Markets in Procrastination–Corrupted Term Papers


James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Matty says:

    .swf? does that really mean what I think?

    I wouldn’t like to guess what you think, but wikipeadia says

    “Currently, SWF functions as the dominant format for displaying “animated” vector graphics”.

    Are many of your students submitting work in the form of animated graphics?Report

  2. Please ask your professors for an extension before you use a corrupted file.

    I’ve taught a few classes, and no one ever asked if they could give me a corrupted file as long as I give them an extension 🙂Report

  3. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    If everyone in the class needed an extension, and everyone sent in a corrupted file, would this be a problem? Perhaps in some cases the rules governing the class actually undermine scholarship.

    Hey I could turn you in this halfbaked paper today, or a week later, shazaam! Now I’ve actually said something interesting!

    Of course the easy way to fix this is just demand hard copies in addition. I’ve had many profs who have required just that. They can check it online against others, while also having a legible copy that excuses like “the internetz ate my homework” won’t be used.

    I suppose I’d be more in line with the immorality of this if I didn’t already think college deadlines are an often trivial process predicated more on the prof’s schedule than the students actually learning or creating something of value.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      I guess I have a few responses to this. The first one would be that I apparently do agree with you because the course I’m designing has very flexible deadlines based on the idea that most people will want to get their graded assignments back on time but some may need the extra week to actually do good work. I’ll see if it works, although I’ve been told by profs not to have high hopes.

      The flipside of this however is that students sometimes have fairly unrealistic expectations about how long it will take to actually grade their work. I’ve had 50 students turn in an exam on Wednesday and ask on Friday why they’re not getting them back. So, it’s entirely feasible to me that having very flexible deadlines could result (and might well result for the course I’m designing) in people turning the final essay on the day that grades are to be entered into the system and not understanding why you weren’t able to get everyone’s grades in and had to give some an ‘incomplete’. This brings us to extensions, which aren’t such a problem for me either, but I can understand how they can make it difficult for professors to have too many of them, especially if they’re going on a research leave. Finally, there is the philosophical question of whether we’re not doing a disservice by making the course requirements too flexible given that there are still plenty of employers that will soon be setting deadlines for our graduates and might not be so cool about getting that important report two weeks late. Often, when I make some requirement out to be a Big Deal it’s precisely because it’s something I know their future employers will expect from them right off the bat and I don’t want to reinforce their belief that it maybe doesn’t really matter.Report

  4. Avatar D. C. Sessions says:

    FWIW, there’s an easy way to remove the excuse: when the student uploads the file a script returns a checksum. It’s up to the student to make sure that the checksum agrees with the checksum of the file that they have verified to be the one they wrote.

    By the way (soapbox here): never accept editable file formats. PDF is a good choice, but the various Microsoft formats are self-corrupting (which is part of the reason that this trick is plausible.)

    It’s pretty easy to do with http or with e-mail, but if you don’t know how it’s easy enough that there are lots of people who can help you.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Matty–To me, “animated vector graphics” would be animated videos of disease carrying animals.

    E.C.–Sure it’s largely about our schedule. And when those students go out into the professional environment, their work will still mostly be predicated on someone else’s schedule. From my perspective, I don’t really do them any favors if I teach them that procrastination is ok and they can normally get extensions on work without any repercussions. Besides, in my experience, when I have allowed extensions, I’ve never received a very good paper after an extension. Students don’t use that time to improve a paper from crap to excellence–they use it to improve a paper from incomplete to completed crap.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

      Well if in your experience you’ve never received a good paper from an extension, I’ll take you at your word. In that case, no reason to ever allow them.

      As long as we agree that you’re primarily there to teach about your subject, only secondarily teach them about deadlines. Yes yes, I know, forever after you’ll always be required to meet deadlines. If a student doesn’t know how to meet a deadline without being sanctioned by you with a lower grade, and they’re 18, and have been dealing with deadlines all their life, well I’m not sure you or anyone else at the college will get them turned around.

