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Old April 18th, 2008, 12:52 PM   #1
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Plagiarism


One issue I encounter quite regularly as a university history instructor is plagiarism. I've seen some studies that estimate that as many as 40% of students cheat or plagiarize at some point in their university careers. My question to students concerns motive: why? My question to teachers concerns response: how do you deal with plagiarism?
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Old April 19th, 2008, 04:27 AM   #2

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Re: Plagiarism


Could it be laziness, lack of an original idea, or an inability to express one's self articulately. Or is it now just too easy to "cut and paste". Could it be an added pressure to succeed?? There is no excuse for it.


I remember back to a time when a certain Irish Saint was accused of "copying" another's work - full scale war there.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 04:32 AM   #3

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Re: Plagiarism


theres a quote i heard somewhere. it went something like:

'Copying off of one person is plagiarism, copying off of ten is research'
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Old April 19th, 2008, 04:51 AM   #4

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Re: Plagiarism


Quote:
Originally Posted by gashead View Post
'Copying off of one person is plagiarism, copying off of ten is research'

Yep.
It was me that first wrote that.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 06:37 PM   #5

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Re: Plagiarism


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranke View Post
One issue I encounter quite regularly as a university history instructor is plagiarism. I've seen some studies that estimate that as many as 40% of students cheat or plagiarize at some point in their university careers. My question to students concerns motive: why? My question to teachers concerns response: how do you deal with plagiarism?
As a teacher who has taught at the high school level, I would be more willing to say that students don't understand how to effectively do research. By the time they get into college they don't have the tools they need to effectively avoid plagiarism. Which is why I'm teaching how to do research at the Intermediate level. Hopefully, by the time they get out of high school, they will know how to effectively do research and plagiarism won't be as much of an issue.

Just a side note, there are many historians who believe some of the greatest men associate with history plagiarized their work. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stephen Ambrose, just to name a few. I think it's the system of teaching rather than kids purposely doing that (although there are quite a few who do plagiarize on purpose)
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Old April 19th, 2008, 07:38 PM   #6

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Re: Plagiarism


Paddyboy: didn't you copy that off me!!!
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Old April 19th, 2008, 07:43 PM   #7

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Re: Plagiarism


Well put Comet - I mean if they haven't been taught any different - how can you give them one over the back of the noggin' for doing it.

I think you have really hit on an important aspect of learning - research - how to do it successfully, citing sources, using quotes, using footnotes and appendixes, including a bibliography (even if it is just "selected" sources).

Unfortunately today, I guess the downside to the internet is the availability of so many works and the ease at which you can save stuff to your own computer to use later; whereas "in the old days" you actually had to make physical notes yourself.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 11:18 PM   #8

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Re: Plagiarism


I'd also have to ask how much plagiarism is accidental. My college makes their Academic Integrity standard a huge deal and usually make incoming freshman want to leave a mess in their pants.

Remembering everything you're supposed to cite and then remembering to cite it can be a pain in the rear end. And I'm constantly googling how I'm supposed to write things in my bibliography.
And then different dept.'s or professors can require different things. History Dept. likes Turabian (footnotes and endnotes, love of my life) and everyone else requires us to use MLA, which I utterly DESPISE!!!
So how much plagiarism is due to student error and not malicious copying from Wikipedia?

And who the heck does these studies anyway? 40% seems a little steep, just like the fact I'm supposed to believe 25% of girls have an STD
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Old April 20th, 2008, 01:30 AM   #9

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Re: Plagiarism


While neither an enrolled student nor a teacher I have copied and pasted (i.e. plagiarized) the following from a website called techdirt:

Plagiarism vs. Inspiration
from the rethinking-plagiarism dept
Two years ago, we posted about Malcolm Gladwell's fascinating New Yorker piece rethinking the concept of plagiarism. After he found out that an article he had written had been plagiarized as part of a play, he went through a series of emotions -- at first, claiming that such plagiarism was "theft." However, he quickly regretted that feeling (and the fact that he dashed off a fax to the author saying exactly that), and slowly began to change the way he felt about plagiarism. He noted that, especially in a case like this, his words had been transformed into something totally different, and that while the words were the same, the product was totally different. He read the play, and found it fascinating, and realized the value of derivative works, even if it borrowed liberally from his own. After that, he couldn't understand why people often get so upset about plagiarism. A couple weeks ago, we noted that plagiarism was incredibly common -- and not everyone agreed what counted as plagiarism. In that article, it was predicted that Google's book scanning and search product would like reveal much more plagiarism, perhaps from some famous authors -- and raised the question of whether or not that was really such a big deal. Not long before that, we pointed to an entire article on plagiarism that was, itself, plagiarized.

Now, John Bennett points us to yet another article on the topic, this time at the NY Times, that talks about the standard reaction to plagiarism may be heightened these days by a culture that is so overly focused on ownership of ideas and the "story" of our lives. The article talks about the rise of reality television and the idea that the story of your life now has much more potential to become a commercial property -- leading many to worry that others might "steal" it somehow. It certainly raises issues about the separation between full on plagiarism, such as copying an entire piece of work, as compared to more "inspirational" plagiarism that is more based on taking a basic idea from someone and creating a derivative work -- perhaps using someone's real-life experiences to make a fictional story seem more true-to-life. Either way, all of these stories help raise questions about what specifically should count as plagiarism, and how serious an issue it really is.

*****************************
(And of course Shakespere never plagarized anything)

Last edited by Erasmus Folly; April 20th, 2008 at 01:51 AM.
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Old April 20th, 2008, 04:54 AM   #10

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Re: Plagiarism


Good points by everyone so far; hopefully I can add something equally useful here. I really like the quote Gashead posted; I know from my experience as a former history major that while researching and writing a paper, it can often be difficult to tell which ideas are yours and which are the ideas of the authors you have read. Is it possible after all to have a completely original idea, and if so, what is so great about that? We're all influenced by the things we see, hear, read, or otherwise experience, so in a sense we HAVE to plagiarize the ideas of others to write anything. Obviously using someone else's entire work verbatim is wrong, but I think the important thing is to use the sources you have to form your own interpretation of whatever you're writing about.

As Erasmus Folly alluded to, Shakespeare "borrowed" material from all over to use in his plays. While the ideas for many of his plots were not his own, he did alter them in significant ways to create the works we know and love today. I don't think the original stories Shakespeare borrowed from would inspire in us the same emotions that the Bard's tales do.

BTW Erasmus, it's not plagiarism if you cite your source, which you did
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