- The Plagiarism Plague: A Resource Guide and CD-ROM Tutorial for Educators and Librarians
Surveying the library catalog of a state university system reveals that over half of the book titles assigned the subject heading of "plagiarism" were published within the last ten years, while the oldest title [End Page 281] dates back to 1757. It should also be noted that only a few of the book records included the broader concept of academic integrity. This new volume's title aptly illustrates that there is, at least, a fear of rising occurrences of plagiarism. This increased interest in the issue of plagiarism in student writing and professional scholarship is said to correspond to the growth of the Internet and contemporary technologies. As academic institutions, administration, and faculty continue to focus on the subject of plagiarism, curbing plagiarism, and catching suspected plagiarists, it is our responsibility to arm students with the tools necessary to produce scholarship that does not venture into these realms.
Plagiarism is a complex issue that often demands a one-stop answer in many institutions because of limited resources. This work promises to give the personal advice of its authors on the breadth of the issues involved in plagiarism detection and prevention. Though in some ways successful, this approach of trying to be everything to everyone in one volume unfortunately means that both expertise and depth are unevenly applied.
Librarians, faculty, judicial boards, and administrators charged with reviewing or drafting an academic integrity or plagiarism policy would find Dolores Pfeuffer-Scherer's chapter helpful because of its countless examples of various policy provisions and clauses. In another chapter, Dr. Robert E. Wood illustrates an enthusiastic effort to promote consistency in addressing plagiarism and student honesty across an academic department. Unfortunately, it was not possible for him to ascertain the direct impact of these departmental efforts on the occurrence of student plagiarism.
Two other works in this volume were of particular interest. The first, by Laura B. Spencer, questions the concept of originality in student writing and of plagiarism in visual images, product labels, and spatial organization. Though not applicable to all academic disciplines, her exploration illustrates the complexities inherent in identifying completely original expression. Robert Lacke and Michelle D'Angelo Long present an opinionated chapter in which they caution about an over-reliance on "patchwriting" when teaching English as a Second Language to students and offer specific suggestions for curricular changes. Acknowledging that the concept of intellectual property is culturally based, readers should approach this chapter cautiously and in doing so will find a challenging discussion helpful in bridging the gap between language development, knowledge development, and a student's ability to identify when it is appropriate to credit another author.
The CD-ROM accompanying the text provides helpful short cuts to the many Web links discussed or cited as references throughout the text, as well as access to "Cite it Right: A Tutorial." This small, visually appealing, quickly moving, and effective tutorial highlights the basic definition of plagiarism and develops a student's ability to identify when it is necessary to cite references. Unfortunately, it is unclear if as a user/reader you have permission to download the files of the tutorial for use in your own server environment. Although the tutorial is not developed in open source code, there is a note provided on the CD-ROM that reads, "Advanced IT users: Flash code and snippets are contained in a folder on this CD-ROM."
Though the tutorial appears very useful, the two chapters in the text on tutorial development would have been more instructive if combined into one work since the focus on style, developing an audience, [End Page 282] and advertising diminish the discussion of a tutorial's instructional objectives.
Overall the most significant omission from the text is an in-depth discussion of academic integrity and plagiarism in the context of a cross-curricular information literacy curriculum, although the concept is mentioned throughout the text in several...