Archive for the ‘Plagiarism’ Category

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Who's Doing the Work?

posted: 6.2.15 by Traci Gardner

At my presentation at the Computers and Writing Conference last week, I shared ten narrative remix assignments and related student work (example shown in the picture on the right). When it came time for the Q&A session, someone asked, “How do you know that students are doing the work?”

When I heard that question, there was a moment when I stopped and panicked. What if they were cheating? What if it wasn’t their work? Who was doing the work? How did I know for sure? [read more]

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Categories: Plagiarism, Traci Gardner
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Fighting Plagiarism in High School and College

posted: 11.15.11 by Traci Gardner

6328122538_1a855f2017_oiParadigms, the company that developed the plagiarism-detection services TurnItIn and WriteCheck (recently reviewed in The Chronicle of Higher Ed), released a report earlier this month that found that students copy information from Internet sources without proper citations. As KQED’s MindShift explains in its coverage, the report simply “confirms what a lot of teachers already know.”

Call me cynical if you like (you won’t be the first), but the fact that a company selling plagiarism-detection services finds that plagiarism exists seems a bit self-serving. Were they really likely to announce that plagiarism is no more and put themselves out of business?

Even with my skepticism, though, I admit that the report shares some interesting Plagiarism Differences in High School and College Students (explained via the MindShift article). What I don’t see in iParadigm’s analysis, however, is any data-driven exploration of how the general differences between high school and college students might bear upon the differences in their plagiarism.

Instead, the report makes generalizations like these:

  • The most obvious conclusion to draw is that younger students do not have as sound an understanding of what constitutes a proper source for written work. Instead, they are sourcing material from familiar sites.
  • This may be due to the pressures students face in college. Independent for the first time, students must balance a heavy academic workload with other commitments, including social, work or extracurricular activities.
  • Possible explanations for this difference could be based on behavioral patterns of the age group [college students], the nature of the assignment, deeper engagement in current events, or a better understanding of credible sources among higher education students.(All quotes from p. 8 of the White Paper “Plagiarism and the Web: A Comparison of Internet Sources for Secondary and Higher Education Students”)

[read more]

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Categories: Plagiarism
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Plagiarism. . .again

posted: 8.25.11 by Andrea Lunsford

Last week, The Chronicle of Higher Education ran “Toward a Rational Response to Plagiarism” by Professor Rob Jenkins of Georgia Perimeter College, which almost immediately evoked comments from left, right, and center–many of them demonstrating just how badly we need a “rational response” to plagiarism!

Jenkins’s piece is indeed commonsensical: he recommends stating policies clearly, keeping priorities straight (we are teachers, not police detectives), talking openly and often with students about plagiarism and its consequences, giving assignments that are very difficult to plagiarize on, and refusing to punish all students by using some outfit like Turnitin.com. All sensible and straightforward, and I think most writing teachers accept and practice such strategies.

But doing so does little to address the root of the problem, which commenter Jennifer Farrell nails on the head (imho) when she says, “Our students view writing as open source. They’re not cheating; they’re modifying existing work.  A new ethic is developing. . . .”  Reading this article and responses to it felt like déjà vu all over again to me, since over 15 years ago I gave a series of talks on intellectual property where I made exactly that argument:  student writers are viewing writing in very different ways and we need to work hard to understand where they are coming from. These early  thoughts have been corroborated by findings from the Stanford Study of Writing, as students repeatedly told me that they defined writing in very broad ways and that they did not feel the same kind of intense “ownership” of every syllable they write as earlier generations have done. [read more]

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Categories: Plagiarism
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When Professors (and Politicians) Plagiarize

posted: 6.20.11 by archived

A few weeks ago I posted about graduation speeches. Well, the dean of medicine at the University of Alberta (Canada) has just been accused of plagiarizing a speech that he gave at a graduation reception June 10. Dr. Philip Baker has admitted there was a “failure to attribute the source of my inspiration.” Notably, he doesn’t use the word plagiarism. Yet students claim that he lifted the speech word-for-word from a speech given by the doctor, professor, and best-selling author Atul Gawande at Stanford University last year.

