Standards for the 21st Century Learner1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context1.1.8 Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.1.2.2 Demonstrate conﬁdence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information.1.2.3 Demonstrate creativity by using multiple resources and formats.1.2.4 Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information. 1.2.5 Demonstrate adaptability by changing the inquiry focus, questions, resources, or strategies when necessary to achieve success.1.3.1 Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers.1.3.2 Seek divergent perspectives during information gathering and assessment.1.3.3 Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information.1.3.4 Contribute to the exchange of ideas within the learning community. 1.3.5 Use information technology responsibly.2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.2.2.4 Demonstrate personal productivity by completing products to express learning.2.3.3 Use valid information and reasoned conclusions to make ethical decisions.3.3.7 Respect the principles of intellectual freedom.3.4.2 Assess the quality and eﬀectiveness of the learning product.4.3.4 Practice safe and ethical behaviors in personal electronic communication and interaction.
Plagiarism has been a problem in schools for a long time, but what exactly is plagiarism? Plagiarism can manifest itself in lots of different ways, but the most common definition of plagiarism would be “theft and lying – using information that doesn’t belong to you and passing it off as your own” (Brandt). This would include finding papers on the internet and turning them in as your own, or copying quotes off of the internet or out of a book without citing those sources.
D. Scott Brandt put it this way. Plagiarism is “literally taking someone else’s words (such as by cutting and pasting) without giving credit to the originator” (Brandt). Brandt also says that plagiarism can also be caused by citing sources that weren’t used or taking someone’s ideas (such as an outline, analysis, etc) without giving credit. These are two of the major types of plagiarism. Citing too much usually comes from someone citing books found in a reference book, without ever using the actual book cited (Brandt). Brandt puts it in simple terms “you must use a source you cite.” It’s a simple way of putting it so students will hopefully remember that they have to USE the source they cite.
Students who plagiarize have lots of things to say about it. In Kathy Lehman’s article “Stemming the Tide of Plagiarism: One Educator’s View,” she quotes many students on why students plagiarize.“They just want the grade for completion and turning it in on time.”“I think the main reason students cheat is that most students are lazy. They wait to the last second to do their work and the only way to get it done is to get it from another source.”“Cheating is seen as the easy way out in many aspects and students love to make things easier for themselves.”“Using the things around us to get something done is NOT cheating.”“Technology and other sources have provided so much information that it takes less effort to cheat than it does to actually do the assignment and learn from it.”But what do those students who work hard for their grades have to say? They don’t have as kind of a response as the others.“Cheating can become an extremely aggravating situation for students who honestly put forth effort needed to do well in their classes. When I see students cheating and receiving grades similar to mine, it really gets me. While I’m spending hours studying terms and theories of psychology, they’re off having fun and getting the same grades as me.”Plagiarism isn’t only harmful to the students who plagiarize. It’s also harmful to the students who work hard for those good grades. Students who work hard but get surpassed by students who plagiarize are shown that it pays to plagiarize.
Why do students plagiarize? Sara Mitchell has five reasons that students plagiarize.“1) Many students are interested in the shortest possible route through a course.2) Students put off what they deem to be low priority.3) Many students have poor time management skills or are just procrastinators.4) Some students fear that their writing ability is inadequate.5) A few students like the thrill of rule breaking.”These reasons are important to keep in mind. Some students plagiarize because they are so busy with extracurricular activities that they don’t leave themselves time to work on their homework. Some students just don’t care about school. And yet some students just want to break the rules. Knowing why students plagiarize can teach us how to teach them.
Who is most likely to plagiarize?Deborah Straw’s article in “Community College Week in July 2002 mentions trends found in a UCML study. Those trends included students with low GPAs, younger students, students in fraternities or sororities, students who party a lot, and students who are involved in several outside activities (Straw).While these trends can help us be prepared for which students might plagiarize, students will not always fall into these categories. Anyone can plagiarize, and most have plagiarized either intentionally or accidentally at least once.
With the advent of technology and the internet, plagiarism is much easier to do. As the article “Online Tool Helps Universities, Colleges Fight Plagiarism,” found in “Community College Week” in January 2003 says plagiarism “[has] become much easier with the internet because a student can just highlight and copy digitized text.”This is such a true statement. Not only can students copy and paste text straight from a website, they can find entire papers from websites such as schoolsucks.com (Brandt). Students have many sources on the internet that they can just grab their information from, not knowing who wrote it and if it is copyrighted.Kathy Lehman states “as educators, our task is to guide them to use this technology to become master researchers and to instill in them a determination not to be satisfied until they find the best sources” (Lehman). Remembering this statement is important to educators. It is our goal to guide students to the best of our abilities.
Another trend that has emerged with the advent of the Internet is the rise of plagiarism. Plagiarism has risen exponentially in the last 20 years. Deborah Straw says in her article that “in another recent study of high school students performed by Duke University, 97 percent admitted to plagiarizing or cheating at least once.” She also says that cheating on the California – Berkeley campus rose 774 percent between 1993 and 1997 (Straw). That is a huge increase in only four years!Tricia Cowen’s article “Your work, Or the Web’s?” states that “the growing nonchalance about the practice (plagiarism) suggests that schools face an uphill battle in encouraging students to take plagiarism seriously.” As teachers and librarians, it is our job to attempt to stem the tide of plagiarism. The next slides will talk about what to teach, sources to help teach, and ways to better help students understand the severity of plagiarism. In fact, 77 percent of students don’t think plagiarism is a big issue (Gilmore).
