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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Plagiarism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1276  Thursday, 10 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Dec 1998 10:51:31 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

[2]     From:   Ethan Wells <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Dec 1998 11:55:09 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

[3]     From:   Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Dec 1998 10:29:00 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

[4]     From:   Barbara R. Hume <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Dec 1998 16:55:02 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Dec 1998 10:51:31 EST
Subject: 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

>  For every single course I teach, I require the students to write a one
>  page, in-class essay on the first day of the course.  I tell them this
>  is to help me get to know them and their writing better.  And it is.
>  But it is mostly for my reference.  I keep these essays until the end of
>  the term, and if I get any suspicious work, I compare it with the
>  in-class product.    When I confront students, I call them in, hold up
>  their first in-class effort, and say "This is what you wrote on the
>  first day of class."  Meaningful silence.  "And this is what you turned
>  in last week." More meaningful silence.  So far, they have always
>  confessed on the spot and begged forgiveness.
>
>  For what it's worth...
>
>  Karen Peterson-Kranz

Yes, Karen, I do the same thing.  I also put a statement about
plagiarism (defining the difference between having someone help you
write a paper, providing guidance or clarification, and writing it for
you, and explaining that all sources, paraphrased or directly quoted,
must be credited).  Then I have them sign a statement at the end of the
personal profile that asks for their names, addresses, and telephone
numbers, etc. that they have read and understood the syllabus, and
accept it as a contract between the class and me.  Works wonders (but
then, I have 25 years in government contracting in addition to my
teaching experience to make me conscious of the sad need to put things
in writing).  I will be happy to send a copy of the form-or even the
pertinent section of the syllabus -- off-list to anyone who would like
one.  At the very least, it precludes the defense "I didn't
understand/didn't know/didn't see."

Best,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ethan Wells <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Dec 1998 11:55:09 -0500
Subject: 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

I must admit I am rather disturbed by the recent turn in the discussion
on plagiarism.  Quite a few of the commentaries have been based on a few
tacit assumptions that I think need to be made explicit:

1) - the oft-repeated claim that one ought to be suspicious of those
papers that are particularly good does a great disservice to
undergraduates.  Can an undergraduate not write a "good" paper on her
own?  Must she rely on someone else's "help?"  I think not.  If the only
reason one is suspicious of a paper is because it is good, this is no
reason at all.  (If of course there is corroborating evidence - for
instance, previous papers that demonstrate a dreadful lack of analytic
skills, then perhaps suspicion is warranted-though even here, one must
be careful: for it might very well be because her previous paper was so
terrible that the student decided to work much harder, and write one
that is much better).

2) - basing assessments of a writer's skill on her in-class work, as
Karen E Peterson-Kranz suggests, assumes a rough correspondence between
in-class and outside-class work.  Given a week to write something as
opposed to an hour or two, however, I think I would be most embarrassed
if my outside-class essay was not markedly better than my in-class.

3) - taking the student's bewilderment or silence as a sign of guilt
risks presupposing the guilt it pretends to prove.  Confronting the
student with a charge of plagiarism must be done quite carefully.  To
charge the student and then take the student's bewilderment, silence, or
clumsy defense as evidence of guilt is to overlook that the student
might very well be bewildered by the charge, perhaps a little scared,
and unable to defend herself handily not because she is guilty, but
because she is intimidated.  Remember that the student will be most
bewildered if she never saw the charge coming - which is evidence not of
her guilt, but of her innocence.

Plagiarism is a serious charge.  But one must be careful not to make it
the grounds for a witch hunt.  I suspect - and perhaps I am naive - that
it is not as epidemic as one might think.  But even if it is, I wonder
if it isn't more important for professors to avoid at all costs adding a
policing function to their posts than to stamp out with a furor the
inauthentic work of the careless or dishonest.

(One might also think that anyone who paid $2 a page for the paper
Gabriel Egan shared with us has already been punished enough.)

ethan wells

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn A. Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 9 Dec 1998 10:29:00 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

For what it's worth, Cliff's Notes has just been purchased by the people
who publish those various X for Dummies titles...  couldn't have been a
more serendipitous pairing if we on the List had arranged the marriage
ourselves....

Marilyn B.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Barbara R. Hume <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Dec 1998 16:55:02 -0700
Subject: 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1270  Re: Plagiarism

Has no one ever said, "See how much my writing has improved under your
tutelage"?

Barbara Hume

>For every single course I teach, I require the students to write a one
>page, in-class essay on the first day of the course.  I tell them this
>is to help me get to know them and their writing better.  And it is.
>But it is mostly for my reference.  I keep these essays until the end of
>the term, and if I get any suspicious work, I compare it with the
>in-class product.    When I confront students, I call them in, hold up
>their first in-class effort, and say "This is what you wrote on the
>first day of class."  Meaningful silence.  "And this is what you turned
>in last week." More meaningful silence.  So far, they have always
>confessed on the spot and begged forgiveness.
 

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