Tuesday, May 16, 2006


If you have received an e-mail recently from us, it probably means that your assignment was found to have an unacceptable amount of plagiarism. Now this is what we are doing to do this time, you are getting zero for that assignment, simply because I have warned you about it. Some of you have asked for remarks, the policy as clearly stated is first offence and a rewrite restricting to 50% and second offence it is zero. For some of you this is a second offence, but since we are nice (....really) we are prepared to play the following game, it’s called Cat 'n Mouse and here is how the game is played. You are the mouse (obviously) so we are equally obviously the cats. We are not Schrödinger's cat either (best look that one up since it will appear mysteriously in your test!), we are very real and very alive and we are on the hunt for plagiarism. Unfortunately you are not the cat blessed with nine lives, you only have seven lives*. What do I mean? You should have handed in 12 (twelve) answers, we will take the 10 (ten) best of these, so it means that you can still get out of this game somewhat un-harmed (suffering only a nervous twitch or two, but this should be temporary), but you have to be quick and re-edit your assignments so there is no plagiarism before we get to them.

In our game we are marking from questions one to twelve in that order, if we find that there is sufficient evidence of plagiarism then we will leave our claw mark as a comment attached to your assignment and an email will be sent to you informing of a zero mark and no further comments will be provided, you.. see we don’t really know who the author of the material is, Wikipedia or your?. Consequently the first two lives you loose can essentially be given back to you, after that you start losing the odd appendage like a tail or a leg. Of course if you loose all four legs and a tail you are sort of history, or a basket case (you will not have passed unless we gave you 10 out of 10 for all your other un-plagiarised answers, which is really rather unlikely).

You could have avoided all of this undue stress by observing our rules, properly quote, properly reference, and write in your own words and therefore be lying back with your Martini in your hand enjoying the sunshine, or possibly and more profitably go through the other chapters. For those of you not so diligent, you now have to learn to strategize your game and get to your plagiarised answers and correct them before we get to them to mark! This is a really neat game and I am sure that it will add interest to our predators Nick and Gwen. I am not sure how far into the hunt these two are, but usually the male hunter is very quick and the female hunter very very cunning and they each have six of your questions to sniff down any plagiarism. Unfortunately you have to contend with both, with one hunting you down in questions 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 and the other hunting through the remainder of the questions.

Just in case anything is unclear, it is best that you confirm that you know the rules of this particular game by adding your acceptance as a comment to this posting. Please ALSO note that we are expecting more than just rephrasing from Wikipedia and the notes and certainly three or so references which must be correctly cited with a working URL which will be tested. Please attempt to find non-Wikipedia references. Twenty percent of your marks will be allocated to referencing and marks will be debited if the referencing is incorrect or the links do not work.

Happy Hunting


Dr Richard Knight
Co-ordinator: National Information Society Learnerships - Ecological Informatics
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville 7535

Phone 27 + 21 + 959 3940
Fax 27 + 21 + 959 1237



*In English cat is said to have nine lives, but in other countries it has only seven lives, best live in the UK

Image Reference:

Cohen, M.E. Michael E. Cohen Cartoon Cavalcade [Internet]. 2006 May 10, 8:16 UTC [cited 2006 May 16]. Available from:

Some Reading:

Wikipedia contributors. Erwin Schrödinger [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 10, 10:16 UTC [cited 2006 May 16]. Available from:


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