Revolution Lullabye

June 1, 2009

DeSana, Preventing Plagiarism

DeSana, Laura Hennessey. Preventing Plagiarism: Tips and Techniques. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2007.

DeSana, a high school English teacher and part-time writing instructor at NYU, argues that students need to learn how to do original, subjective, interested¬†research, not just retell what their sources say. She relies on an literature-based writing assignment sequence that begins with freewriting responses to a primary source, then analyzing and adding secondary sources. Her goal is for students to be the dominant voice in their thesis-driven researched arguments, controlling their source use with effective quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. She believes that this kind of assignment sequence, coupled with a range of plagiarism-proof topics that dissuade students from relying on online cheat sources and recycled papers, will teach students to respect the research process and not plagiarize. She has a two-part definition of plagiarism: source of language plagiarism and source of information plagiarism, both equally important to address and curtail through the proper use of citation systems and explicit instruction in paraphrase. She gives teachers seven tools and steps for identifying plagiarism in their students’ papers, often positioning the students as savvy, lethargic, potential cheats who try to pull one over on the teacher because of their Internet expertise.

Quotable Quotes

“For those of us who are vigilant, we will enter the library as dectectives on the trail of a more intelligent theif” (97), on the importance of checking print-based sources in libraries (like secondary sources, CliffsNotes) for student plagiarism attempts

“Individuality self-destructs in endless mirroring” (111), doesn’t see much good in imitation

“We must begin to teach them how to exert control over the chaos – how to shape and academic argument” (7).

“We have to require the higher level of thinking that is achieved through the simultaneous processes of analysis and synthesis” (6).

The retelling that happens in a book report “is useless for several reasons – foremost among them is that it is a shabby mimicking of the original. No one can write Poe’s ‘The Fall of the Usher’ as well as Poe, nor should another writer attempt to” (4).

“Reporting is a retelling of ideas found; it is not an analysis of ideas found” (1)

“As educators, we must teach students to realize that they are required to have their own insights into source materials. They must engage in a dialogue with the sources they consult. Without this dialogue their research is meaningless and becomes a mere exercise of collecting and organizing” (1)

Notable Notes

absolute binary between research and retelling

works cited only includes one thing from rhet/comp, a article from Written Communication about text/source use and ESL students

one of her plagiarism prevention techniques she dubs “non sequitor approach” – having students turn in copies of online study guides to provide them for comparison with their essays

prescriptive writing process and sequence = freewriting, notetaking, outlining, writing

retelling (summaries) are not, in DeSana’s opinion, objective pieces of writing, not subjective researched positions

focus is on how to teach students to write thesis-driven, argumentative, taking-a-stand research essays

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May 25, 2009

Robillard, We Won’t Get Fooled Again

Robillard, Amy E. “We Won’t Get Fooled Again: On the Absence of Angry Responses to Plagiarism in Composition Studies.” College English 70.1 (Sept 2007): 10-31.

Robillard argues that teachers’ affective response to plagiarized student texts – justified anger – needs to be acknowledged and accepted by the discipline and used as way 1. to tap into a full understanding of plagiarism as a relationship between a writer and a reader and 2. to engage the public in conversations about writing and plagiarism. Teachers surpress their anger because they have conflicting identities as writing teachers: the caring, nuturing, student-centered, critical-pedagogy empowering teacher and the objective expert on writing and the teaching of writing. Plagiarism challenges and threatens this split identity, and the discipline has sought solutions for this problem by finding pedagogical solutions and explanations (patch-writing, summarizing.) Robillard uses teachers’ blogs to show how teachers are expressing their anger outside traditional disciplinary venues.

Quotable Quotes

“Writing teachers become dehumanized, disembodied readers of student work” (28) – what happens when their anger is denied

“We cannot have it both ways; we cannot create an identity dependent on a relationship to students that is emotionally supportive at the same time that we maintain our affectless response to plagiarism or suspected plagiarism” (27).

“To deny anger when students we care about plagiarize is to deny our humanity” (27).

“The absence of disciplinary sponsored anger in response to plagiarism thwarts our efforts to make ourselves heard in public discussions about writing in this country” (13).

“anger as social rather than individual, as political rather than neutral” (17)

“The near erasure of teachers’ anger in composition’s scholarship on plagiarism must be read as symptomatic of a disciplinary discourse that, despite much important research to the contrary, persists in suppressing the role of the reader – here, the embodied reader – in interpreting plagiarized texts” (11)

Notable Notes

the anger somewhat stems from the feeling that you were so close to missing it, to not catching plagiarism (18)

this widespread anxiety leads to an obsession to prevent plagiarism

the public doesn’t respect us (Tucker Carlson on Becky Howard’s plagiarism article) because we don’t seem angry about plagiarism, we shouldn’t keep suppressing this “collective rage” (29)

widespread denial of emotions in the academy

May 20, 2009

Colvin, Another Look at Plagiarism in the Digital Age

Colvin, Benie B. “Another Look at Plagiarism in the Digital Age: Is It Time to Turn in My Badge?” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 35.2 (December 2007) 149-158.

