Saturday, August 9, 2014


A new direction in academic misconduct: Rogeting, the use of a thesaurus when plagiarizing. The results, as reported in The Guardian, are both sad and hilarious. The stellar example, from Chris Sadler, the Middlesex University lecturer who coined the term Rogeting : “sinister buttocks.” In other words, “left behind.”

That students could hope to succeed by means of such substitutions suggests that something is broken — in their understanding of how language works, and in their ability to imagine a reader’s response to their writing.

Thanks to Ian Bagger for sending The Guardian article my way.

A related post
Beware of the saurus (Don’t hunt for “better words”)

comments: 4

Daughter Number Three said...

Thanks for the laugh... sinister buttocks!

I remember recognizing this problem with "synonyms" when I was learning French in high school. Looking in a French-English dictionary, it would often list more than one word and I felt totally unable to pick the one that meant the word in the sense I intended.

Jeannie said...

Sad and hilarious indeed. Sorry for the length of my comment, but I thought you'd be amused by my own problem with "rogeting" last spring. My FB friends were certainly amused.

Here goes . . .

I finally cracked the case! I've been reluctant to finish grading a research paper full of sentences like "the sex degree at conception in terrain China arrived at 117:100 .... significantly higher than the characteristic standard." After pouring over searches of two-word constructions on Google, knowing full well this student's wording was so odd and unnaturally structured that it had to be plagiarism, but completely baffled as to how to prove it, my search was complete.

"117:100" and "china" + Google = Plagiarized off Wikipedia.

Oh, the effort it must have taken to change phrases like "The original policy was to keep China's population" [original] to "The first objective of the strategy was to keep China's populace" [plagiarized]. "

In this sentence, the bracketed words are the ones that were changed: A study attributed [credited] preponderance [prevalence] of reported male births in mainland [territory] china to four primary causes [drivers] : diseases [maladies] which affect females more seriously than males [guys]; the result [consequence] of widespread [boundless] underreporting . . . ; the illegal [illicit] practice of sex-selective abortion [sex-particular premature birth--a personal favorite of mine] made possible [conceivable] by the widespread availability [broad accessibility] of ultrasound . . . NEED I GO ON!

I wasted an awful lot of time figuring this out, and I have to say this is the greatest effort I've ever seen a student go to to plagiarize a paper, and without it, I wouldn't be able to blow your minds with my postings of student antics.

Michael Leddy said...


I admire your diligence and craftiness in tracking down the source.

That a student would take the time to change a Wikipedia article in this way . . . sheesh.

Michael Leddy said...

Oh — and please don’t apologize for sharing a story like that. :)