Academic Honesty Exercise

Since so much of the learning process is based on what has been written or said before, you must learn to use legitimately the ideas and words of others. Taking ideas or words which are not one's own and presenting them as if they were is plagiarism, a serious form of academic dishonesty. Students in all courses, not just composition courses, are expected to turn in writing that is their own and that has been completed for the specific assignment.

Whenever you refer to a source, the reader should be made aware of that fact. Also, you should provide the reader with information about the source. You should do your own writing for each assignment and should inform the reader of any reference to source. Some definitions:

Documentation Usage:
  • directly quoting from the source (quotation marks required)
  • paraphrasing part of the source (quotation marks not required)
  • summarizing part of the source (quotation marks not required)

Documentation Exercise

ORIGINAL:

(from Gibson, William M., and Stanley T. Williams. "Experiment in Poetry: Emily Dickinson and Sidney Lanier." Literary History of the United States. Robert E. Spiller, et al., editors. 4th edition. Vol. 1. Macmillan, 1974, pp. 899-916.)

The major concerns of Dickinson's poetry early and late, her "flood subjects," may be defined as the seasons and nature, death and a problematic afterlife, the kinds and phases of love, and poetry as the divine art.


STUDENT PAPERS:

The chief subjects of Emily Dickinson's poetry include nature and the seasons, death and the afterlife, the various types and stages of love, and poetry itself as a divine art.

1. a. Is there plagiarism here? Why? If you believe plagiarism does occur, rewrite the student's passage to correct the error.


Gibson and Williams suggest that the chief subjects of Emily Dickinson's poetry include nature, death, love, and poetry as a divine art (1: 906).

1. b. Is there plagiarism in this passage? What method of documentation has the student used?


ORIGINAL:

(from Anderson, N.E., Jr. "The Life and Culture of Ecotopia." Reinventing Anthropology. Dell Hymes, editor. Random House, 1974, pp. 264-283.)

This, of course, raises the central question of this paper: What should we be doing? Research and training in the whole field of restructuring the world as an "ecotopia" (eco-, from oikos, household; -topia from topos, place, with implication of "eutopia" — "good place") will presumably be the goal.


STUDENT PAPERS:

At this point in time humankind should be attempting to create what we might call an "ecotopia."

2. a. Is there plagiarism in this passage? Why or why not?


At this point in time humankind should be attempting to create what E.N. Anderson, Jr., has called an "ecotopia" (275).

2. b. Is there plagiarism here? Why or why not?


ORIGINAL:

(from Toffler, Alvin. The Third Wave. Bantam, 1981.)

Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognizing it, we are engaged in building a remarkable civilization from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave.

Until now the human race has undergone two great waves of change, each one largely obliterating earlier cultures or civilizations and replacing them with ways of life inconceivable to those who came before. The First Wave of change — the agricultural revolution — took thousands of years to play itself out. The Second Wave — the rise of industrial civilization — took a mere hundred years. Today history is even more accelerative, and it is likely that the Third Wave will sweep across history and complete itself in a few decades.


STUDENT PAPERS:

There have been two revolutionary periods of change in history: the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution. The agricultural revolution determined the course of history for thousands of years; the industrial civilization lasted about a century. We are now on the threshold of a new period of revolutionary change, but this one may last for only a few decades.

3. a. Does plagiarism occur here? What could the student do to correct this error?


According to Alvin Toffler, there have been two revolutionary periods of change in history: the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution. The agricultural revolution determined the course of history for thousands of years; the industrial civilization lasted about a century. We are now on the threshold of a new period of revolutionary change, but this one may last for only a few decades (10).

3. b. Is there plagiarism in this passage? Why or why not?


ORIGINAL:

(from Fenton, Charles A. The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway: The Early Years. Farrar, Straus and Young, 1954.)

Hemingway's debt to journalism was a large one, and he always acknowledged it. Unlike many ex-newspapermen, however, he neither sentimentalized the profession nor misunderstood its essential threat to creative writing.


4. Which of the following is the better paraphrase? Why?

  1. Hemingway's indebtedness to journalism was very great, and he himself said so. Unlike so many writers who have been newspapermen, however, he did not sentimentalize journalism or misunderstand that it is a danger to creative talent.
  2. Hemingway admitted that he learned from newspaper work. But he also recognized that journalism can hurt writers as well as help them.

(Examples taken from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert, editors. 3rd edition, The Modern Language Association of America, 1988.)