Mitva Soni

What is Plagiarism to you?
What do you think about plagiarism? Have you ever plagiarized? If so, do you know what plagiarism is and what is defined as plagiarism to you? Personally plagiarism to me is copying words from a somewhere (i.e. internet, book, newspaper…etc.) and I think those who plagiarism deserves their punishment for doing it. Now that you’re thinking about plagiarism… According to Rebecca Moore Howard, Keith D. Miller, and Maureen Hourigan, plagiarism is defined in many different ways and they each have their own views on it. Ms. Moore thinks patchwriting is altering the words from your source and she thinks that idea is acceptable and should not be described as plagiarism. Miller tells us about Martin Luther King and his plagiarized speech and how it’s understandable to for certain purpose to take words. Finally Ms. Hourigan discusses how plagiarism has become a bigger problem since internet has been invented. All three of these authors gave their valuable opinions, but I couldn’t agree with just one of them because they each had good points. Everyone has a different view on plagiarism but after reading, “Of Plagiarism, Papers Mills, and the Harried Hurried Student” by Maureen Hourigan, “A Plagiarism Pentimento” by Rebecca Howard and “Redefining Plagiarism: Martin Luther King’s Use of an Oral Tradition” by Keith Miller each author had me thinking about my definition of plagiarism and if it should be altered.

What is “patchwriting? (Howard 115)” Rebecca Moore Howard states its “copying a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging one-for-one synonym substitutes. (116).” As a professor, Ms. Howard failed her entire class for doing for their papers this way and didn’t understand how they could write in such a way. Eventually she realized that this was a “plagiarism pentimento” (118) and learned that “patchwriting” is writing that gave credit to the writer as well as the source, and helped the writer become a part of the source’s culture. Ms. Howard also understood that this type of writing didn’t just change the words around but also the grammar and phases were also deleted. Similarly, the study shown in Ms. Howard’s essay done by Brown, Day, and Jones, the “copy-delete” (120) is very comparable to the “patchwriting” method except that the first method seemed immature compared to “patchwriting” (115). The “copy-delete” study showed there was no plagiarism and helped the writer in cognitive development. Each study helped students when summarizing, therefore the students in Ms. Howard’s class were a positive trait. The summaries were not immature but rather had an outsider’s intake. Although there were people who don’t agree with “patchwriting” (115), the author believes that it will help the student understand and it will better their summary-writing skills.

Ms. Howard made some great points in her essay with “patchwriting” (115). I believe that this type of writing should not be considered plagiarism because I think it helps the students understand what they are writing. It also helps the student write from the authors view because if the writer is changing the words around, the words are still the authors. Although “patchwriting may be a good thing, I believe there are some downfalls to it. The thought of “patchwriting” seems ideal but if students use this method they aren’t really learning anything because there just using the author’s words (115).

Martin Luther King was an iconic leader and how ironic is it that his speech was from preachers and writers from the past. In Keith Miller’s essay he discusses how many preachers may have plagiarized from earlier preachers, such as Martin Luther King did. The author also spoke about how African Americans during slavery weren’t allowed to read and write so “slaves had created a highly oral religious culture that treated songs and sermons as shared wealth, not private property” (Miller 130). Keith Miller believed that King had grasped this tradition. It wasn’t just the African American preachers that borrowed from other preachers, white priest also did. Although white preachers misunderstanding was because of the oral culture, because nothing was written down it was harder to know if it was plagiarized. This borrowing was often castigated but at times preachers encouraged it, like one pastor “told preachers never to borrow, but then published a collection of illustrations for their sermons-drawn from other people’s sermons” (130). We all may not be preachers but we need to determine how we are going to describe what we consider was plagiarism, just like the preachers did.

Preachers have very similar ideas; therefore I believe there should be a certain way to define plagiarism. Although they all probably could state it differently, I don’t think they are trying to get their message across when they are using the same exact words from a someone else. Even though the preachers have the same ideas, I think that if they are taking word for word it is plagiarizing. I agree with the author, Keith Miller, when he says that we need to determine our definition of plagiarism because it is a difficult thought.

