Revolution Lullabye

May 18, 2009

Emerson, Plagiarism, a Turnitin Trial, and an Experience of Cultural Disorientation

Emerson, Lisa. “Plagiarism, a Turnitin Trial, and an Experience of Cultural Disorientation.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 183-194.

Emerson, a writing professor at Massey University (New Zealand), was part of a trial of the Turnitin software at her institution and argues two points. First, Turnitin is a useful tool for teachers to use only if they are ready and equip to interpret the findings of the reports to create pedagogical solutions and outcomes. Second, students learn how to avoid plagiarism and practice citation best through individual conferences with teachers – more than through the fear of punishment (ratted out by Turnitin) or classroom lessons on citation systems. Individualized pedagogy is key for student learning about citation, and compositionists need to take the lead in universities that adopt Turnitin.

Quotable Quotes

If teachers aren’t interpreting and using Turnitin pedagogically: “Turnitin becomes a blunt instrument to accuse those of struggling to grasp a complex intellectual skill of moral failure – with huge repercussions for those students” (190).

Notable Notes

likens tipping rules (which vary country by country) to learning the intricacies of the academic citation system

problem with treating all students as potential cheaters by running them through Turnitin

Murray, Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

Murray, Laura J. “Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement: The Costs of Confusion.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 173-182.

Students need to know that there is a difference betweeen copyright infringement and plagiarism, and Murray advocates teaching them about citation systems (academic and otherwise), which places the focus on respect and collaboration instead of punishment and fear. Murray delineates between permission (copyright, market systems) and acknowledgement (citation systems), explaining that plagiarism is not an absence of permission but rather a neglect to acknowledge (purposeful or not.) People regularly use citation in speaking and writing, as it builds networks and credibility. Murray agues that the freedom to use and copy others’ ideas is not (and should not be seen) as an exception to copyright law for that freedom forms the foundation of the academic, intellectual endeavor.

Quotable Quotes

“I would suggest that citation acts as a powerful reminder of the collaborative and collective nature of knowledge” (176).

“It is normal to cite: it is part of the social fabric and habitual modes of speech” (178).

Notable Notes

citation covers everything, no matter how old – copyright runs out

Simon Fraser University example – problem with placing financial burden of requiring copyright permission by students for their papers when citation should be sufficient.

Grossberg, History and the Disciplining of Plagiarism

Grossberg, Michael. “History and the Disciplining of Plagiarism.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 159-172.

Grossberg focues on how the American Historical Association’s statement on plagiarism affects the policing for plagiarism among professional historians. He highlights the ineffectiveness of the statement to punish or allow redress for an act of plagiarism and argues that plagiarism policing should be left up to universities (who can do something about professors who plagiarize) and the public.

Notable Notes

Alexis de Tocqueville – the “shadow of the law” – how the law controls and governs our actions outside of a courtroom

popular historians not subject, not members of AHA

Rife, “Fair Use,” Copyright Law, and the Composition Teacher

Rife, Martine Courant. “‘Fair Use,’ Copyright Law, and the Composition Teacher.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 145-156.

Rife argues that students and educators need to study fair use within copyright law, because, as she shows by explaining the five Supreme Court cases that deal with fair use, even the court rulings are vague on what exactly is protected under fair use. Fair use allowances have increasingly been restricted so that now you can be in copyright infringment for the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials, not just for making a profit off of them (like selling your term paper.) Rife advocates for composition teachers to be proactive instead of living in fear, leading campaigns to rewrite university guidelines about fair use if they don’t agree with them instead of quietly subverting them.

Notable Notes

overview of fair use US Supreme Court and lower court case (including MGM v. Grokster (2005) and Kinkos case)

court decisions are often based on market impact – public good takes a backseat

copyright protection is automatic and includes four rights: the right to reproduce, publically display, perform, and prepare derivative work. Creative Commons licenses allows authors to opt out of some of those rights.

Lessig: we overrely on fair use to authorize unauthorized use. Instead, change the law from automatic full copyright protection

Walden and Peacock, Economies of Plagiarism

Walden, Kim and Alan Peacock. “Economies of Plagiarism: The i-Map and Issues of Ownership in Information Gathering.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 133-144.

Walden and Peacock give an overview of the issues in students using Web-based sources for their papers, specifically the contradiction between the Web seeming like a free, publicly-owned space (like a park) and the reality of the privately-owned information in it, which must be cited and used properly. They developed the i-map, a heuristic students can use to keep track of their research processes to make sure they properly document what they have found. They argue that there has been an additional onus placed on students to evaluate sources in a way they did not need to when they relied on library books and articles.

