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Asked to re-edit text for would-be plagiarist
Thread poster: Jack Doughty

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:27
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Jul 27, 2011

I was asked today to proofread and re-edit a text from a website. I didn't want the job, but I looked at the text and it seemed perfect. I emailed back refusing it, but telling them it was so good that I would have thought it was written by a native speaker. I was then told that it was written by a native speaker. The object of the exercise was to produce a text saying the same thing but worded differently, so that the client could use it without it appearing to have been lifted from the website. If I hadn't already refused the job, I would have done so at that point. Does anyone else have experience of such job offers?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:27
Member (2007)
English
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Not unheard of Jul 27, 2011

It stinks, Jack, doesn't it? But it isn't the only one. There was a thread here a short while ago concerning the rewriting of academic texts. It was from someone whose website offers to write (note it doesn't say "rewrite") theses etc.

Seems like there are fewer every year who have the intellect to construct their own texts.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:27
German to English
+ ...
Highly unethical Jul 28, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Seems like there are fewer every year who have the intellect to construct their own texts.


I think it is just plain laziness rather than lack of intellect, or perhaps it's both. Seems to me that more and more people want something for nothing, or at least for no effort. But I could be wrong, of course. Maybe it always has been that way but the internet makes it easier to cheat on a larger, broader scale.

A highly unethical business to plagiarize academic texts and "re-write" them. I hope it is criminalized at some point if it isn't already, as it really is theft of intellectual property.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 17:27
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Once Jul 28, 2011

I received such an offer once, but it was for a gaming site.

Seems those German ministers and MEPs who had to resign because of plagiarism hadn't heard of this possibility?

In fact most of the text in dissertations is re-written. But when you do it yourself, at least you show you have understood what you wrote.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 16:27
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Not so sure Jul 28, 2011

Woodstock wrote:
Maybe it always has been that way but the internet makes it easier to cheat on a larger, broader scale.


Copying has always been pretty easy, but the internet made it very easy to catch plagiarists. My theory is that plagiarism was even more widespread before the internet, only people got away with it.


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:27
German to English
+ ...
Abundance of information Jul 28, 2011

The sheer volume of information on the Internet seems to have blinded many people to the fact that someone had to write the material in the first place, and should be acknowledged for having done so.

When these things are brought to the attention of the agency for whom one does translations, uploading translator's notes can have embarrassing consequences:

"[1] Translator's Note: According to
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochbau#cite_note-0 , the German source text has an unreferenced quotation from this source: Dietmar Grütze: Bau-Lexikon. Carl Hanser Verlag, München 2007, ISBN 3-446-40472-4, S. 126."
http://www.behringenieure.de/en/industries/building-construction.html

Oh well, at least since January 2011, they have deleted the sentence in my note (addressed to the agency!) which read, "Perhaps the client would like to rectify this anomaly", or some such. And at least the German (ST) is now referenced properly. I believe the company in question may well have been unaware of the above, given that the definition referred to may well have passed into common engineering parlance, so I am not pointing fingers at anyone, except the agency for lack of thoroughness.

In this case, it was just one (unusual) word which alerted me to the unreferenced quotation. I wonder how many I missed?

It also makes me wonder how people think by changing one or two things in a text that they are going to fool their readership. Especially when their readership often begins with people (translators, editors, proofreaders) who have an eye for how words are strung together.
Google enables anyone to find the original source, if determined.

Plagiarism is plagiarism, and you are right, Sheila. It stinks.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Job seen today Jul 28, 2011

This is one of the many repeat requests one company is making - perhaps there aren't too many takers!

• Excellent command of written English, in native level,
• Bachelor’s degree, preferably in business administration or economics,
• Experience at rewriting advanced level of academic texts,
• Ability to rewrite/paraphrase at least 1000 words a day,
• Willing to work in flexible hours.

As Wodstock says, it's probably laziness that mainly prompts people to plagiarise for their own theses etc, but being paid to plagiarise or paying someone else to do it are both way outside ethical business practices.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Concentration of knowledge Jul 28, 2011

What I find particularly scary is the fact that human knowledge seems to be concentrating in fewer, more scattered people than in the past.

Availability of knowledge and information has rocketed since Internet became widespread, but... what is the actual source of the information? Is available information really complete? How much human knowledge remains hidden away to protect it from being reused/transformed/replicated in the way suggested by the original poster?

If Wikipedia said that Einstein loved dachshunds, do I have the means and the time to do my own research on the matter? I will have to assume that the information is credible, and it would take quite some effort to prove it wrong. But maybe one or two people in the world who are passionate scholars in all things Einstein and who like long dogs decide to spend months of work in libraries checking pictures, veterinary records, and diaries from Einstein's acquaintances, etc. etc.

