Maurice Norman

Maurice Norman
Ms. Trahan
English 101
Synthesis Essay
14 November 2009

A Look into Plagiarism

It is finals week, students are cracking down and trying to get their papers done before the deadline. Feeling pressured, the students began to seek other sources for help. They start using others work and switching around the words to make it their own without citations. Will they get accused of plagiarism? Is the academic community correctly addressing the issue of plagiarism? Should the definition of plagiarism apply to all? All of these are questions that come up in the debate about plagiarism. Three authors state their different perspectives over the handling of the issue. In A Plagiarism Pentimento, Rebecca Moore Howard argues that “patch writing”, a type of plagiarism is used to help students understand the text better. Keith D. Miller, the author of Redifining Plagiarism gives us reasons that he believes the academic community should change its traditional definition of plagiarism. Lastly, Maureen Hourigan, in Of Plagiarism, Paper Mills, and the Harried Hurried Student discusses the consequences of plagiarism from the perspective of universities and instructors. The three articles all address the issue of plagiarism. Nonetheless, the writers bring different views to the table and.
All of the articles speak of plagiarism, but the main difference in the way that the articles contribute to the issue of plagiarism is seen in the way that each believes that it should be handled. Howard discusses how they, the teachers, handle different types of ways of writing the wrong way and call it plagiarism based on how it is defined. Howard writes, “Because we teachers innocuously accept this definition and act upon it, we persecute students for crimes they didn’t commit” (Howard 115). Students do not think it is plagiarism and neither does the author. She also states that, “Worse, our adherence to the received definition of plagiarism blinds us to the positive value of composing strategy which I call “patch writing” copying a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures of plugging in one-for-one synonym substitutes” ( Howard 115). The audience for A Plagiarism Pentimento is primarily teachers that are strict on the definition of plagiarism and not open to the “patch writing” process, but also to writers so that they will know that they are not cheating by “patch writing”. She makes the argument that it is beneficial, because it helps the writers to understand and write about new ideas that they form and the readings they encounter in college.
The Redefining Plagiarism: Martin Luther King’s Use of an Oral Tradition article starts off by Miller discussing how Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. developed his speaking style and writing voice by using passages from other speeches and essays. Miller states that, “Few realize that King used unacknowledged sources throughout his entire public career” (Miller 128). Is this not considered plagiarism, just because it was an oral presentation? Miller believes the academic community should rethink its definition of plagiarism. They say one thing about the issue and treat it harshly, but make exceptions. Not only famous but when anyone is giving an oral presentation they can use others ideas and it goes against the definition.
“Two different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) borrowing someone’s idea, information, or language without documenting the source and (2) documenting the source but paraphrasing the source’s language too closely, without using quotation marks to indicate that words and phrases have been borrowed”(Howard 115).
When writing, students are penalized for plagiarism, but people do it in their speeches it is not a problem. Miller writers, “Just as the minister attempted to do, we must decide how to define plagiarism within the context of oral tradition” (Miller 128). Miller is stating that the definition only applies to written material, and if so, they need to make a decision on how to define it. The world is cracking down on plagiarism in writings but not in other aspects that fall into play with its definition.
Hourigan’s article begins in discussing the consequences of being accused of plagiarism. The academic community is beginning to get serious about this topic like the University of Rutgers is an example.
Rutgers policy statement illustrates that being accused of plagiarism is a big deal. Not only is a notion of plagiarism places on the students transcripts, but perhaps more importantly , ‘University faculty and administrators knowledgeable of academic dishonesty infractions are ethically bound to report such incidences’ to educational institutions and prospective employers in letters of recommendations requested by a student (Hourigan 160).
The professors are requested to crack down and have many ways to catch plagiarism. There is a difference between knowingly plagiarizing and not being aware. Intentional plagiarism is unethical and as Granitz and Coewy demonstrate in an article in the Journal of Business Ethics. “Unethical behavior in school can lead to unethical behavior in business and to financial ruin” (Hourigan 164). Hourigan is speaking to students, telling them that plagiarism is not an honest thing to do and if caught there will be repercussions.
The authors are pretty similar in that they all discuss plagiarism, but from different viewpoints. In A Plagiarism Pentimento, for example, Howard believes that the teachers should take a slightly different approach toward plagiarism. She states that using other ideas is indeed wrong and is plagiarizing, but “patch writing” is not. Miller believes that “clearly, we need to re-examine our definition of plagiarism” (Miller 131).The conflict between oral presentations and print is a huge matter when it comes to plagiarism. “While we must teach students to avoid plagiarism, we must teach students to avoid plagiarism, we also need to appreciate the difficulties that some may have in negotiating the boundaries between oral presentations and print traditions” (Miller 131). In Hourigan’s article she takes on what happens if you get caught plagiarizing and the concept of academic integrity. As she writes, “Plagiarism, representing someone else’s ideas as your own, is dishonest and a serious breach of academic integrity, the foundation upon which education rests” (Hourigan 164). Hourigan really focuses on the consequences of plagiarism.
After reading the three texts my understanding over the debate of plagiarism was enriched. I was not ignorant towards the issue, but I did not think it was as big an issue as it seems to be. Coming from high school just last year, I was familiar with the topic but I just disregarded how serious it was. My whole perspective has changed after reading those articles. On my high school papers I used to take someone else’s idea and change the words to make my own understanding. I did not know if it was plagiarizing or not, but my teacher never said anything about. Clearly, it is plagiarism, but Howard feels that I was doing nothing wrong. In Howard’s opinion I was practicing the “patch writing” method. So after reading A Plagiarism Pentimento I do not what to think about doing that. When it comes to summarizing we really are using someone else’s idea and making them ours and I view “patch writing” the same. I agree with the author Miller, about redefining the definition of plagiarism. In school, the teachers payed attention and repeatedly stated that we should not plagiarize in papers. Although, in history when I had speeches and used others whole ideas it was not a problem. I just do not understand the issue of plagiarism and it is confusing me. I have plagiarized before in high school, but the teachers didn’t take it too seriously so it did not matter. Now that I am in college and have read Hourigan’s article I will not do it. The consequences alone are enough for me not to plagiarize. Academic integrity is what education stands upon and I believe in it. I am really glad I read these articles, because I could have possibly ended up plagiarizing being unaware, and had faced the serious repercussions. My whole idea of plagiarism was changed by reading these articles and I look to study more on it.
Conjointly, the three articles beautifully attack the topic of plagiarism. The articles are good examples of how there can be a lot of different perspectives focusing on the same issue. Howard, Miller, and Hourigan address the same topic. Be that as it may, the authors bring different views and come from different angles of vision. Plagiarism is more complex and more ethically relative than we admit.