      I didn’t realize college profs still took it upon them self to do students favors by imposing real world working conditions in a classroom for learning. Why not have a classroom arranged by cubicles as well. I’m sure there are all manner of professional environmental factors that could be introduced into the classroom for the educational benefit of our students.Report

  6. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Sorry for the snarkyness of that last paragraph. I’m curious, would you offer rewrites to your students, doable up till a certain point in the term.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      E.C., Ooops, I didn’t see that last comment before my last comment, so I misunderstood which snarky paragraph you were referring to. But still no offense taken. I can’t speak for other profs, but to a certain degree I do seek to familiarize students with professional standards. Take tardinss and absences, for example. One part of me says that if a student shows up late or skips class regularly, tough luck for them. Another part of me notes that arriving late is a distraction to other students and a theft of their investment in college. And the final part of me says, “this dumb fuck is going to be screwed if he doesn’t develop better habits; I’m in a position to help him develop better habits, so what is my professional responsibility to him?” (The one thing my mind doesn’t say, although a lot of my colleagues’ minds–or at least their mouths–do, is “he’s disrespecting me by showing up late or skipping.” That makes it about me, when I think really it should be about them.)

      If I was at a large public university, I probably wouldn’t do so, but I’m at a small private college that costs close to $30k a year. I think it’s professional negligence on our part to send students out of college unprepared for the business world they’re actually going to encounter. Sure, at 18 they should be accustomed to meeting deadlines, but for whatever reason, many are not (the vast majority are, I should emphasize, and that “many” is a small minority, but more than there ought to be, imo). I can’t control or change the past, so I work with what’s given me. If I have a student who can’t communicate well in speaking or writing, should I say, “he should have learned that in K-12” or should I emphasize those skills? I think I should emphasize those skills, so writing is an important component of all my classes, and all our majors have two required courses in which they have to do presentations, and one non-required but very popular course built around participation in the Model Arab League, which helps develop public speaking skills.

      I don’t hold to the idea that I only teach the concepts of my discipline. If there are general skills all students should know, we shouldn’t limit those to specific courses or subjects or we’re undermining the idea that they really are general skills. They should be taught in all classes in all disciplines so students come to see them as valuable to every field they may ultimately end up working in.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “Another part of me notes that arriving late is a distraction to other students and a theft of their investment in college.”

        But then, if you’re taking the “life skills” approach, then maybe you’d be doing the on-time students a favor by giving them a chance to learn to avoid distractions and focus on the matter at hand.

        Alternatively, you could take the attitude–as my employer does–that as long as you get your work done, nobody cares whether you show up on time, or at all.Report

  7. Avatar James Hanley says:


    Oh, the snarkiness didn’t bother me at all. To be honest, I do sympathize with the point about the artificiality of deadlines, precisely because we profs are in a profession where timelines on writing projects are tremendously flexible. Almost never will I be held to the standards I impose on my students. But I think I’m not being too hypocritical, because with rare exceptions I’m helping prepare them for a different world.

    As to offering re-writes, it depends on the class. The papers for my introductory class, usually dominated by frosh and sophs, are explicitly designed to require rewrites, so as to help them learn to write papers. So I require first a bibliography of possible sources, so I can lead them away from, say, wikipedia; then I require an introduction with thesis statement, so I can teach them to write a thesis statement; then I require the complete paper and require a rewrite before assigning a grade if I am not satisfied. I don’t know if all that actually works–some students are amazingly resistant at carrying such lessons over from one class to another–but for those who are actually trying, I think it should help. But in my upper-level classes it requires unusual circumstances for me to allow a rewrite.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

      Now it seems like in your experience, no one would take you up on a rewrite if offered, or if they did, they’d turn in a something that was still sub par.

      It’s unfortunate though, that in not offering re-writes or re-tests (something that professors not not given the resources to often do, so I’m fine with blaming the broader arrangement of most larger universities) the grade book is effectively closed on further work or progress. So that you complete a topic or unit, receive your mark, and then discouraged from improving on it since no improvement in one’s grade will ever take place to reflect that.

      Does preparing students for the deadlines of real life have priority over them learning something a month after test time or the paper deadline?

      Sure many students are dopes anyway, and wouldn’t take advantage of a more nuanced system. But if anything that would only support the viability of doing so, with the knowledge that your office hours door would not be pummeled down with students looking for do-overs.

      And I still ask, are there really people who wouldn’t understand deadlines in the workplace to the point where they would be fired for never being on time? And if that’s really the case, why should anyone be concerned about them if they can’t even be on time for the pay check that clothes and feeds them.Report

      • Avatar BSK says:

        I agree with JH that, to an extent, teachers must prepare their students not just for the world they currently inhabit but also the world they likely will inhabit. At the same time, for any individual assignment, we must always refer back to our goals.

