Essay-marking, part 2

Posted by September Blue Thursday, 30 October 2008

Essay 11 - ARGH. I wish we had a whole separate grade category for essays like this one (garbled, repetitive, nonsensical, half the length it should be, etc etc etc). Since we do not, I will console myself with stories of people handing essays back In The Old Days with comments upon them like 'I am returning this perfectly good paper to you because some idiot has scrawled nonsense all over it'.

Essay 12 - This one won't get a much better grade than Essay 11, but I don't mind ones like this anywhere near so much - the student is clearly trying, just has real difficulties with basic writing skills. That can be worked on. (Preferably in primary school teachers why are you letting children get through the system without knowing what a comma is, but whatever.)

Essay 13 - Yay for student creative writing! (The essays I'm marking at the moment are a mixture of creative/analytic responses to texts, which is an... interesting idea.) And this one's very vivid and pretty creepy (deliberately so!), which is great fun to read even when the exposition is a little clunky.

Essay 14 - There had to be a plagiarist sooner or later. And to this one's credit, I got almost to the end of the essay before turning to Dr Google. (Oh, the shame - usually I'm much quicker off the mark than that.) It looks like it's about 70% plagiarised, with another short paragraph that I know has to be lifted from somewhere and can't find. Thanks to some judicious word-swapping and sentence-rearranging, Turnitin passed it through as fine.

Essay 15 - OH for heaven's sake TWO plagiarists in a ROW is just not FAIR. This one seemed a little bit less dire at the start, but by the final pages had degenerated into copy/paste/right-click-thesaurus to the point where the final sentences didn't even make any kind of sense.

Essay 16 - Written by the student themselves, o frabjous day! And this is an interesting one, because it's doing a lot of things right but has also headed off down the wrong road from the start, in the model Stanley Fish described re: hypothetical journal articles nobody would want to read as 'The Waste Land and Me'.

Essay 17 - I love this one.

Essay 18 - More creative writing! And very vivid, although possibly would have been better served had someone confiscated the author's thesaurus beforehand.

Essay 19 - Whoever is in charge of the language proficiency requirements for exchange students needs to be fired. This student is clearly trying very hard, but I can't at all follow what they're saying.

Essay 20 - MORE PLAGIARISM! Greeeeeeat. And the thing is, if I turned up my existing speech on secondary sources and referencing and plagiarism to make it sound even more scary, I'm fairly sure it wouldn't touch the ones who already think I won't spot it, and the overly nervous ones who are worried about accidental plagiarism would fret themselves into panic. Sigh.


  1. phd me Says:
  2. I love the comment referenced for Essay 11. Oh, how I wish I could get away with such snarkiness!

    And agreed, you can't scare the plagiarists off. They just don't think it applies to them. Have fun returning those essays!

  3. Yeah, I think the only way to reach a lot of the plagiarists is to prove that you can catch them. My department's policy is a 0 for the assignment plus a scary letter asking them to attend a formal meeting with me and the person currently in charge of undergrad affairs, which does usually terrify them into penitence.