Thwarting Plagiarism

I spent the past school year grading for a local high school, and one of their major concerns was teaching the students not to plagiarize from their sources. When I was in school, we were told to cite every single quote and paraphrase. Somehow, that bit of wisdom has not been passed on to younger generations.

In an age where file sharing and internet research abound, somehow we’re failing students by not introducing them to the concept of plagiarism. Those who figure it out when they’re hit with a copyright infringement complaint then get themselves into further trouble by misapplying what they’ve learned.

It doesn’t help when we have opposite forces at work in this country: those who want to see their work derived from, and those who are afraid their meal ticket will vanish or want to make money off the derivative works (let’s face it, that’s what this debate largely comes down to). Thank goodness for organizations like Creative Commons, right?

Somehow, I’ve fallen off-track. The point is that students need to be taught how to credit properly when they borrow someone else’s words to make their point. They need to understand that this is both respectful to the original source, and it gives them a way to find what they used should they need to. In a sense, it’s not entirely unlike creating a link back to an original article in a web post.

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