        If I were to construct an assignment that was designed to have the kids truly understand the causes of the American Revolution and students could not do this in the time allotted but I hold them to the deadline, then I am undermining my primary goal to serve my second goal. But if my plan was to help them effectively and efficiently master the paper writing process, than hard deadlines are absolutely appropriate.

        FWIW, as a student, I almost never requested extensions and never considered simply not handing in a paper on time. Perhaps that was a fuction of having a teacher for a parent, but I just always knew that it was my job to get what I needed to get done when it needed to get done. And, the one time I did request an extension, I did so personally, well in advance, explaing to the prof what my situation was. But I had a lot of friends who simply said, “I’ll do it when I do it.” And often, they never faced consequences. Not only was this a blow to equity and the teacher/institution’s credibility, but it also showed those students that they didn’t need to adhere to deadlines. Fail.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Does preparing students for the deadlines of real life have priority over them learning something a month after test time or the paper deadline?

        There are different viewpoints on this. I have a friend who opposes failing introductory level students but is too serious about education to inflate grades, so he gives lots of retests. My view is, that trains students to think they can always catch it up later. Students are great at trying to game the system. My view is that holding their hand does them a great disservice. Whether they go on to grad school or law school or go into insurance or whatever, nobody’s going to be holding their hand then. I don’t think it’s a choice between having arbitrary deadlines and having them actually learn. I think teaching them to meet deadlines teaches them they’d better get engaged in the learning now, rather than procrastinating it until later.

        If it was just a one-shot game, I’d take your viewpoint. But it’s an iterated game, so we have to think about the incentives we create. Telling them they have limited time and sticking to it forces them to get serious about learning it now. And if that sounds too much like cramming, what does allowing them to push off all learning until the end of the semester result in?

        Besides, the learning doesn’t necessarily end with the test. The issues get brought up in other classes, and the lessons applied in new ways. And my college is small enough that I get to talk to my students regularly, and when they ask questions about what’s happening in the world I can relate it back to issue X from class Q.

        are there really people who wouldn’t understand deadlines in the workplace to the point where they would be fired for never being on time?

        Yes. Any manager can, I think, tell you they’ve experienced that. And I had a student a couple of years ago who through happening to be in the right place at the right time became head groundskeeper at a country club. Every day he asked if he could skip class, until one day, not yet knowing his occupation, I pointed out that if he took that attitude at work he’d be fired. He responded by boasting about being the boss at his job. Then I asked him if he had any subordinates, and when he said yes, I said, “What do you think they do when you take off work? If you don’t take it seriously, why would they? And if the work doesn’t get done right, who ultimately faces the responsibility?” The look on his face was priceless. It was one of maybe two times in my life where getting up on my soapbox really worked, as the message sunk in.

        And if that’s really the case, why should anyone be concerned about them if they can’t even be on time for the pay check that clothes and feeds them.

        Multiple reasons. One, they’re still adolescents, still maturing, so it seems a bit early to abandon them. Two, they or their parents are paying my college a lot of money, and that money pays my salary, so I’d be shirking my responsibilities if I didn’t. Third, productive employees make us all better off, unproductive employees or unemployed people don’t, so there’s a good macroeconomic reason to try to teach these lessons.

        Your premise seems to be that either they can’t learn the lesson or that they don’t deserve to. The first I know from experience to be empirically false, and the second would require some serious justification on your part. Again, we’re talking about adolescents–people whose brains are literally still maturing, physically. There are a lot of times I’m exasperated and want to kick their asses, and I am more than willing to suspend or expel students from college for repeated failures to perform (because in most cases it’s a serious wake-up call that serves a better lesson than hand-holding and easy forgiveness), but I am not willing to so quickly abandon them.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          I was posting the below comment while you were posting this one.

          “Students are great at trying to game the system. My view is that holding their hand does them a great disservice.”

          I just don’t see it as gaming the system. You’re not giving them answers, you’re not holding your hand, they did the work, and if it’s still no good, then they still get the no good grade. And we’ve been mainly referring to procrastinating students it seems, what about those that just don’t do well.

          For instance some profs will read rough drafts and give advice before hand. In which case you really have infinite do-overs up till the deadline. Perhaps we would bother agree on that instead? I want the the deadline to be some time before the end of the semester, but perhaps if it stayed where you put it, and all do-overs were valid until that point we’d get rid of the issue of procrastinators and what deadlines can teach them.

