In an age of instant cut and paste, copying the words or ideas of others is easy, so today many students ignore the need to credit sources. According to an August 1, 2010, New York Times article, Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age, many digital natives have difficulty understanding the concepts of attribution, intellectual property, and copyright. Moreover, the article points out that, with so much public conversation and criticism about Wikipedia, many young writers believe that crediting the online encyclopedia is unnecessary.
The Times article is a helpful back-to-school read, because it clarifies a critical issue confronting students — one that affects the quality of their work. By addressing the need to cite sources and maintain personal integrity, parents provide solid support for their children, and they help children avoid problems that arise when Internet sources in assignments without attribution. Family conversations need to occur early and often, building a child’s respect for digital citizenship.
Many students are also confused about difference between using a quote and using an idea from a source. Reinforcing these concepts and distinguishing between them requires repetition, time, and patience. A short YouTube Video, Avoiding Plagiarism: What Do I Need to Cite? from CriticalThinkingTutorials.com provides useful information.
While plagiarism conversations continually occur in the classroom, children who have related conversations at home are more prepared to attend to the rigors and temptations of research assignments and projects.
According to the Times article, written by reporter Trip Gabriel, “The Internet may be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing Wikipedia, and web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.”
Useful Plagiarism Resources
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab Plagiarism Resources
- Are You Part of Generation Plagiarism? New York Times Learning Network
- Plagiarism Explanation from Kids Health
- Why Cite Your Sources? (YouTube)