Colvin is uncomfortable with no-tolerance university plagiarism policies that respond punitively before pedagogically. After having a first-generation college student leave the university after she accused him a plagiarism, Colvin revisits how writing teachers approach issues of authorship, plagiarism, patchwriting, and the use of digital technologies. She does not want to abandon Turnitin, but says she will use it now as a tool that will have pedagogical effects, as she can use the results to teach her students to be better readers, researchers, and consumers.

Quotable Quotes

“All I did was reinforce that he was behind the academic fence without a key” (150)

Notable Notes

Harvard case – Blair Hornstine denied admission over plagiarism charges in her high school papers

Brown, Fallon, Matthews, Mintie, Taking on Turnitin

Brown, Renee, Brian Fallon, Elizabeth Matthews, and Elizabeth Mentie. “Taking on Turnitin: Tutors Advocating Change.” The Writing Center Journal 27.1 (2007): 7-28.

These four writing center tutors ran a paper through the Turnitin software and analyzed its results, arguing that Turnitin has both pedagogical limitations and ethical problems in the way it handles student writing.¬† It oversimplifies what it means to write with sources, and students can quickly learn how to “outsmart” Turnitin (but not become more sophisticated source-users) by using thesauruses to change individual words in an Internet source. Writing centers, since they come into contact with writers from all over the university, need to take the lead in plagiarism and citation issues and should argue for teaching citation first and giving workshops so that instuctors can interpret Turnitin results into pedagogical solutions.

Notable Notes

who owns the database of papers that Turnitin uses?

universities find it hard to opt out of Turnitin for a different service…all the student papers are stored there; they’d lose what they had gathered.

Adler-Kassner, Anson, and Howard, Framing Plagiarism

Adler-Kassner, Linda, Chris Anson, and Rebecca Moore Howard. “Framing Plagiarism.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 231-246.

The authors, all current and/or former WPAs who wrote the CWPA statement “Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism”, argue that the current frames used to talk about student plagiarism position students as ignorants, cheats, and theives who are undermining the purposes of education and need to be caught and reformed. They argue for compositionists and writing instructors to look beyond the academic cycle of citation for credit and credibility to see how people compose with sources for other purposes. They use the example of direct borrowing from the language of a FDA statement on safe food handling to show that more public texts, like these author-less statements and policies, are used freely like author-less bits of information. Students exist in multiple activity levels and systems, and so it is important that instruction on source use (not technology-based plagiarism prevention) include critical discussions and examples of how different systems use and compose with sources.

Quotable Quotes

“Many cases of so-called plagiarism occur at the borders where one set of (typically academic) values and practices blurs into another (typically public) set of values and practices” (239).

“All writers are always in a developmental trajectory; writing is always intertextual; a variety of rhetorical and pragmatic forces work against attribution of sources; the use of texts is a complex act that is steeped in the conventions (disciplinary, behavioral, and otherwise) of academe; and the sanctioned academic expectations for attribution are often applied unevenly, even by experienced, ethical writers.” (243)

Notable Notes

example of one university borrowing another’s statement on plagiarism

temptation to use Turnitin and the temptation to buy papers online are both grounded in panic (243)

what is implicitly said when you require all students to “submit” their papers to Turnitin? (242)

Lakoff “frames” – these become naturalized, we need to reframe

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

May 12, 2009

Atkins and Nelson, Plagiarism and the Internet

Atkins, Thomas and Gene Nelson. “Plagiarism and the Internet: Turning the Tables.” The English Journal. 90.4 (March 2001), 101-104.

Atkins and Nelson, two high school teachers, teach at the high school that test piloted Turnitin.com (the creator of the program was an alma mater.) They claim that the software has cut student plagiarism to nearly zero and advocate its use to both prevent plagiarism and to make sure students are getting as good as an education as they could possibly get, one that is in jeopardy if Internet plagiarism goes uncontrolled. They argue that teachers and schools, by using a program like Turnitin, insist on high academic integrity, an expectation that is beneficial to students. Their article gives a sample paper that shows how Turnitin is able to identify passages that were lifted from internet sites and other papers.

Quotable Quotes

“The teacher is the final determiner of whether or not the paper was plagiarized. The program is a tool, albiet a powerful tool, but it is not the final determiner. The teacher, with his or her knowledge, skill, and experience, will make the final decision” (104).

“If students are allowed to use others’ words and ideas as their own, they deny themselves the opportunity to develop writing fluency and critical thinking skills” (104).

The goal of education = “The development of comprehesive skills, powerful understanding, and excellent ethics” (104).

Notable Notes

Turnitin is supposed to be preventative, not punitive

students are in awe of the power of the program, witness its capabilities and then, I suppose, cut out the plagiarism

all of plagiarism – stealing and buying papers, patchwritten text, is treated the same

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