Plagiarism Intervention

Are your students teetering on the edge of an "F" (or worse) because of unintentional plagiarism?  This could result from the following activities:


-- Copying and pasting from published soources without attribution;


-- Blending references without providing attribution, or proper citations;


-- Stringing together block quotes without providing synthesizing statements and/or analysis;


-- Incorrectly citing sources, or passing off other people's ideas without giving proper credit.


 Flying off in the wrong direction?  Feel out of control?  Help is on its way!! Here are two strategies to try to help wean oneself away from unintentional plagiarism.
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Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.                                             
(c) susan smith nash, 2004

Strategy 1:  Something to Write Home About

Write a letter to your mom, wife, son, or daughter about the fantastic things you've found out about your topic.  Write in first person, and devote a paragraph on each.  Please be as informal as possible, and say everything in your own words.  An example might be vegans and veganism.

  • Your topic:  What is it?  Why does it appeal to you?

  • Where did you find out about it? 

  • What are the main ideas and/or concepts and beliefs that characterize this topic?

  • What are the underlying concepts?  Who says so?

  • What is the impact of this concept in the world we live in?  Have you seen it in action?  Where?

  • Would you try it?  Why or why not?

  • Final thoughts, recommendations, and reactions for mom (or other family member).

Strategy 2:  Knowing About This Changed My Life!

Write about the topic as though you were scripting a movie or a television show.  Describe scenes, find case studies.  Think of reality TV.  You may mix first person and third person.  Describe the scenes in third person, provide your own opinions and commentary in first person.  An example might be animal activism and the activities of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

  • Dramatic illustrative scene (very cinematic):  describe a scene of with the belief or practice in action.

  • Step back and describe it.  What is it?  What is happening?  What are the main ideas or concepts being explored?  Define and describe it.

  • Case Study 1:  Pick out an example of this.  Describe it.  Where did it take place?  Who was involved? When?  What happened?  Provide your own opinions, too.  Do you agree?  Disagree?

  • Case Study 2:  Find another example.  Be sure that it is different from the first, so that it illustrates other aspects of the issue.  Describe it.  Where did it take place?  Who was involved? When?  What happened?  Provide your own opinions, too.  Do you agree?  Disagree?

  • Discussion & Devil's Advocate Corner:  What is most controversial about this topic?  What is most appealing to you?  Would you or could you ever feel passionate about this topic? 

  • How did knowing about this change your life?  Final thoughts, conclusions, recommendations.