Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at
Fri May 16 15:11:31 EDT 2003

On Fri, 16 May 2003, Robyn Starkey wrote:

> I agree that a lot of students arrive at college woefully ignorant about
> research and documentation. I teach composition, and I spend a lot of time
> in class explaining how and why we document. This is why I am then really
> tough on plagiarisers. If I spend 3 or 4 classes talking about these issues
> and working with them on understanding them, I am not at all open to the
> "didn't understand what to do" excuse.

	Yeah, it does take a lot of their excuses away! I think that all
any students of mine have had from the Powers That Be is a coloured
photocopy with the Official University Definition of plagiarism in
boldface & a notice that if they indulge in any of these behaviours we
reserve the right to have their guts for garters... And those examples you
gave were truly hair raising, I can tell you if anyone tried to pull
anything that blatant & defiant on me, I'd be on the phone to the Higher
Authorities ASAP. But I've never had a budding plagiarist who was anything
other than penitent & horrified once I had explained what they had done &
why it was wrong & I've never had to deal with it in a context where I had
no legal room for leniency, if I felt leniency was called for, so I've
never felt the need to send them off for Formal University Sanctions...

	... And plagiarism *is* a complex concept and does require a bit
of application to understand, though to my mind copyright violation is
even more of a minefield because the principles are so unclear and they
keep changing#. There was a time a few years ago when my college was
invaded by the Copyright Licensing Authority who literally cordoned off
*all* our photocopiers for *months* & had agents take copies of the first
pages of anything anyone copied. It was surreal & it had serious
consequences. There were a lot of things that just had to be dropped from
courses because the lawyers just couldn't figure out what it was legal to
teach & what it wasn't. I'm (supposed to be :-) in the middle of updating
a course syllabus now so all the horrors of that time are fresh in my
mind... the situation is much more sane now, I understand. Though I still
don't totally understand what the situation is!


#so, you know, everything I wrote in that last email about copyright &
stories about pictures is just an educated guess. I'm no lawyer &
copyright law especially makes my head hurt...

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