Plagiarism

A few weeks ago, I attended a plagiarism workshop as extra credit for my Behavioral Research Methods class. While I’m willing to bet that most people there went for extra credit or mandatory credit for a class; I actually learned very important aspects of plagiarism I was unaware of. The presentation began with sharing that one of the main reasons that students plagiarize is that they don’t truly understand what plagiarism is. Everyone knows that if you literally copy and paste an article from a website and then hand it into your teacher claiming you wrote it, then that’s plagiarism. However, what was emphasized in this presentation was “stealing ideas.” Plagiarism isn’t only copying and pasting; it can also be using findings from someone else’s research or using someone else’s idea. You don’t even have to claim it is your own; if you fail to cite where you got the information or idea from then that’s plagiarism. The presentation also greatly emphasized “Switch Plagiarism.” This is when one basically copies a sentence or paragraph; however, to make it different students switch the order of the words or use synonyms for certain words and the new sentence is similarly structured to the old one.

Dr. McCoy often stresses giving credit where credit is due, and this presentation reinforced that. It was a little out of the ordinary when on the first day of class Dr. McCoy made us all memories each other’s names. No other teacher I’ve had has made the students know each other’s names, and many don’t even know the names of their students. Learning the names of my fellow classmates not only creates a more comfortable atmosphere for class discussions; it also allows us to give each other credit for ideas. Last semester I had a teacher who called one student in the class “surfer dude” because he had long blonde hair. It wasn’t even a large lecture class. I can understand that professors have many students; however, if he didn’t even respect that student enough to simply ask for his name how could he ask for respect in return?

Crediting other people is a responsibility we all have in order to respect them. The plagiarism presentation suggested that one way to overcome plagiarism is: instead of looking at the passage while you try to summarize it; read the passage you’re referring to, put the passage away and then write about the main idea in your own words.  Part 1 of They Say I Say stresses the “They Say” part of writing; it specifically explains the “art of summarizing” another person’s work.  It claims that “a good summary requires balancing what the original author is saying with the writer’s own focus.” In other words, one needs to ensure that they have enough of their own voice while still presenting another’s argument. This connects to plagiarism because we need to remember that the goal of using quotes and another’s work is to enhance one’s own writing, rather than using those as a substitute.

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