Thursday, March 05, 2009

NVCC-Annandale Plagiarism Workshop

Plagiarism and Computers -- Fun Ways to Take Control of the Issue

A Bedford/St. Martin's Workshop for the Northern Virginia Community College -- Annandale

A plagiarism tip from Barclay Barrios, writing in the BITs Blog:

You can take this tip and do a lot with case studies of people whom, if not brought low by plagiarism, suffered a reputation hit: Doris Kearns Goodwin, for example. But also, there are probably cases too of people wrongly accused of plagiarism. What's the flip side of the issue? How should students prepare and what should they do to show they did not plagiarize? What safe guards can they take and what good writing habits should they learn and follow? The site's a hoot, and it's funny. And it's also a useful teaching tool, worth showing in class if you can do it, or sending students to look at and write about it for a class discussion on doing one's own work.

What is good about this piece? What does it make fun of? How can you use it jump-start a discussion with your students? leads to "Adventures in Cheating," by Seth Stevenson, a piece that samples term paper mills, and finds --no surprise-- that you get what you pay for (and even that ain't much). I wrote a response to this piece, which again, I find useful for teaching, that began, "Essentially, the free papers stink, and they're recycled. That is, free paper mill sites often carry copies of the same papers."

After having students read Stevenson's essay, do what Kelly Ritter of Southern Ct. State U. had her students do: have them find and then analyze and review a term paper mill site. Have them sample and analyze the papers. What are the sites intellectual property and copyright policies? What do the the sites say about plagiarism and being for 'research'? goes to the Bedford/St. Martin's Plagiarism workshop site. This is a faculty resource where you'll find useful handouts, teaching tips, and reviews of plagiarism detection tools.
After reading Robert Harris's book, The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism (2001, from Pyrczak Publishing); an article on the role of honor codes by Robert Boynton in the Washington Post; and thinking about the many plagiarism discussions that have come up on professional listservs I participate on such as WPA, TechRhet, WCenter, it occurred to me that the first place to begin a better discussion with my students on plagiarism is in my own syllabus. talkingplagy.htm lays out what I use to start the conversation.

See --and add your own contributions to-- CompFAQ's collection of resources at

CompFAQ lets composition instructors contribute their own ideas and resources to the composition community. It doesn't take long to add something.