As Russ knows, I don't like to spend time on "plagiarism" in my classes,
and I haven't had much trouble with it lately mainly because my students
are working on individual projects of their choice and I'm involved in
their work at every stage. However, just this past term I had an
astonishing case: a graduate student (!) copied sections from MY article
that was a REQUIRED reading for the course. I asked her why she'd done
it and she said that it was her attempt to put something together to
submit by the (extended) deadline. I asked her to resubmit and she
reworked it-- not brilliantly, but without copying.
Russ Hunt wrote:
>Yes, thanks for raising this issue, Tania.
>It probably won't surprise anybody that I have some responses to
>it. I skimmed the McDermid paper, too, on Tania's
>recommendation, and was struck, as she was, that it ends before
>it gets to the good part.
>But my feeling is that there really is not going to be a good
>part, because there isn't any solution to the problem, at least
>not that involves
>>...carefully designing our rubrics and arguments about
>>evaluation in order to reduce the potential reward for
>>undetected plagiarism and increase the potential reward for
>>honest research writing.
>I'd argue that the problem here is the rewards themselves, and
>that changing the arguments for or conditions around them is
>something we've all thought of, and which hasn't worked for any
>of us. Defining the issue as one of ethics and exhorting people
>to "be good" won't work as long as we've structured the whole
>thing as a game, to be won or lost in order to gain rewards.
>McDermid refers to the purpose of writing as "demonstrating
>knowledge." That, I'd contend, (along with "demonstrating
>skill"), is a rhetorically catastrophic motive for writing, and
>one that promotes a divorcing of the text from any dialogic
>situation. If you have authentic rhetorical motives for writing,
>plagiarism would be beside the point (even the excessively well
>documented examples of scholarly plagiarism are almost all
>wreckage from the tenure and promotion wars, where the point of
>writing is to get published and score points, or to be regarded
>as a Writer).
>I'm not arguing that it's easy to make the rhetorical situations
>of student writers into ones which don't invite plagiarism, but
>I would argue that it's conceivable -- and that constructing a
>rubric for evaluation that will effectively discourage it simply
>>Yet I do wish we could get more field research that would
>>analyze (not just theorize) whether or not certain ways of
>>evaluating writing, and talking to students about our
>>evaluation strategies, really can reduce the motive to
>I'd be interested in such field research, too, but my prediction
>is that if we did it we'd find that the answer is "no," as long
>as what we're focally concerned with is evaluating writing.
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