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MMC  April 2008, Week 1

MMC April 2008, Week 1

Subject:

Plagiarizing an honor code

From:

Matthew Lombard <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Matthew Lombard <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 2 Apr 2008 08:35:36 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (119 lines)

FROM THE MMC LISTSERV:

[From The San Antonio Express-News
(<http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/localcolleges/stories/MYS
A033008.01A.HONORCODE.38a7b45.html>); for a defense of
the role of google and the internet, see
<http://newsbusters.org/blogs/warner-todd-huston/2008/03/31/ap-
plagiarism-consequence-internet>...

--Matthew ]

UTSA students commit sin they're trying to halt

Web Posted: 03/29/2008 11:35 PM CDT
Melissa Ludwig
Express-News


It seemed like an honorable goal: Draft an honor code for
University of Texas at San Antonio students to follow, exhorting
them not to cheat or plagiarize.

But when students threw a draft of the new honor code onto the
Internet for feedback, some noticed a problem: Parts of the code
appeared to have been lifted word for word from another school's
honor code, without attribution. Even the definition of plagiarism
was, well, plagiarized.

Akshay Thusu, the student in charge of the honor code effort,
said it was an oversight, the result of a draft that was crafted five
years ago and passed through different students and faculty
advisers before landing in his lap.

"We believe there might be a citation page," Thusu said. "We are
still looking for it."

But cheating experts say such sloppiness is typical of today's
students, who don't know how to cite sources properly and often
regard the Internet as a cut-and-paste free for all.

"Young people today have a different understanding of what in
the way of ideas and words is property that can be taken without
authorization," said Daniel Wueste, director of the Rutland Center
for Ethics at Clemson University in South Carolina, which also
houses the Center for Academic Integrity. "That's the
consequence of the Internet and the availability of things. It
doesn't feel like what would be in a book. You Google it and here
it comes."

John Barrie, co-founder of Turnitin.com, agreed.

Barrie's company screens more than 125,000 student papers a
day, checking them against Internet sources, traditional library
journals and a database of 50 million student term papers - the
granddaddy of all frat house cheat files.

About 30 percent of the papers are "less than original," Barrie
said. Over half of the cheating hits come from the Internet, the
other half from student papers and about 1 percent from the stuff
you might find in a library, he said.

The No. 1 source is Wikipedia.org, an online reference where any
user can write and edit entries.

"You tell me, is that a scary trend?" Barrie said.

Though Barrie's statistics seem alarming, he doesn't believe there
is a wave of cheating washing over society. Students always have
cheated. The problem today is that many kids just don't
understand how to do proper research and citation, he said.

"If you talk to them about doing research, they say, 'If I copy from
a newspaper or magazine, it is plagiarism, but from Wikipedia, it
is research,'" Barrie said.

Thusu, a native of India, said he understands proper citation. He
took over the honor code alliance one month ago and inherited
the pilfered draft from students who came before him.

He did some digging and found a group of students attended a
conference in 2003 put on by the Center for Academic Integrity.
Materials from the conference - which are used by many
universities - likely were the main source for UTSA's draft,
Thusu said.

That's probably why it appeared that parts of the UTSA draft
matched word for word the online honors code at Brigham Young
University in Provo, Utah. The difference is that BYU credited the
Center for Academic Integrity. UTSA didn't.

But that will change, Thusu said. The honor code that goes to the
faculty senate for approval will include proper citation, he said.

"We don't want to have an honor code that is stolen," Thusu said.

--
Matthew Lombard, Ph.D.
Temple University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(215) 204-7182
[log in to unmask]
http://matthewlombard.com

_____________________________________________
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for students, faculty, alumnae/i, and
friends of the Mass Media & Communication
doctoral program at Temple University
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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the web at <http://www.temple.edu/mmc/>.

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