Revolution Lullabye

April 16, 2015

Sutherland-Smith, Retribution, Deterrence and Reform: The Dilemmas of Plagiarism Management in Universities

Sutherland-Smith, Wendy. “Retribution, Deterrence and Reform: The Dilemmas of Plagiarism Management in Universities.”¬†Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 31.1 (6 January 2010): 5-16. Print.

Sutherland-Smith argues for “sustainable reform” in how universities create and implement plagiarism policies (13). Sutherland-Smith contends that the dominant discourse in current university plagiarism statements and policies is grounded in the metaphors and language of criminal law. She points out that plagiarism is an issue that cannot only be addressed through detection and punishment; pedagogy (how students use sources) and ethics (the relationship among students, faculty, and scholars) also must play a role in how universities discuss and manage plagiarism.

Sutherland-Smith’s argument¬†is grounded in her analysis of 18 plagiarism statements from top-tier universities in Australia, the UK, and the US. Sutherland-Smith analyzed the language used in these statements to define plagiarism, to describe the policies and procedures surrounding cases of plagiarism, and to explain the outcomes of the plagiarism procedure (7). Sutherland-Smith also analyzed 164 media reports about plagiarism published in two major Australian newspapers from 2004 to 2008. The media reports were used in Sutherland-Smith’s argument to describe what the public perception of plagiarism is, and how that perception relates to how universities describe and explain their plagiarism polices and procedures.

Sutherland-Smith points out that if universities hold students responsible for citation, universities must provide training/professional development for faculty across the disciplines for how to teach citation and other source use issues around plagiarism. This training, Sutherland-Smith argues, extends to all faculty, full-time and part-time, and is essential for creating and maintaining consistent policies and expectations , such as the use of plagiarism-detection software (9).

Quotable Quotes

“Universities need to re-examine long-held views that increasing punishment and detection processes results in deterrence of plagiarism and therefore a decrease in its appearance. The equation is faulty, as deterring students from engaging in acts of plagiarism does not necessarily mean they will take a path of academic integrity” (12).

“Focusing on developing plagiarism management strategies grounded in the web of ethical relationships that constitute the living organism of the university is a responsible place to start” (13).

“Clearly, the discourse of criminal law is the mainstay of many universities’ framing of plagiarism management policies and processes” (8).

“The very discourse describing students as plagiarism ‘offenders’ positions them as ‘wrongdoers’ even before any allegations are proven, which could cause some students considerable anxiety” (8).

“Universities also place the burden of understanding plagiarism and attribution conventions on students” (9).

“The discourse describing plagiarism incidents is often charged with emotion, closely aligned to the language of criminal law and reflects nations of retribution and punishment” (10) – the language of media/news reports. use of moral/immoral terms, panic about a plagiarism epidemic, linking and slippage between the terms plagiarism and cheating, blaming Internet/online source use for a unproven rise in plagiarism (10, 11)

Scholarship has shown that plagiarism “is certainly neither rampant nor unstoppable” (11).

Notable Notes

words used in university policies and procedures that relate to criminal law: penalties, sanctions, offender, accused. “Highly formal register” = legal language (8)

in these policies, there is ample language for penalty and punishment; not for reform and rehabilitation

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