          As far as the issue of “can’t” learn deadlines, or don’t “deserve” to. It’s a problem of one size fits all. Some people need to learn about deadlines, others will magically forget about deadlines in between freshman year and graduation, and of course there are those that know how to follow deadlines, but have complicate schedules including academic extracurriculars, 18-21 credit course loads, part-time jobs, so allowing them flexibility in the management of their obligations could of course make them soft, lazy and complacent, or it could also allow them a more optimal arrangement for exploring their work and improving their performance. If your are saying that your personal experience leans towards the making soft/lazy, I’ll abide by that and concede.

          And, “Besides, the learning doesn’t necessarily end with the test.” I completely agree! Unfortunately the grade, the indication of your mastery of the topic or competency regarding it, does. Kudos to he/she who failed the test but studied intensely after the fact in order to having interesting and analytically cogent things to say about related topics in the future. I just don’t agree that the semester grade shouldn’t take this into account.

          I thank you for engaging me on this subject. Grading and class structure has always greatly interested me, all the way back to reading Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity in middle school.

          It’s just frustrating to see teaching practices often aimed at incentivizing the lazy/unprepared/uninterested students rather than the rest.

          Would you see any analogy between giving “binder” tests in high school, in order to test the organization of student’s note taking and paper filing and the deadlines/absence rules for teaching punctuality and attendance? (I agree tardiness is a different issue. Show or don’t show, but I would not want anyone disturbing my lectures/discussions either)Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            For instance some profs will read rough drafts and give advice before hand. In which case you really have infinite do-overs up till the deadline.

            That can be done without relaxing deadlines. The existence of it undermines your “one size fits all” argument. Good students take advantage of draft review, bad students are incentivized by deadlines.

            there are those that know how to follow deadlines, but have complicate schedules including academic extracurriculars,

            Yeah, and some of them think that it’s always the academics that should give way before their extra-curriculars. If I allow that, am I really teaching them the value of learning? No, sorry, I do get pissed off about this one. Students who are working part time jobs get some sympathy, although it’s limited. Students involved in sports and who have to go to all sorts of fraternity functions don’t get my sympathy. And that’s not because I’m opposed to those things, but because I don’t see why it’s the academics that should give way, rather than something non-academic, when you’re in college. Fortunately, our coaches generally agree.

            the learning doesn’t necessarily end with the test.” I completely agree! Unfortunately the grade, the indication of your mastery of the topic or competency regarding it, does.

            As long as we have courses that end at the end of the semester, with grades due then, you don’t really have an argument against me imposing deadlines–it’s only a quibble about when the deadline falls. If you want to argue for a major overhaul in our education process, have at it. Lots of us profs would love to work at places that are more free-form, but the only places I’ve seen that do that are very small private “oddball” colleges. I can’t comment on whether it actually works or not, in terms of developing real learning, although I do hope so. But I don’t think anyone’s demonstrated that you can run a larger institution–and by larger I don’t mean Ohio State, but any 1,000+ students college.

            t’s just frustrating to see teaching practices often aimed at incentivizing the lazy/unprepared/uninterested students rather than the rest.

            I think that’s a misperception. You’re focusing on an incentive for the lazy/unprepared/disinterested and thinking that’s all there is. Good students are mostly totally oblivious to the deadline incentive–it’s simply not a factor for them, other than in helping them organize their calendar. Wherever you set the deadline, the really good students will have their drafts written early and give themselves time to revise them. The pretty good students will set their two or three week paper-writing schedule in motion two or three weeks before the deadline. Believe me, the flexible deadline rarely matters to good students, so you’re actually encouraging something that does bad students lots of harm and provides almost no benefit to good students. And I’ve had a number of very bright students who freeze up when it comes to writing papers–no matter how many extensions I give them, their initial relief at having an extension gives way to more freezing up (I’ve even given an incomplete to such a student, who never could finish his 8 page paper).

            I can’t comment on the analogy. I don’t know what you mean by “binder” tests (it’s apparently something outside my experience).Report

            • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

              On the issue of complicated schedules. Say you have a student who is taking 18 credits, the max that are covered under a flat tuition rate at many places, plus are in an academic extra (philosophy club, outside reading group, some undergrad publication). Plus they are working in order to afford going to school (we’ll make it work study). There is no time to do all the reading, and all the papers, and all the tests to the best of your ability. Most semesters operate on a similar schedule, with most classes giving three major vollies of assignments/tests. Even just among the classes, one class will get less attention one time around, another will get more.

