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(The irony)

Why is plagiarism such an important issue? As sources of information become more readily accessible, the issue of plagiarism has become a widespread concern. The topic is important not only in a college setting. Here is a link with recent articles on historians and plagiarismThe same issues are important in scientific writing and research.

What techniques have you learned to help you NOT plagiarize? For example, how do you take notes as you research your topic? You may already have found that the way you take notes makes a difference. It’s not just a matter of writing down what you read but of rephrasing the notes in your own words as you go along. Tell us what works best for you.

As professors, our goal and our responsibility is to fairly assess what you have learned and to ascertain what knowledge you have been able to make your own. In this course, you demonstrate what you understand by expressing it in writing, both formally in activities such as the final project, as well as in less formal assignments, such as discussions. When students plagiarize or even quote excessively from other sources, all we can tell is that you are able to find the information. We have no indication of what you actually understand. Why is this important?

Sometimes we will ask a question this way: “Explain photosynthesis as you would to a fellow gardener who has no science background.” Does this approach help you minimize quoting or avoid coming too close to the wording in the text? Do you find it very hard to put scientific information in your own words and worry that you won’t sound scientific enough? Offer suggestions to your classmates about ways to learn how to restate information in your own words.

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