“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 argued papers mills and stressed students in her essay, which she explained that everyone has to something going on but there is no need to plagiarize. She also discussed how students turn to paper mills instead doing their own work and how they should express their own feelings toward their essays. As she says “In other words, because students don’t see themselves as “authors” who own ideas, when they purchase a paper from an online service, they see it not as unethically “stealing” some one else’s ideas and words, but as purchasing a document that is theirs to own” (161). The author believes that no one should ever plagiarize and if they do they should be punished. The paper mill websites have increased the number of students plagiarizing because it is easier to do it. In this essay we learned that these websites are scandals because they guarantee good grades, it’ll be on time and the professor won’t be able to trace this paper, so it won’t be considered plagiarism. In this article New York Times researched three different paper mill websites; they ordered a paper from each. One of these websites showed up late, the other earned a D+, and the last one, the professor asked the student to go and see them. These websites even guaranteed that the plagiarism won’t be detected and during this experiment they turned the paper into a website that catches plagiarism, each of the paragraphs were plagiarized and when they called them for a refund; they wouldn’t give a refund but would rather write another a paper. As you learned from this experiment and this essay that paper mills aren’t what they are advertised to be, and it’s better to do your own work.

I agree with all of Hourigan’s points but the “” websites find everything, even if you didn’t mean to plagiarize. For my English class last year after writing each paper we had to turn it in to one of those plagiarize detecting websites, and I didn’t plagiarize on purpose but it would show that I plagiarized ten percent. When I saw this, I stressed out trying to change words around and trying to figure what I was doing wrong, I asked my classmates and my teacher what I was doing wrong. My classmates said that they were having the same issues, when I asked my teacher she said not to worry about it because I didn’t copy from somewhere but it was common knowledge. I believe there should be something for common knowledge and what is considered plagiarized, because we all don’t have the same intelligence level. For that reason how are we suppose to know what is considered plagiarized. Although those websites are helpful, I don’t think that the student should be punished if there is a small amount of plagiarism.

After reading this, have you found your definition of plagiarism? Each of these authors had valuable and reasonable points for what they believe. Through my paper you saw through each of my points that I agreed with certain aspects of each of the author’s ideas but I found there were errors in each of their ideas. I hope this essay has given you an idea of what plagiarism and how easily it can be done. I believe that everyone has their own ideas and therefore we all can write, so don’t plagiarize!

Mitva Soni||gminoS

December 3, 2009
Dear Mrs. Trahan,
When I first applied for college, I worried about many things, but number one on my list was writing papers. I think I first encountered this fear of writing papers my freshman year of high school when I had to write my first research paper that I ended up failing. This fear haunted me throughout my high school career, and then I walked in as a freshman in college into your classroom, still scared to write a paper. As I went to write my first paper, the reading, composing, and responding essay which was the most difficult to write I had my ideas, but when I wrote them everything was very vague. This problem occurred throughout each of my papers but I think I improved a little with each paper I wrote.

For our first paper, I struggled to even get started, I attempted to outline my points but I was just too busy with trying to manage my time for all my classes that it didn’t work but I wrote down the important points. I started writing my paragraphs with each point but I only had a few points so it felt like my paragraphs weren’t complete, after I earned my grade for this paper I completely understood because it looked like there was more to say but there was not enough detail or explanations for each point. So for my next paper I made an outline but when I got done writing there was more to each paragraph but it after receiving my paper back, I saw where I could improve. The last paper for me at least was the easiest, I thought the topic was interesting and the concept of writing a synthesis paper seemed simple, it was summarizing and analyzing. I have always thought summaries were easier then analysis even though the analysis was what I thought, it was the difficult part. This paper I didn’t have to make an outline but I reread the articles many times and wrote down the important parts for each of them. I thought I would have gotten a higher grade but after I saw what you had written down when I got it back, I understood that my paragraphs were getting more detailed but when I was detailing certain parts, there were other parts that I needed to explain more. I do believe that I have improved a little since the beginning of the quarter because as I wrote my papers my grade did get better each time.

I was willing to correct each paper because I know that I could have done better but for each revision, I reread the articles and was talking to the articles which helped me a lot. I enjoyed revising my papers because it helped me understand what I was doing wrong more and as someone once said “practice makes perfect,” I have been improving my writing because I fixed all three of those papers.

I learned many new things in your class and it has helped me become a better writer. The journal entries were actually very helpful, we had to do back journal entries my freshman year of high school every day and they were actually very helpful and I enjoyed writing them. When you told us we had to publish our writing on wiki I was very nervous because I really wasn’t very enthusiastic of other people reading my writing but it has helped me become a more confident writer. Also the peer reviews we had in class were especially helpful, I felt like my classmates who were more experienced in writing helped me out a lot. These new habits for writing have helped me overcome a fright of writing papers and assisted me in becoming a better writer.

Mrs. Trahan, I have enjoyed your class and thank you for helping me become a better writer! Your class was very enjoyable and I learned many new things and have improved in my writing skills! You have helped me overcome my fear of writing papers!

Mitva Soni

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