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Subject:

Re: translation services

From:

George MacDonald Ross <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Plagiarism <[log in to unmask]>, George MacDonald Ross <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 29 Mar 2005 15:06:09 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (89 lines)

Phil,

There are a number of separate issues here.

1. If a student writes an essay in their native language and then has it
translated into English, this is clearly a form of cheating, because
possession of a UK degree normally implies a high level of written
English (or, in a few cases, Welsh). University regulations usually make
it explicit that English is the language of assessment, except when
students are writing in the object language for language degrees. I'm
not happy about describing this as plagiarism, although technically it
could be if plagiarism is defined as passing someone else's work off as
your own.

2. Getting help is a rather different matter, since it's generally a
good thing if students help each other (and impossible to police if
they're told not to). I always tell my (philosophy) students with poor
English to ask a friend for help, because they're not being assessed on
their English, and they might learn to write better with help. Most
overseas students I've taught have had better English than the weakest
home students.

However I would accept that (2) is near the edge of a slippery slope.
I'd be much less happy about a student paying a professional to correct
a draft for them, since it can't be justified as teamwork, or part of
the learning process. It's getting much closer to Elizabeth Hall
Associates. Interestingly the other day I saw a notice in the School of
Theology and Religious Studies advertising just such a correction
service - presumably with the consent of the administration.

Obviously (2) doesn't apply where writing good English (or any other
language) is an essential objective of the degree programme - for
example, creative writing, or modern languages.  I don't know what
colleagues in modern languages do to ensure that a submitted essay
written in, say, French hasn't had its grammar improved by a friend.

Hope this helps,

George.

**************************************************
George MacDonald Ross
Director
Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies
The Higher Education Academy
School of Philosophy, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
+44-(0)113-343-3283
[log in to unmask]
http://prs.heacademy.ac.uk


-----Original Message-----
From: Plagiarism [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Phil
Baty
Sent: 29 March 2005 14:15
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: translation services


Has anyone heard of, or experienced, cases where overseas students with
poor English language skills use professional translation services, or
native English-speaking friends/peers, to help them write essays and
dissertations?

If so I'd really welcome your comments for an article I'm working on --
on or off list. ASAP please.

Also, is this something that should be treated as plagiarism? If the
language of instruction is English, and the degree itself is a British
qualification, then using a translator could be considered not to be all
the students' own work?

Phil Baty
The Times Higher Education Supplement.
[log in to unmask]

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