Saturday, February 17, 2007

Queen Coleen

I've read the Guardian, man and boy, for a very long time- but after reading today's issue, I'm seriously considering a change. The front page - the front page! - of today's issue is dominated by a photo of Coleen as Venus. The Weekend magazine's main feature is a further portfolio of her in the guise of the woman in various famous paintings. Even if Ms McLoughlin had achieved anything in her life other than being the girlfriend of Mr Potato Head, this still would represent an extravagant waste of the paper's resources, and constitute an insult to its readers, who buy the paper to be informed about national and world events, to read the reviews, to enjoy lively and well-written features by good writers. Instead, we get a huge publicity puff for a totally worthless book. She is, apparently, "an icon". God help us.

Friday, February 16, 2007

We don't ignore cheating

This annoyed me. I do wonder how you can possibly come up with a figure of 10% of all work being plagiarised if you then say that most of it is undetected. Of course, it's just "estimated" - but on what basis, we aren't told. What this means is - someone just made it up. Doubtless, though, since this is the BBC, the 10% figure will now get quoted as if it's a verifiable fact.
Well, here are some facts: I have yet to meet a colleague in HE who doesn't take the issue of plagiarism very seriously. I have never known of a colleague ignoring plagiarism. In every case of proven plagiarism I have come across, the student has been given an appropriate punishment, up to and including failure of the degree. Students are aware of plagiarism, and don't just copy things from a screen, unless they are very stupid, or very desperate, or both- and when they do, they are usually found out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Introducing the book

I loved this. I was reminded of an old cartoon, showing a monk slumped over a manuscript weeping. Two other monks are watching, and one says "I see the copier's broken down again!"

Hat tip: Bibliobibuli

Monday, February 12, 2007


The poo woman has finally had to concede defeat. Hurrah! This is all down to the efforts of the excellent Ben Goldacre and his Bad Science column.