Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where's the line?

I had another close call with plagarism today.

The assignment was to summarize how a particular protein was used in a paper, including what it was used to show, how the researchers got it into the cells, how it was measured, and how the results were confirmed.

This paper was a mess--it didn't answer the clear list of questions I had distributed with the assignment. So I found the original.

I was stunned to find that things sounded eerily familiar. I started highlighting the sentences in the student paper that were identical to the original article...and I stopped after two solid pages of hot pink highlighter.

This student's entire paper was composed of direct quotes from the original article. It's like it shrunk from being four pages of journal-sized font to four pages of double spaced, twelve point text simply by removing sentences and clauses.

The ironic thing is that he referenced the article after each sentence he that makes it better.

I decided not to call the Dean of Students about seemed like an honest case of not understanding the difference between citing and quoting. I did give him an abyssmal grade (10/100), with the opportunity to re-write and get the average between the original and second draft score. We talked for a while about citing and's hoping it sinks in.

Am I unique in this problem? How do you help students use sources appropriately?

1 comment: