Lines on Plagiarism Blur for Students in the Digital Age – NYTimes.com

by Art Fag City on August 2, 2010 · 11 comments Fresh Links!

  • Lines on Plagiarism Blur for Students in the Digital Age – NYTimes.com – Am I the only one who thinks this story is 500 years old? High school doesn’t prepare students for University properly! Students are plagiarizing! Students are lazy and don’t care about writing! Newsflash: They never did. This story would have been better if it focused more of its efforts here:
    Ms. Blum contends that undergraduates are less interested in cultivating a unique and authentic identity — as their 1960s counterparts were — than in trying on many different personas, which the Web enables with social networking. “If you are not so worried about presenting yourself as absolutely unique, then it's O.K. if you say other people's words, it's O.K. if you say things you don't believe, it's O.K. if you write papers you couldn't care less about because they accomplish the task, which is turning something in and getting a grade,” Ms. Blum said, voicing student attitudes. “And it's O.K. if you put words out there without getting any credit.”
  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    You’re right: It’s probably nothing new, but stories like this http://nyti.ms/aG9alQ — and the ease in which students cut & paste entire essays from online, images included, and present them as their own — has less to do with The Youth of Today “trying on many different personas” and “social networking” as it does with the same “500 years old” problem of students being lazy and unprepared… except now it’s a lot easier for them to plagiarize, and universities aren’t strictly enforcing their own “academic integrity” policies enough to scare students straight.

    And I don’t really think that Ms. Blum was “voicing student attitudes” as much as she was voicing her own.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    You’re right: It’s probably nothing new, but stories like this http://nyti.ms/aG9alQ — and the ease in which students cut & paste entire essays from online, images included, and present them as their own — has less to do with The Youth of Today “trying on many different personas” and “social networking” as it does with the same “500 years old” problem of students being lazy and unprepared… except now it’s a lot easier for them to plagiarize, and universities aren’t strictly enforcing their own “academic integrity” policies enough to scare students straight.

    And I don’t really think that Ms. Blum was “voicing student attitudes” as much as she was voicing her own.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I don’t really have the sense that the “young’ns” are trying on new personas. A more identifiable difference might be trend, because it means something different to younger generations than mine. Internet crap, makes the rounds for a week and that’s it. Two years later it will do the same thing as though no one knew it ever existed. The internet is constantly being rediscovered for some reason I don’t understand.

      Anyway, for younger generations who are used to seeing websites come and go, permanence isn’t something anyone trusts. And plagiarizing is only a symptom of an ongoing educational problem; that being how to get kids to think creatively. I’d rather see an article about assignments that ask students to recast sentences they’ve lifted as their own, before expanding the original material into their own thoughts, than drivel documenting the persistence of human nature.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I don’t really have the sense that the “young’ns” are trying on new personas. A more identifiable difference might be trend, because it means something different to younger generations than mine. Internet crap, makes the rounds for a week and that’s it. Two years later it will do the same thing as though no one knew it ever existed. The internet is constantly being rediscovered for some reason I don’t understand.

      Anyway, for younger generations who are used to seeing websites come and go, permanence isn’t something anyone trusts. And plagiarizing is only a symptom of an ongoing educational problem; that being how to get kids to think creatively. I’d rather see an article about assignments that ask students to recast sentences they’ve lifted as their own, before expanding the original material into their own thoughts, than drivel documenting the persistence of human nature.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    You’re right: It’s probably nothing new, but stories like this http://nyti.ms/aG9alQ — and the ease in which students cut & paste entire essays from online, images included, and present them as their own — has less to do with The Youth of Today “trying on many different personas” and “social networking” as it does with the same “500 years old” problem of students being lazy and unprepared… except now it’s a lot easier for them to plagiarize, and universities aren’t strictly enforcing their own “academic integrity” policies enough to scare students straight.

    And I don’t really think that Ms. Blum was “voicing student attitudes” as much as she was voicing her own.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Art Fag City

      I don’t really have the sense that the “young’ns” are trying on new personas. A more identifiable difference might be trend, because it means something different to younger generations than mine. Internet crap, makes the rounds for a week and that’s it. Two years later it will do the same thing as though no one knew it ever existed. The internet is constantly being rediscovered for some reason I don’t understand.

      Anyway, for younger generations who are used to seeing websites come and go, permanence isn’t something anyone trusts. And plagiarizing is only a symptom of an ongoing educational problem; that being how to get kids to think creatively. I’d rather see an article about assignments that ask students to recast sentences they’ve lifted as their own, before expanding the original material into their own thoughts, than drivel documenting the persistence of human nature.

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    I agree that students need to be taken to task — in a real way — in “expanding the original material into their own thoughts.” How this should be done, however, is another conversation entirely. Still, these chiding, repetitive articles that place undue emphasis (and blame) on the internet don’t really help (though this article is funny, distressing, and likely true: http://bit.ly/d49iFg).

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    I agree that students need to be taken to task — in a real way — in “expanding the original material into their own thoughts.” How this should be done, however, is another conversation entirely. Still, these chiding, repetitive articles that place undue emphasis (and blame) on the internet don’t really help (though this article is funny, distressing, and likely true: http://bit.ly/d49iFg).

  • http://jessepatrickmartin.blogspot.com/ Jesse P. Martin

    I agree that students need to be taken to task — in a real way — in “expanding the original material into their own thoughts.” How this should be done, however, is another conversation entirely. Still, these chiding, repetitive articles that place undue emphasis (and blame) on the internet don’t really help (though this article is funny, distressing, and likely true: http://bit.ly/d49iFg).

  • http://esp1987.tumblr.com Erik S. Peterson

    I don’t know, it seems like this article does have some good points. As a current college student, I do find that I have a different attitude towards information than my teachers. I personally went to a private high school that drilled all of its students on exactly what constitutes plagiarism, so I am careful to cite sources and would never think to use actual text from the web as my own writing. However, most people I know do have a sense that information has lost its preciousness, and that does have a lot to do with the way that the internet blurs the line between specialist knowledge and common knowledge. Wikipedia and jstor in particular give students an ease of access to knowledge that once would have required extensive research just to acquire, let alone understand or internalize. The web is essentially seen in this way as having replaced the encyclopedia as the standard of common knowledge. If it’s on the web, it’s commonly available and a part of the collective body of information that constitutes common knowledge.

    I think that’s the general attitude of the students I know towards information and plagiarism in an academic writing context, but the author in the article Jesse links to is presenting another facet of shifting attitudes. Most people in the arts now take the legitimacy of pastiche for granted. I don’t know anyone here at RISD who would even stop for half a second to think whether the image they are lifting from a magazine, book, or web site for use in their work constitutes a violation of copyright law. Conversely, only the most conceited among us would ever try to claim those images, individuated from the resultant work, as their own ‘property’. Ms. Hegemann seems more than a little facetious in her description of her work as ‘mixing’, as do other such young authors who have lifted writing from lesser known works. I don’t think that there’s a problem with such lifting, the enlightenment idea of the creator/individual/author was always pretty bunk, but not acknowledging the mixing tactic from the outset shows that these authors knew what they were doing would be received with suspicion, and the subsequent explanations seem more like excuses than a true embrace of the death of the author.

  • http://esp1987.tumblr.com Erik S. Peterson

    I don’t know, it seems like this article does have some good points. As a current college student, I do find that I have a different attitude towards information than my teachers. I personally went to a private high school that drilled all of its students on exactly what constitutes plagiarism, so I am careful to cite sources and would never think to use actual text from the web as my own writing. However, most people I know do have a sense that information has lost its preciousness, and that does have a lot to do with the way that the internet blurs the line between specialist knowledge and common knowledge. Wikipedia and jstor in particular give students an ease of access to knowledge that once would have required extensive research just to acquire, let alone understand or internalize. The web is essentially seen in this way as having replaced the encyclopedia as the standard of common knowledge. If it’s on the web, it’s commonly available and a part of the collective body of information that constitutes common knowledge.

    I think that’s the general attitude of the students I know towards information and plagiarism in an academic writing context, but the author in the article Jesse links to is presenting another facet of shifting attitudes. Most people in the arts now take the legitimacy of pastiche for granted. I don’t know anyone here at RISD who would even stop for half a second to think whether the image they are lifting from a magazine, book, or web site for use in their work constitutes a violation of copyright law. Conversely, only the most conceited among us would ever try to claim those images, individuated from the resultant work, as their own ‘property’. Ms. Hegemann seems more than a little facetious in her description of her work as ‘mixing’, as do other such young authors who have lifted writing from lesser known works. I don’t think that there’s a problem with such lifting, the enlightenment idea of the creator/individual/author was always pretty bunk, but not acknowledging the mixing tactic from the outset shows that these authors knew what they were doing would be received with suspicion, and the subsequent explanations seem more like excuses than a true embrace of the death of the author.

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