One of our responsibilities as educators is to teach students to understand the process of conducting research: gathering information, presenting the information clearly and accurately, and documenting the information properly. In teaching these skills, we must address the issue of plagiarism as a serious matter, making clear to students the consequences of stealing the words and ideas of those who make their living as writers and researchers. Research papers, journal articles, and book reviews can easily be located on the Internet, and students may be tempted to take short cuts when completing an assignment for which many examples are readily available. It is our obligation as responsible adults to assure that students understand the definition of plagiarism and do not participate in this illegal activity.
The Handbook of Current English, by Corder and Ruszkiewicz, lists “some of the circumstances in which you might be accused of plagiarism…” (655).
borrowing the ideas, examples, or structure of a source without acknowledging it
taking, buying, or receiving a paper written by someone else and presenting it as your own
failing to acknowledge the sources of any information in your paper which is not personal knowledge
failing to acknowledge a direct quotation by using quotation marks or indention improperly paraphrasing the original words of your source
(Corder and Ruszkiewicz 655-656)
When introducing an assignment in which plagiarism may become a factor, teachers discuss this concept thoroughly. Students are instructed in writing and documenting research in a way that allows them to avoid plagiarizing. Those who choose to plagiarize will face the following consequences:
zero on assignment (in accordance with CVMS cheating policy) or, if assignment contains several sections,
zero on portion of assignment, at teacher discretion
additional copy of this letter sent home, signed, and returned
see above consequences
one full Saturday detention
see above consequences
two full Saturday detentions and consideration of placement at the RROC (Round Rock Opportunity Center)
Please take the time to read and discuss this letter with your son or daughter. After this discussion, each of you should sign the acknowledgement at the bottom of the “How to Help” page. In addition, print the student’s name at the top. Please return the signed copy of this page to your child’s language arts teacher.
The consequences of plagiarism can be extremely damaging to an academic career. With the wealth of information at our fingertips each day, we must be sure that our students participate in the learning process as informed and honest citizens.
Thank you for your assistance in setting high standards for our students.
Sincerely, The Administrators and Staff of Canyon Vista Middle School
Corder, Jim W., and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Handbook of Current English. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1989.
How to Help
Students often plagiarize when they lack confidence in their own writing or reading ability. Some turn to plagiarism when they feel pressure to finish an assignment, which is in many cases due to poor time management. Here are some tips on how to help your child write, read, and research confidently.
|Assignment||Students plagiarize by:||Students can avoid plagiarism by:||Book report/review||
1) copying the summary from the book jacket
1) NEVER using the summary on the book jacket to assist in writing a book report or review 2) writing one sentence about each chapter; revising if too long or too short 3) focusing on own opinion and ideas 4) taking quotes, if needed, from the pages of the book and giving page numbers
|Fiction story||1) using the same story line as a novel/short story read in the past, usually changing some minor details, but keeping the basic plot (i.e. boy in green coat chased by man in a van becomes a girl in a red dress chased by a woman in a van) 2) taking a scene from a familiar book or movie and inserting it into a story||1) giving credit when using the work or ideas of others 2) ALWAYS listing sources properly and completely 3) handing in all notes and research used in the paper with the final copy (If it is not in the notes, it shouldn’t be in the paper.)|
|Research-based writing||1) taking an idea from someone and presenting it as their own 2) downloading a paper from a web site|