Works Cited
Howard, Rebecca M. “A Plagiarism Pentimento.” Essays on Writing. Eds Lizbeth A. Bryant and Heather M. Clark. New York: Longman, 2009. 29-35. Print.
Hourigan, Maureen. “Of Plagiarism, Paper Mills, and the Harried Hurried Student.” Essays on Writing. Eds Lizbeth A. Bryant and Heather M. Clark. New York: Longman, 2009. 29-35. Print.
Miller, Keith D. “The Redefining Plagiarism: Martin Luther King’s Use of an Oral Tradition.”Essays on Writing. Eds Lizbeth A. Bryant and Heather M. Clark.
New York:Longman, 2009. 29-35. Print.

Maurice Norman
Mrs. Trahan
English 101
Reflection Paper
3 December 2009

Growing as a Writer

I really enjoyed being a part of Mrs. Trahan’s English 101 class this quarter. I believe that the course helped me tremendously. It was a new experience for me and one of the more challenging courses that I have been in throughout my academic career. When I slacked off I received a rude awakening when I was on the verge of not passing the course. My academic advisor received an email beginning with the following words, “To be quite frank, Maurice might not pass this course”. That was from Mrs. Trahan and from that day forward and knew that play time was over. I got it together and picked it up toward the middle and end of the quarter, hoping that is wasn’t already too late. It was not that I was slacking it was just that I was not understanding what was being asked of me. I needed to seek help and was not doing so. It was not until I actually went and got help that things become clear to me and quite easy to understand. Now after the experiences from being this in this course my whole approach to school became real serious. It really should not have taken my poor performance in a class to do that but it did. I appreciate everything about the course and it will really help later on in my academic career.
I improved a lot as writer taking English 101. The course was a challenge that I needed and it helped me to overcome my fear of writing. After receiving a mark off “NP” meaning “not proficient” on every single paper, I had no choice but to go back and make a lot of changes striving to do better the next time. After making so many corrections, things start becoming easy as I went on in the quarter and there were not as many corrections that were to be made. I began to develop as a writer and started to be confident in my ability as a writer. The Reading, Composing, and Responding essay was a struggle. I was new to rhetoric and was not clear on what was being asked of me. The same thing took place with next essay which was the rhetorical analysis, it was even harder. Everything was still new to me and did not know what rhetorical strategies were or even how to find them in someone else’s writing. As the quarter progressed and received help I became familiar with the rhetorical strategies, the MLA format, I know what rhetoric is and things were not as complicated anymore. I also learned to stop using slang when I am writing and to stop writing how I talk and text message. Also, I learned not to use contractions, which I tend to do a lot. It used to take me awhile to get started writing, but now it is different. I used to have to add irrelevant things into my papers just to make them long enough and the quality of my papers would suffer do to that. When the synthesis paper was assigned it took it right on. Turing in this portfolio I feel very confident. The course was very beneficial to me. I grew as a writer and my fear of writing is now just a memory. I learned a numerous amount of things that I can take with me to be successful in English 102. I believe that the 101 course prepared me for the class just as it is supposed to. I owe all of this to being in Mrs. Trahan’s English 101 class.

There are still things that I need to work on even though I improved in many aspects of my writing. I need to learn how to stop oversimplifying things when writing my papers. Also, I could work on keeping one constant idea throughout my essays, because I tend to change ideas a lot and it confuses the reader. When writing my essays I need to make sure that I worded things in a way that the audience can understand, because I know that there is times where I know what I am saying but it is hard for anyone else to understand. I have a problem with starting a thought and just leaving it alone. I could work on completing my thoughts and I could go far as a writer.
Overall, being in this class was a new and interesting experience. I do not think I would have been able to grow this much as writer and change view on my academics if I had not taking the course. Like I said before, I benefitted a lot from taking this course and it will help out a lot as I take higher levels of writing.||wmnamron

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