> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: April 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ape: to copy or mimic, often with absurd or amusing results.

I am marking research papers this weekend. Or at least I am trying to, in between peaceful moments reflecting (see above) and frantic moments planning an enormous Sunday lunch.

Here’s what is worrying me – plagiarism. I have got at least one paper which is full of 'cut and paste' – and I have my suspicions about one or two others. What I am beginning to realize is that some of my students do not actually think they are doing anything wrong.

The information is so readily available, the phrasing so apt, and the point made so succinctly, that they just can’t resist it. More worrying are the students who have not ‘cut and paste’ but have simply changed the text a little. I probably won’t be able to find their stuff on the web, and therefore they will go unchallenged.

How can I teach my students to be more rigorous in their use of sources? How can I explain to them what plagiarism actually is, and why it might be wrong?

We really do live in ‘the information age’. There is so much on the internet that we can use without asking anyone. In the last hour for example, I downloaded some recipes whilst planning my Easter lunch and bookmarked a dozen pages for my own use as a teacher.

I also want to help students evaluate the sources that they use. I am collecting a few sites that explain how to do this. The first one I want to recommend is The Internet Detective. If you have found a website which explains plagiarism in a student friendly fashion, or guides students through the complexities of evaluating a source, please let me know.

I am also interested in how early we need to teach students how to cite sources.