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For many students, the Internet is an amazing resource for writing papers. All the information is right at your fingertips and can all be found so very quickly. The most difficult part of using the Internet for research is resisting the urge to use that beautiful phrase you just found verbatim. You have to carefully rework the sentence and put it in your own words to avoid being accused of plagiarism.

But what if your professor explicitly asks you to plagiarize a paper? What if they ask for at least 2,000 words of someone else’s work, word for word? Just such an assignment was given to a class in Osaka University’s Literature Department.

The act of copying another person’s work and presenting it is your own is a big deal not just in the publishing world but in the academic one too. People lose their jobs, get kicked out of university, even end up in court for copying others’ work.

Choosing a recent and noteworthy scandal, the false claims of Mamoru Samuragochi, as the overall topic, one university professor in Osaka devised a tantalizing assignment for his students: write an essay using only content lifted from other essays.

source 3Image: Flickr (Ektor)

The paper was split into two parts. The first was a report with the topic: “Thoughts on the events surrounding Mamoru Samuragochi”. This section was to be at least 2,000 words. Every one of those words, however, had to be taken from others’ work, and students were not allowed to insert any of their own thinking or comments whatsoever. The assignment was eerily similar to the case study the students were expected to write – or perhaps not write – about.

Even if you’re not familiar with Mamoru Samuragochi’s name, you may recall him as the celebrated composer who claimed to be deaf. First discovered in his hometown of Hiroshima, Samuragochi garnered fame for his musical talent despite his apparent disabilities, at one time even being referred to as the “digital-age Beethoven”. That is, of course, until it was discovered that not only was his disability greatly exaggerated, but that many of his works were ghostwritten by another composer, one Takashi Niigaki.

Shamed composer Mamoru Samuragochi

source 5Image: Amazon

You might think copying 2,000 words is the easiest paper to write in university, but students had to be careful to painstakingly source all the words. They also had to pull from at least 10 different sources. That sounds like a footnote and sourcing nightmare.

Three lines of actual text followed by a ridiculous amount of tiny words.

source 1Image: Flickr (Early Novels Database)

The second part of the assignment was to write 1,000 words about the previous 2,000 words they had just copied. These had to be totally original opinions. After copying so much of other people’s work, it might have been difficult to come up with a thousand of their own, but it probably gave the students a pretty unique perspective on the act of plagiarism.

These wacky papers are getting some positive reactions from Internet users who find the assignment very interesting but quite difficult. Let’s just hope the rest of the course is as inspired as this assignment. May we suggest an essay written entirely in rhyming couplets? Or a treatise using just photographs? A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Source: Hachima Kikou
Top Image: Flickr (Benson Kua)