Although many discussions of academic integrity and plagiarism focus on failures in ethical reasoning, student problems with good authorship practices are often motivated by weaknesses in reading comprehension or skill in writing paraphrases (e.g., Roig, 2007). Students frequently have problems paraphrasing ideas from primary sources because their understanding of the original work is weak. Sometimes these problems manifest as an over-reliance on quotations. The student who has difficulty paraphrasing might string together quoted material to create a paper and contribute few, if any, thoughts stated in the student’s own language. Some students may attempt to disguise their reliance on quoted material by omitting the quotation marks (and, even worse, omitting a citation) and then discover they are now charged with plagiarism.
Use an in-class reading and paraphrasing activity to promote comprehension of source material and good authorship practices
This exercise will give students practice in writing appropriate paraphrases. It will also serve as an immediate source of feedback about how well they understood the original passage and the concepts discussed. When the class develops a paraphrase that is both accurate and original, misunderstandings of the original ideas will be clarified andcorrected. The class will also get direct practice with good authorship practices.
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.
Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
University of West Florida