Knowledge is both scattered and concentrated. Each person in a large group of people is an expert in a tiny fragment of human knowledge, and the rest of mankind is credulous. To me, this is a Fahrenheit 451 situation: when the person who knows about Einstein's love for dachshunds passes away or is no longer capable of paying the cable bill, chances are that this information will quickly fall to the background, if not disappear completely.

Yes, I stop it here. Sorry if this was slightly off-topic!


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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:27
German to English
+ ...
Only very slightly off-topic Jul 28, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Knowledge is both scattered and concentrated. Each person in a large group of people is an expert in a tiny fragment of human knowledge, and the rest of mankind is credulous. To me, this is a Fahrenheit 451 situation: when the person who knows about Einstein's love for dachshunds passes away or is no longer capable of paying the cable bill, chances are that this information will quickly fall to the background, if not disappear completely.

Yes, I stop it here. Sorry if this was slightly off-topic!


You make an important point. Availability of generally sound information and knowledge. I did a school project when I was 12 in 1976. The subject was "Denmark". I remember reading the encyclopaedias and books at home, and different ones a friend's house. I remember wading through old magazines looking for pictures to cut and paste. I remember hand-drawing a map, copied from an Atlas. I remember not having enough information to fill out a whole project. The project itself was not scintillating, but at least I went through the process of research myself, and it was my own creation.

Today, I typed "Denmark" into Google search, and got more information on Wikipedia than even my adult information-gobbling brain could cope with. I am sure the average 12 year-old today is very tempted to copy and paste for school assignments, and just change a word here and there, and not cite sources, thereby bypassing the brain and ethical principles in spectacular fashion. Where does a teacher check facts these days? In the library? Ha! Internet, more like, I would guess that when today's 12 year-olds reach the heights of academia they may well pay someone to "edit" someone else's work on their behalf, thus reinforcing their well-practised bypassing skills learned early on.

I'll stop now before going off-topic!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Very good point Jul 28, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

What I find particularly scary is the fact that human knowledge seems to be concentrating in fewer, more scattered people than in the past.

Availability of knowledge and information has rocketed since Internet became widespread, but... what is the actual source of the information? Is available information really complete? How much human knowledge remains hidden away to protect it from being reused/transformed/replicated in the way suggested by the original poster?
Sorry if this was slightly off-topic!


Maybe slightly adrift of the subject, but food for thought nevertheless.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unavoidable Jul 28, 2011

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
In fact most of the text in dissertations is re-written.


I'd go further and say that much of the text in many academic papers is lifted from other authors. This is normal in academic writing to a certain extent, but the fact that there are agencies out there actively advertising outsourcing of plagiarization services illustrates the extent. A crib too far...


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:27
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
point to consider Jul 28, 2011

I have a client that frequently asks me to rewrite texts. They own a bunch of sites that all say basically the same things about their products but they want the sites to seem unique and different from each other. I don't particularly enjoy doing it, but I don't see anything wrong with it (although I'm sure Google would disagree).

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imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:27
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes Jul 29, 2011

neilmac wrote:

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
In fact most of the text in dissertations is re-written.


I'd go further and say that much of the text in many academic papers is lifted from other authors. This is normal in academic writing to a certain extent, but the fact that there are agencies out there actively advertising outsourcing of plagiarization services illustrates the extent. A crib too far...


There are many advertisementsand offers in nonserious sites, asking people that can prepare rewritten articles for publishing. And they offer a ridiculous payment for that plagiarism.

Disgusting,


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:27
Member
French to English
+ ...
Just received a job offer of this kind, for the first time Jul 29, 2011

I saw this thread yesterday but had never received a job offer of this kind... until today. The agency that contacted me stated up front that the English text (a list of metal products) had come from a website. Even leaving aside the possible ethical considerations, it's just not the kind of activity I can be bothered with.

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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:27
English to Croatian
+ ...
Bibliography? Jul 29, 2011

neilmac wrote:

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
In fact most of the text in dissertations is re-written.


I'd go further and say that much of the text in many academic papers is lifted from other authors. This is normal in academic writing to a certain extent, but the fact that there are agencies out there actively advertising outsourcing of plagiarization services illustrates the extent. A crib too far...


True, but in academic papers it is obligatory to neatly list the sources from which the content has been taken or by which it has been inspired ( publishing date, author, title). The plagiarists don't do this, they just gank material away and pretend it's their own work ( a huge difference).

By the way, in academic papers you don't really rewrite large portions of text, it's not allowed, only relevant small passages or sentences. Never mind whether you use citation ( literal sentence) or rewrite it, you name the relevant source in the reference list, in your paper.


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