This is by no means the first scandal regarding a plagiarized speech, nor is it likely to be the last. You might remember that Vice President Joe Biden was accused of plagiarism in 2008. His defense was that he didn’t know how to cite the original source. “If I had intended to cheat,” he said, “would I have been so stupid?”

Baker’s and Biden’s “mistakes” are things we can talk about in class. They illustrate how serious (and sometimes complicated) plagiarism is and demonstrate that plagiarism isn’t just something that teachers drill into students, but a larger cultural phenomenon. I also think it’s important to examine the excuses, explanations, and repercussions. [read more]

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Categories: Jay Dolmage, Plagiarism
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An Easy-as-Apple-Pie Plagiarism Lesson

posted: 11.23.10 by Traci Gardner

pieTalking about plagiarism is as easy as apple pie. And thanks to the recent controversy surrounding an article published in Cooks Source magazine, we now have a great way to start the classroom discussion. all began with a 2005 article about medieval recipes for apple tarts, written by Monica Gaudio and published on the Gode Cookery Web site. Gaudio’s article was copied, retitled, and edited for modern American spelling (from the original medieval spelling). The revised version was published in the October 2010 issue of Cooks Source magazine, a small, regional publication. It’s a simple case of plagiarism and copyright infringement—but it became much more complicated, growing into an Internet meme. The key cause of the explosive reaction wasn’t the plagiarism itself, but the defense offered by Judith D. Griggs, founder of Cooks Source. Here’s an excerpt from Gaudio’s blog:

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. [read more]

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Categories: Plagiarism
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Discussing Intellectual Property Rights

posted: 6.15.09 by Traci Gardner

Teaching about Copyright
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently released their “Teaching Copyright” curriculum and website. Created in part as a response to The Copyright Alliance’s “Think First, Copy Later” collection, the EFF curriculum focuses on 5 lesson plans:

You may find the lesson plans are too scripted for the classes you teach, but the ideas and the linked materials are great resources for college classrooms.

In fact, you might skip the lessons altogether and go directly to the Resources Tab, where you’ll find the handouts, articles, and related information all on one Web page. Here are some examples:

Teaching How to Avoid Plagiarism
If your intellectual property rights unit also includes a discussion of avoiding plagiarism, visit the St. Martin’s Tutorial on Avoiding Plagiarism. It’s a free resource that explains what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. The tutorial includes everything you need, from readings to practice exercises.

For a fast review of plagiarism with your class, be sure to take a look at The Bedford Researcher’s Checklist: Avoiding Plagiarism. The one-page handout makes a simple outline for class discussion and provides a handy take-away resource that students can use as they write.

Additional Information
If you want to learn more about copyright and fair use in the classroom, check out the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Literacy Education. This report and the related resources from the Media Education Lab at Temple University should answer any lingering questions you have about intellectual property rights.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Integrating sources, Plagiarism
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Plagiarism Workshop

posted: 12.9.08 by Nick Carbone

Presented to the Cuyahoga Community College English Faculty

“Steal This Talk” Part 1 of 8
Losing Voice: The Threat of Plagiarism.

“Steal This Talk” Part 2 of 8: We Were All Freshmen
“Steal This Talk” Part 3 of 8: Plagiarism Statements: Do’s and Don’ts
“Steal This Talk” Part 4 of 8: Problematizing Plagiarism
“Steal This Talk” Part 5 of 8: Helping Students Not Hang Themselves
“Steal This Talk” Part 6 of 8: Research: What Might It Mean
“Steal This Talk” Part 7 of 8: The One True Source
“Steal This Talk” Part 8 of 8: The Benevolent Panopticon

