TESOL 2006: Plagiarism

Plagiarism was a hot topic at TESOL 2006 with presenters giving strategies for preventing it and quite a few resources online. From Joel Bloch at The Ohio State University is a site with a tutorial and lessons for students and a link to the journal Plagiary. Thomas Leverett of Southern Illinois University and Laurie Moody of Passaic County Community College posted their presentation "Internet Plagiarism: an esl/efl learning experience," which has suggestions for dealing with Internet plagiarism. Gail Fensom, University of New Hampshire-Manchester, provided a bibliography and online resources, a few of which are:

"Avoiding Plagiarism: Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)"
Turn-it-in's "Plagiarism.org" site
Robert Harris's "Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers."

And for those students who need help in learning to paraphrase, there is Arizona State University's site "Paraphrasing".

One quotation from Robert Harris (I believe it was in Fensom's handout) is on target:

In my experience, other than the whole paper or paragraph-after-paragraph type of plagiarism, much plagiarism occurs through the student's lack of understanding about how to quote, paraphrase, and cite sources. Many students simply do not know what they are doing. Providing them with clear instruction about plagiarism and how to avoidit will help reduce the amount you see.

Parallel to Harris, a few years ago, comments of mine on the TESL-L listserv on plagiarism were posted on the ESL MiniConference NewsLetter. In brief, my point was that plagiarism is a cultural phenomenon, not a moral issue. Thus, in addition to doing exercises related to plagiarism, it would be helpful for our students to investigate the warrants and values that lie behind various contexts and situations (e.g., how having a ghost writer is not considered plagiairism, and so on), so that they can understand better the construct of plagiarism as perceived through academic and other lenses.