              Maybe you would argue the student is doing to much and it’s their own fault. All I’m trying to acknowledge is that there are hard working students that could utilize more flexibility.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                In this case I might exercise discretion and allow some flexibility. If a student shows me that every class has a paper due the same day, I might be generous. But if there’s simply no time to do everything, then how on earth can the student catch up later? If there is truly no time to do all the reading, etc., then the student can’t be a good student–they can’t say, I’ll read those two chapters that are due Oct. 18 by Nov. 10, because they still won’t have time.

                I do sometimes tell students they’re doing too much and they need to cut back. Usually they know it, but just need to have someone “in authority” say it out loud to validate their thoughts.

                But if someone’s trying to do so much that they can’t actually do it all, a deadline extension doesn’t actually help them do it all. And in my experience, it just helps them fool themselves into thinking they can, until the relaxed deadline looms, then they’re in just as much trouble as before.

                99% of the time it’s either simple procrastination or trying to do so much that relaxed deadlines don’t help.

                But when it’s illness, parents divorcing, freshman girl who got raped at a party, etc., then, yeah, I try to extend to them the generosity I would like.Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        “If I were to construct an assignment that was designed to have the kids truly understand the causes of the American Revolution and students could not do this in the time allotted but I hold them to the deadline, then I am undermining my primary goal to serve my second goal. But if my plan was to help them effectively and efficiently master the paper writing process, than hard deadlines are absolutely appropriate.”

        And that was my question above. I’m not saying Hanley’s only priority should be helping students to learn and think about the material in his course, but that it should be the main priority. Else the private college should stop awarding Bachelors of Arts degrees and start awarding certificates in meeting deadlines, punctuality and professinaly dotting one’s i’s and crossing one’s t’s. I’m not saying all of those book keeping skills aren’t important, they are, only that when it comes to prioritizing the arts/sciences portion of the degree, the latter can often undermine the former.

        I maintain that a college is an ivory tower of sorts, and that that is a good thing because it allows for more thoughtful and rigorous exploration of ideas and information without all of the “real world pressures” which tend to crowd out such behavior in the workplace (barring extremely creative work places). True, we don’t want the those who went to college thinking it would teach them all they needed to know to succeed at white collar work to leave college not knowing all they need to know to succeed at those endeavors. But we also don’t want the same institution responsible for liberating you to be just like every other aspect of life.

        Oddly enough, it seems the one place I don’t support the “nanny state” mentality is in the university.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:


          I really do get your point here, but I don’t think it’s realistic for most students. I have seen very very bright young people, for whom I have the utmost respect intellectually, walk out of college and struggle because they got all kinds of book smarts but lack some real practical skills.

          I simply don’t see that incorporating those skills takes away from the main priority of teaching them to think and learn. Most of my classes are 4 credit hour classes that meet for 14 weeks, minus a holiday here and there (and not counting finals week), so I have about 50 or so hours of educational time per term for each subject. What do you think I’m doing with most of that time? When tardiness becomes a problem, I give a 30 second warning, then start locking the doors when class starts. It doesn’t take students long to learn, and that learning is done on their time, not in class.

          When a student comes to me to say they need an extension on their paper, except in very rare cases, the problem is always simple procrastination. By giving extensions, I’m teaching them a lesson–procrastination and begging pay. By not giving extensions, I’m using very little time–almost always office time rather than class time–to teach them that they need to engage in learning habitually, regularly, daily, and not delay it until later, at a more convenient time.

          Meanwhile, what am I doing with class time? I’m teaching them to learn and think about the material in the course. What am I doing when a student comes to me after class or during my office hours to ask questions? I’m teaching them to learn and think about the material in the course.

          There’s just no real conflict that I see, or that I’ve experienced.

          The funny thing in all this is that my job would be a lot easier if I had the type of students where I didn’t need to do that peripheral teaching. But I don’t shirk it.Report

          • Avatar BSK says:

            First off, I think this is a really fanscinating and fantastic conversation. JH and I have gone round and round on education (sometimes in the same direction, sometimes opposite) and I always appreciate the opportunity to do so again.

