Plagiarism

posted Nov 19, 2012, 8:02 AM by jj pionke
One of the continuing banes of my existence is plagiarism.  The first time I caught a plagiarist, I was so enraged that I quite literally saw red and could not grade for the rest of the day because I was so upset.  I was deeply disappointed.  Why anyone would plagiarize has been very hard for me to understand.  Is it laziness?  Malicious intent?  Ignorance?  Something else?  I take plagiarism hard because I love academia and we need to give attribution as we make our way in the world and yet, plagiarism is all around us.  I'm guilty of it too.  I look for an image of something on the internet, find the one I am looking for, and throw it on my powerpoint slide without putting any kind of link as to where I got it from.  This has largely been a common practice in academia and yet, it is considered plagiarism.  There is starting to be a shift in this with the use of creative commons and making it easier to cite material but old habits die hard.

Maybe that is the answer.  By the time I get these students, these habits of plagiarism have been ingrained in them by their previous teachers with idea of you don't have to cite material from the course lectures or materials from the main texts in the course.  How then can this be combated?  My students eyes glaze over when we do the MLA unit.  Maybe what needs to be done is to have a radical reworking of how MLA and other such systems are taught.  Maybe we have to stop thinking of them as a burden and start thinking of them as a joy and as something fun to do.  What that looks like, I have no idea, but it bears thinking about.
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