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Categories: Plagiarism, Student Success, Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology, Working with Sources
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Write for Wikipedia

posted: 2.15.08 by Barclay Barrios

As an exercise in collaborative writing and as a way to have students deepen their understanding of a text, have your class work collaboratively to propose, update, or modify an entry about the current essay or author for Wikipedia. If your handbook has information on collaboration, you might first ask students to read that section. You can also use this as an opportunity to discuss plagiarism—why is it OK to collaborate on this kind of writing but not on a paper? You can broaden the conversation to include the role of Wikipedia in academic research and writing.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Collaboration, Plagiarism, Popular Culture, Teaching with Technology
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The Wages of Plagiarism

posted: 11.5.07 by Barclay Barrios

To help your students understand the consequences of plagiarism, have them use the Web to research cases of plagiarism in the “real world.” What were the consequences? What role does plagiarism play in the careers of actual people, careers your students might have some day? You might also broaden this conversation to discuss intellectual property more generally.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Plagiarism, Research, Teaching with Technology
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Plagiarism: A Love Affair

posted: 6.5.07 by Barclay Barrios

Never have I seen a teacher more emotional, never have I been more emotional, than when dealing with a case of plagiarism. What’s up with that?

What I find so interesting, you see, is that the emotion (which can be at times almost overwhelming) seems to resonate not from some virtuous commitment to academic honor nor even from some deep sense of crime and punishment but, more often than not, from what I can only describe as love betrayed, as though you’ve not only found out your partner is having an affair but you learned it by catching her or him in flagrante delicto. There’s the same sense of injured trust. There’s the anger. There’s the thirst for revenge. When someone plagiarizes in my classroom–and the classrooms of many teachers I have worked with–it feels like, well, being cheated on.

That’s why there are two basic rules for plagiarism in my program. First, never confront a student before getting a second opinion. Taking the time to find that impartial observer–either me in my capacity as Director of Writing Programs or any other teacher you can find–allows time for the rush of emotions to subside. Plagiarism is serious, yes, but because of that very seriousness it is not something for rash action. In fact there’s been more than one occasion when I’ve taken a look at a suspected case and said “Well, I’m not really sure this is plagiarism, and here’s why.” That’s why getting that second opinion turns out to be so handy, all emotions aside.

The second rule is perhaps more controversial: never cut a deal with a plagiarist … you will only get burned in the end. Invariably, every time I’ve seen a teacher work out some compromise (“I’ll fail you for this assignment, but not the class” or “OK, I can see how you misunderstood our class discussion, but as long as you understand plagiarism fully now”) there’s some second act of academic dishonesty and hence some second act of betrayal, all the more painful. It may not always be a second case of plagiarism but always it comes back in some way to bite them on the a**. If your lover cheats on you, get a new lover ’cause cheaters don’t change. We have a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism in our program not because the crime is so heinous (though, clearly, it is) but only because nothing else seems to work.

You know there’s this god awful show called Cheaters. Suspicious partners have the show track their lovers and, invariably, they are shown video evidence of the cheating which leads directly into an emotional, sometimes violent, direct on-air confrontation. It’s not the kind of thing I want to see happening in a writing program.

And plagiarism is, I think, inevitable. For me, it’s an irresolvable remainder in the educational system–something that somehow the system itself produces by its very structure. To be sure, we do all we can in our program to prevent plagiarism. We have a detailed FAQ about academic dishonesty that’s discussed in class. After this discussion, students sign a statement acknowledging that they understand what plagiarism is. We avoid using assignments that are in our reader, since they’re being used at schools around the country. We create original standard sequences for new teachers each semester and all teachers are encouraged to write their own assignments. A monoculture, after all, presents the greatest risk.

Plagiarism? A love affair? Attack me, please. Tell me I’m way off base. Tell me I’m Jane Gallop reborn. Tell me I am wrong, wrong, wrong. But also tell me what to do. Tell me how you deal with the emotional charge of plagiarism. Tell me what you do to make sure that emotional trigger isn’t even there. And, if you’ve found the holy grail that diminishes (eliminates?) plagiarism, tell me that too.

Comments: (5)
Categories: Citing Sources, Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Plagiarism, Readers, Teaching Advice
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