael A. Covington http://www.ai.uga.edu/faculty/covington/
Artificial Intelligence Center <><
The University of Georgia Unless specifically indicated, I am
Athens, GA 30602-7415 U.S.A. not speaking for the University.
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Message 3: Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating

Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 09:18:52 Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating
From: Michael Covington <mcovingtai.uga.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating

"Self-censorship" is an odd and frightening name for the practice of
using an electronic forum only for its intended purpose!

-
Michael A. Covington http://www.ai.uga.edu/faculty/covington/
Artificial Intelligence Center <><
The University of Georgia Unless specifically indicated, I am
Athens, GA 30602-7415 U.S.A. not speaking for the University.
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Message 4: Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating

Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 09:25:50 Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating
From: Alex Francis <afrancismidway.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1390, Disc: Self-Censorship on the LIST, Cheating


The fact that some students resort to the net as a way of cheating
on assignments is not unique to linguistics, or LINGUIST. Every
year around finals week certain newsgroups, especially thse that
deal with elementary computer science related fields, but also more
specialized fields such as signal processing, are filled with requests
like "how do I write [or even, can you write for me] a compiler/fast
fourier transform/variable band pass filter/etc."

These are obviously mostly students with final class projects due that
they are not able or willing to finish by themselves. However, the
net is in principle no different than the "real" world, and I think the
same sorts of rules hold in exactly the same manner. Asking someone
to do work for you is never acceptable, whether that person is your
next-door-neighbor in the dorm, or an expert total stranger half-way
around the world. In fact, students should be warned that is it probably
safer to sticking to asking people they know for help, since they have
no guarantee that the answers they receive over the net are accurate. I
know of at least one case in which it was debated whether to send a
particularly egregious and persistant requester erroneous information (we
ended up simply ignoring the fellow til he disappeared), to say nothing of
the dillettantes who pass themselves off as experts in a field and spew
rediculous statemens (cf. e.g. sci.lang). The net is not without its
own practical jokers and idiots, and it's hard to tell which is which
just from an email address.

Similarly, I don't totally agree with the apparent general sentiment
expressed so far that doing "research" by posting a request to LINGUIST
is just like going to the library. Although I have used LINGUIST to
gather information myself (and will continue to do so in the future as
the need arises), I don't think I would accept any "results" I got as
publishable (as I would citations from traditional sources found in
libraries) until I had verified them through traditional (citable)
sources. The fact is, results attained by querying LINGUIST are no more
verifiable than any other experiment or survey, and as such should be
held to the same standards of acceptability as any other such data.
(significance of the sample population, replicability of the survey, etc.)

[Of course, these concerns are only of importance when asking about data,
such as "How many languages are spoken in region X?" For personal-use
questions like "Where can I get a copy so-and-so's paper on Y" LINGUIST
seems so far to be extremely dependable, in my experience.]

When I find some piece of information in a published location (this
includes archived electronic forums and stable homepages) then any
reference I make to that information may be independently verified, at
least to the extent that someone else can find the same information in
the same place at any time. If I refer to a bunch of personal email
responses I got to a request posted to such a forum, no one can verify
the truth of my report of that information except me. At the very best,
such correspondences may be cited as what they are: personal communication.

I realize that fields differ on the standards to which they hold citations
(many fields do not accept references to unpublished work, even if it is
a well-known manuscript by (a) well-respected author(s)). However, the fact
is that traditional sources of information (books, articles, actual research,
personal communication) have clearly defined standards of acceptability,
and electronic communications should be treated more like spoken
communications, and less like written, if only because they are similarly
transient, local, and unverifiable.

-alex

Alexander L. Francis			afrancismidway.uchicago.edu
Department of Linguistics		(312) 667-5432 (home)
University of Chicago			(312) 702-0699 (Descision Research Lab)
1010 E. 59th St.			(312) 702-3281 (Speech Lab)
Chicago, IL 60637 http://www.ccp.uchicago.edu/staff/Alex_Francis
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Message 5: Re: Self-Censorship on the LIST

Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 19:55:23 Re: Self-Censorship on the LIST
From: "M. Lynne Murphy" <104LYNmuse.arts.wits.ac.za>
Subject: Re: Self-Censorship on the LIST

> From: JPKIRCHNERaol.com
> Subject: Re: 6.1373, Disc: Self-censorship on the list
>
> I agree that we should not make more work than necessary for the
LINGUIST
> staff. However, having made and answered some posts that might have seemed
> unnecessary with a library nearby, I think someone should devise clearer
> guidelines as to when one should exercise what Kingston calls
> "self-censorship".

i contacted the moderators last year about the issue of unresearched
calls for references. at their encouragement, i wrote a FAQ (which
i seem to no longer have), which i assumed was going to be sent in
response to reference questions. i don't know if this proved to be
feasible or not (moderators?), but certainly the problem has not gone
away. i think the list is wonderful for people who are looking for
obscure or too-recent-to-be-catalogued information. and, due to my
location, i'm very sympathetic to those whose library resources are
not all that great. however, it's often the case that people just
don't know what is available at their libraries and how to use it.

the FAQ i wrote suggested that any request for references be as
specific as possible, explaining why you are looking for that
information. it also suggested that the requester make clear what
part of the literature or what bibliographies they've already
consulted. adherence to these guidelines would ensure that
responders wouldn't be wasting their time in giving the requester
info that s/he doesn't need.

the FAQ also gave an annotated bibliography of bibliographic
resources in linguistics (LLBA, ERIC, etc.), to encourage footwork at
the library.

so, there is (or was) a mechanism for encouraging library work prior
to linguist queries, but i don't know whether the FAQ is used.

perhaps the moderators can comment?

lynne murphy

- -------------------------------------------------------------------
M. Lynne Murphy 104lynmuse.arts.wits.ac.za
Department of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340
University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-4199
Johannesburg 2050
SOUTH AFRICA
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