Where do we begin our quest to teach about plagiarism? Since plagiarism is so pervasive in our society, it is important to start young. Sara Mitchell says that in the primary grades, we must begin discussing intellectual property (Mitchell). She also says that by first or second grade, students should know what plagiarism is and that it is wrong (Mitchell).Kathy Lehman also suggests that we should break research into separate assignments, so students don’t get overwhelmed with the assignment. If they are broken up into smaller segments, students are not able to put off the entire project until the very end. Lehman also suggests that we should create detailed rubrics for assignments, so students have no doubts of what is required of them (Lehman). Lehman also states that “constant monitoring by the teacher is the most important factor” (Lehman).
The internet doesn’t have to simply be a hindrance. The internet can be a great help for research projects. As educators, it is our goal to teach students how to use this source effectively. One way I used the internet for school was to get a basis of information about a subject, to see if I even wanted to pursue it. Once I had narrowed down the subject, I went to better sources. But, the internet was a great starting point.Once we teach students how to use the internet to their best ability, it can be a great tool for their learning.
One way the internet can be a huge help is through websites such as www.turnitin.com. This website is a great tool for educators to check plagiarism. With this tool, students submit their assignments online. The teacher then gets a report showing how much of it has been plagiarized. While there will be some overlap with quotes, students should not have a high degree of similarity with other works. The great thing about this site is that “the text is automatically run through the database and Web search engines” (Trotter). Trotter also states that “Turnitin.com flags every match of eight consecutive words or more” (Trotter). Turnitin.com’s website says they have an originality check, a grademark, and a peermark where teachers and peers can all comment on a student’s work. They check papers against over 20 billion web pages and 220 million student papers and library databases. Their site also says “Turnitin improves the student writing cycle by preventing plagiarism and providing rich feedback to students.”
Not only are there websites such as Turnitin.com, there are downloadable programs such as Eve2. Eve2 “flags essays in which at least three consecutive sentences show a high degree of similarity, even if they are not exact matches” (Trotter). While this doesn’t match exact wording, this program could be more useful than Turnitin.com, since it searches for similarities rather than exact matches. This program matches submissions against the company’s computer server against extracts of papers from cheat sites and from internet search engines (Trotter).
Although there are so many high-tech gadgets out there to detect plagiarism, there are also the old stand-bys. Deborah Straw mentions in her article a book titled “The Plagiarism Handbook” by Robert Harris (2001) (Straw). Andrew Trotter also mentions some low-tech plagiarism-catching aids in his article. He quotes Betsy A. Fitzgerald “I’d like to think that in 30 years of teaching, I can pick it up… I spend a lot of time working on the thesis statement. Once a kid has a sense of their argument, some of the plagiarism issues go away.” She also is quoted saying about essays from the internet “If I start seeing hiccups in the paper, I get suspicious immediately” (Trotter).Even though there are so many ways for teachers to use technology to help catch plagiarism, sometimes there’s nothing better than finding it for yourself. Only you, as the teacher or librarian, can tell if there is something off about your student’s writing.
One way to help students learn how to cite is by using citation machines. While this won’t teach students the proper way to cite sources on their own, it can hopefully give students some initiative to at least cite their sources.Some of these helpful tools are:www.citationmachine.netwww.easybib.comwww.makecitation.comwww.noodletools.comwww.bibme.orgI am sure there are more that I have yet to discover. These tools are all ways to encourage students to cite their sources, and to stem the tide of plagiarism.
What can the librarian do?D. Scott Brandt mentions several ways that librarians can help prevent plagiarism.Clearly define what plagiarism is. Discuss how it can vary and how it happens.Show examples. Show them sites that can help.Describe the consequences and give them examples.Promote its prevention.Discuss it. (Brandt).Brandt’s ideas are great for librarians to focus on. We should not leave the teaching about plagiarism to the teachers. The librarian needs to advocate the prevention of plagiarism just as much, if not more than teachers do.
When there are rules and policies, what good do they do if no one knows what they are? Students need to know what the rules about plagiarism are. They need to know the consequences if they break those rules. Kathy Lehman states “we have to catch the cheaters and enforce penalties with specific consequences to deter them” (Lehman).Tricia Cowen also says “clear expectations and consequences tend to diminish the number of offenses” (Cowen).Even Deborah Straw has her ideas. “Teacher should also share the college’s (or high school’s) dishonesty policy and should go over the definition of plagiarism. Students should know the consequences of cheating or plagiarizing. Often, the policy, put in concrete terms, scares them enough to avoid dishonesty.It doesn’t take much to teach students about plagiarism. Really just a class period or two, then a few minutes every day with a quick reminder.
There are many way to teach students about plagiarism. Unfortunately, not all plans work all of the time. Plagiarism.org even gives some educational advice.become aware of the reasons plagiarism occursidentify the different forms of plagiarismintegrate plagiarism prevention techniques into your courses(plagiarism.org)Kathy Lehman also has several solutions. Subscribe to a plagiarism checking subscription service such as Turnitin.com, constant monitoring by the teacher, and talk about it. Teachers should not be afraid to talk about plagiarism with their students. In fact, it should be a common discussion (Lehman).