Kuipers, The Anthology as a Literary Creation

Kuipers, Christopher M. “The Anthology as a Literary Creation.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 122-132.

Kuipers questions the nature of the authorship of anthologies, drawing connections to the acts of selection, arrangement, and presentation that all authors must do. He describes the authoring moves anthology editors make: the deliberate arrangment and order of texts (what is first? last? sections?), the titling of untitled poems and stories, and the claim of copyright over the arrangement, not the texts themselves (which are repeated and borrowed from other anthologies.)

Pugh, Instinctual Ballast

Pugh, Christina. “Instinctual Ballast: Imitation and Creative Writing.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 114-121.

Pugh, a teacher of poets, explains how she structured a creative writing course around imitation, an approach widely discouraged in contemporary creative writing pedagogical practices. She cites the importance of writers being avid readers who can read as writers and claims that her students were able to expand their ability as writers in her course, in which students only read and did imitations. She argues for imitation and apprenticeship to become a more intregal part of writing curriculum, as mimesis is with other creative arts (dance, fine arts.)

Quotable Quotes

“An imitation course thus refines the boundaries of what we categorize as ‘the creative.’ It requires a student to do something more dangerous than to trust his own experience or to tell the story she thinks she wants to tell. Imitation unmoors the writer from her comfort zone.” (119).

Notable Notes

it’s perfectly OK to publish an imitation – it is still your own.

England, The Dynamic Nature of Common Knowledge

England, Amy. “The Dynamic Nature of Common Knowledge.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 104-113.

What is common knowledge is not fixed; it depends on discipline and discourse community. Students who overcite (for fear of plagiarism accusations) are marking themselves as novices within a discourse community. Students need to be taught that common knowledge is rhetorical and need to frame their writing within a discourse community.

Donahue, When Copying Is Not Copying

Donahue, Christiane. “When Copying Is Not Copying: Plagiarism and French Composition Scholarship.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 90-103.

Donahue describes the differences between how American and French writing teachers address the use of sources in writing. While American writing teachers focus on plagiarism and its punitive threats, the French educational system, which sees a deep connection between reading and writing, encourages students to play with other texts, borrowing, quoting, and imitating them without citation. Citation practices are not taught until late in the undergraduate or in the graduate years, as it is discipline-specific. Donahue argues that American teachers of writing should adopt this open, educational attitude of the French, which focuses on teaching students to manage many voices in their papers.

Quotable Quotes

“Effective quoting and citing are treated, in the scholarship, as an art; the goal is working from an author-based world (an author’s text, words, ideas) toward one’s own” (97).

French students are encouraged “to enter into relationships of equality and play with other texts, and that this leads them to a different understanding of the already-said” (91).

Copying: “a complex and culturally defined intellectual action, Bakhtinian to the core” (99).

Think about mentoring students into a discipline “rather than the moralistic, legalistic, or otherwise shame-filled act we like to call plagiarism” (100)

Notable Notes

French discourage paraphrase (Donahue argues that this distaste should be reconsidered.) Grounded in an aesthetic tradition, they don’t like “dilution” of the original text. French students are taught to summarize nonliterary text but to keep key phrases and frames, quote without quotation marks or citation

polyphonic writing (very Bakhtin) – it is difficult for students to figure out how to insert their voice in the mix

think about imitation as translation

paraphrase as reprise-modification, very dynamic becuase an utterance always changes when uttered

gives examples of student papers

Bawarshi, Genres as Forms of In(ter)vention

Bawarshi, Anis. “Genres as Forms of In(ter)vention.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 79-89.

Blanket accusations of plagiarism don’t account for the complexities of genre, culture, and discipline: the knowledge of how much is appropriate to imitate, recontextualize, and cite is local and contextual. This knowledge is something Bawarshi describes as “uptake” –¬† the space, actions, and relationship between invention and imitation. Bawarshi advocates teaching students about source use by addressing it locally: discipline by discipline, genre by genre. He gives two examples – the uptake of writing prompts to student essays and the uptake of the testimonio I, Rigoberta Menchu – as situations when there was a misread of the uptake and the understanding of the space between imitation and invention.

Quotable Quotes

“Imitation and invention exist on a genre-defined continuum and thereby have a variable relationship that we must acknowledge if we want to understand imitation’s inventive power – that genre-differentiated point of transformation where imitation becomes invention” (80).

“ideological interstices that configure, normalize, and activate relations and meanings within and between systems of genre.”

Notable Notes

takes uptake from speech-act theory: how an illocutionary act is taken up as a perlocutionary effect

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at