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What did I do wrong?”a project to support independent learning practices to avoid plagiarism.


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A presentation by Helen Hathaway, Liaison Team Manager Science and Information Skills Coordinator, University of Reading Library given at the ALISS 2013 summer conference

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What did I do wrong?”a project to support independent learning practices to avoid plagiarism.

  1. 1. © University of Reading 2010 Library ‘What did I do wrong?’ Supporting independent learning practices to avoid plagiarism Helen Hathaway Information Skills Co-ordinator, University Teaching Fellow
  2. 2. ‘What did I do wrong?’ • Introduction to project • Rationale and aims • Project team: Library, Study Advice, ISLC Helen Hathaway Kim Shahabudin Clare Nukui Liz Wilding Rhianedd Smith
  3. 3. Background and scope • Funding • Three projects into one • Timing! Started September 2012, finish June 2013 – Interim report Dec 2012 – Research report • What have we done?
  4. 4. Supporting research • As researchers • Developing researchers of the future – This project – Every day too Copyright Science Photo Library
  5. 5. What do others think? We carried out research… …with Library staff …with students …with academics …with learning developers …on Turnitin “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” Albert Einstein
  6. 6. Library staff views • ‚The most frequent query I get is about citing webpages or documents found on the web. Sometimes they aren’t suitable sources though, so I have to try to steer them to something better!‛ • ‚Most of my enquiries from students come from opposite ends of the spectrum: 1) The students who have had a piece of work back saying they haven’t referenced properly or who know that they have no idea about referencing 2) The student who’s sorted most of their references and has an unusual type of material to reference‛ • ‚A lot of the students that I deal with are overseas and tend to get the plagiarism warnings piled on to them big style so I tend to recommend it as a way of avoiding charges of plagiarism.‛
  7. 7. Put yourself in a student’s shoes… ‚How should I reference an App, a packet of crisps, a practical protocol?‛ ‚How many sources should I use?‛ ‚I know what a reference is – but what’s a citation?‛ ‚Why does this tutor want a different referencing style from that one?‛ ‚Do I need a reference list AND a bibliography?‛ ‚Will I be marked down for missing a comma?‛ ‚I have a misconduct interview: what happens now?‛ Copyright Photolibrary
  8. 8. Student comments • ‚Did referencing at school so don’t need to learn it again.‛ • ‚Didn’t do referencing at school – was totally lost when I got here.‛ • ‚One tutor wants me to reference like this, the others want me to do it differently – I don’t understand why.‛ • ‚I got my referencing wrong in my first year and my tutor took me on one side and told me to be more careful next time. Got it wrong in the 2nd year and suddenly it was all regulations and zero marks.‛ • ‚Referencing is just something you have to do, otherwise you lose marks.‛ • ‚I ran out of time, and decided I’d lose fewer marks for not checking my references than for handing in late. I got zero.‛
  9. 9. Surveyed School Directors of teaching and learning • Advice and guidance on finding appropriate academic sources of info • Referencing principles and practice • Feedback – when and how • How important for Part 1, Part 2, Masters • What are the reasons for incorrect referencing • What is your response • Current strategies effective or not • Additional resources you would like?
  10. 10. Feedback from academics • ‚Inadvertent plagiarism' is usually explained by people being under pressure.‛ • ‚Plagiarism can be less of a problem on modules where assignments are designed to force students to think independently.‛ • ‚Anecdotally it seems that anxiety about referencing is seen more with dissertations. ‚ • ‚Students can focus disproportionately on micro-details like p/pp.‛ • ‚There is a growing problem with students in English Literature referencing e-books. ‚ • ‚International students may have been to a vast range of different types of colleges and universities and it is very hard to know what training and information they've been given in the past.‛
  11. 11. Turnitin Survey of School Directors of Teaching and Learning and School E- learning Co-ordinators….and others Does Turnitin help with academic practice/ referencing? Results evenly balanced • ‚Definitely worth using Turnitin formatively, but does require sufficient time - students often need more practice in note-taking etc.‛ • ‚personally I haven't detected any significant decline in poor academic practice‛ • ‚Turnitin is not necessarily reliable. It often fails to detect plagiarism. However it helps to sensitise students of good academic conventions.‛
  12. 12. Utilising alternative perspectives?
  13. 13. How is it taught now? identifying gaps At Reading… At other institutions…
  14. 14. What have we developed? • ‘Toolkit’ of bite-sezed re-purposable resources (launched) • Aimed at academics to use with their students • Stored in Blackboard Organisation • Example: How to précis and paraphrase Handout Slides Screencast
  15. 15. How did we get on together? Good • input from people working in different roles • access to different strategic issues • differing relationships with students and academics • paid project workers Bad • speed of decision making • getting together at the same time! • differing aspirations for the project • different structures of services/depts. No ugly! Copyright Getty Images
  16. 16. Results of research • Crucial to go beyond formatting and show role of correct referencing in academic writing • Many students fail to engage with skills teaching • Students report lack of consistency and difficulty in finding guidance • Implications of alternative academic cultures and experiences Non-attributed – 1 hour looking for it on Flickr
  17. 17. Recommendations • Pre-entry information and compulsory self-test? • Student facing resource(s) • Some suggestions on effective BUT that’s another story 1974/5, Mendoza, Private collection, Bridgeman Education