Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Plagiarism Lines Blur For Students In Digital Age

Article: Plagiarism Lines Blur For Students In Digital Age
Publication: New York Times
Author: Trip Gabriel
Date: August 1, 2010
Summarized by: Joseph Levis, Reference & Instruction Librarian

New technology has altered college students views of authorship, both in terms of what they actually write and how they consider what others have written. A tricky area when it comes to issues of plagiarism is unattributed documents on the internet. Just because students finds material on a web page or Wikipedia doesn’t mean they can just copy and paste it as if it was their own work, but there have been notable instances of this very thing happening. The worst part is that students continue to do this even when they've been made aware that its wrong.

One thought is that because students no longer go to a physical library to access information - and find reference sources mostly through their computer - they treat it like everything else they find on the internet, such as ‘free’ MP3s and ‘free’ movies. Why wouldn’t they just steal text as well? Separate but related is the idea that current college students, who may be less individualistic than those from previous generations, indulge in “mixing and matching,” similar to the way that a TV show or a pop song might appropriate snippets of other similar works without giving direct credit. However, others offer a simpler theory, which is that some students are just unprepared for the rigors of college writing.