            To the heart of the matter, I think it largely comes down to what we think the responsibilities of the educator are. Sometimes these are spelled out in job descriptions, sometimes they are implicitly understood by all (or most) involved parties, and sometimes they are created and managed internally.

            Could a teacher be considered competent at his job if his students walked out of his room with a mastery of the subject matter but no respect for, understanding of, or ability to meet deadlines? Many would argue yes. And they might be right, if we look only at what the teacher is charged with formally. Personally, I’d argue no. I think we have a greater duty and obgliation to our students (and, as JH points out, their families) as well as the society they will join to make them productive members of society. It is why we have honor codes and punish ethical violations. We acknowledge that our role goes beyond a simple mastery of content or skill.

            I think the problem is the perspective that these two ends are mutually exclusive. They are not. They can be achieved simultaneously and parallely through dynamic teaching, differentiated instruction, and varied assignments.

            I teach Pre-K. Obviously, I’m in a very different boat than JH. Yet, there is still more similarities than differences. If I’m teaching a lesson on sound spelling, then I put little to no emphasis on the depth of the “writing”, since my goal is to get them to focus on phonemes. If I’m teaching a lesson on story telling, then I might not even ask them to write, simply taking dictations that focuses on the narrative they create. Going forward (likely not in my class, but probably soon afterwards), they will be tasked with assignments that demand both. I would assume that, at the college level, some “assignments” will focus solely on engagement with the content; these might include classroom discussions and lectures, journal writing, etc., with little to no empahsis on deadlines or other pragmatics. Others will probably entail a blend of both content and form, requiring that the students not only demonstrate an understanding of the information but also present it effectively and efficiently. (My hunch is that there are no assignments that focus on deadlines for deadlines’ sake at the college level, but I may be wrong). It doesn’t have to be either/or; it can be both/and.Report

          • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

            Good responses from you both, I retreat from my earlier positions!Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    They put more effort into gaming the system than it would take to go along with it.

    Such things are why I suspect that everything is going to be okay.Report

  9. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    “The paper is due on this day, by this time, in my mailbox drop. It can also be turned in electronically by this time, via email… or sent by this time, to the fax machine in my office. I also will accept Western Union telegraphs, bike messenger delivery, or carrier pigeon. Submitted with implied bribes like a bottle of scotch or a $100 bill will be frowned upon. Transmitted via Morse Code, semaphore, or any other method that requires me to transcribe your paper is not acceptable.

    If I get two or more copies, you’re fine. If I get one copy, you’re fine. If I get zero copies, you’re in trouble unless you’ve talked to me about it prior to the deadline. We’re adults (or pretending to be adults). I expect you to deliver your work prior to the deadline, but I accept that fact that as adults you may have conflicts or problems or computer crashes that impair your ability to deliver the paper on time. I will give you extra time if needed, but regardless of the circumstances keep in mind that your compatriots are delivering their work on time and under budget, so if you require more time I’m going to expect an increase in quality to compensate. What would normally be an “A” paper will get a “A-” or a “B+” or possibly as low as a “B” if it is delivered late. If you want an “A”, either turn it in on time or write the best goddamn paper that’s ever been written in the history of academia.

    And if I get an electronic copy that I can’t read because it’s corrupted, locked, encrypted, or otherwise folded, spindled, or mutilated, that counts as “no copy”. Submit electronic copies as plain text files, or take the risk that I can’t read your version of word or whatever. Please make sure that you send me the FINAL copy of your paper if you submit it electronically. I don’t want a draft copy that you “accidentally” saved over your latest version.

    The one hard rule, that will result in you getting an “F” on your paper regardless of any other circumstances, is to send me an electronic file infected with a virus. Again, if you send me a plain text file you can probably avoid this even if your machine is riddled with many different viruses, as most viruses don’t infect plain text files.”

    If I ever get done with this PhD, I think I’m actually going to have my students blog their paper writing process (notes, citations, drafts, etc.)Report

  10. Avatar AMW says:

    A student tried something similar in a class I team-taught a couple years ago. But he just sent blank Word files and claimed he didn’t know what had happened. My co-teacher looked in the properties section of the files, and found that they had been created the same day he sent them to us. Clever.Report

  11. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    I talked to my friend who TA’s. Said professors now have students send the paper as an attachment as well as copy paste the text directly into the email.Report