Does Technology Make Plagiarism Obsolete? Your Kid Might Think So

April Peveteaux

plagiarism in collegePoet Audre Lorde said, "There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt."

Still, that doesn't give anyone the right to steal words and ideas from someone else and present them as their own. But more and more students are doing just that, according to The New York Times.

Professors and tutors are reporting that more students are copying and pasting text from the web and not attributing the text to its original source or author. What's worse, many students know this is plagiarism but just don't care. Only 29 percent of students surveyed see stealing from the web as "serious cheating."

Whether plagiarism isn't being taught in high schools, or if this generation is used to stealing music, streaming cable television for free, or simply getting all of their "facts" from Wikipedia, there is a real disconnect for students who use words found on the web, rather than using their own.

Luckily not all students think it's okay to grab what you want from the web without giving credit to the author or source.

That theory does not wash with Sarah Wilensky, a senior at Indiana University, who said that relaxing plagiarism standards “does not foster creativity, it fosters laziness.”

“You’re not coming up with new ideas if you’re grabbing and mixing and matching,” said Ms. Wilensky, who took aim at Ms. Hegemann in a column in her student newspaper headlined “Generation Plagiarism.”

“It may be increasingly accepted, but there are still plenty of creative people -- authors and artists and scholars -- who are doing original work,” Ms. Wilensky said in an interview. “It’s kind of an insult that that ideal is gone, and now we’re left only to make collages of the work of previous generations.”

I actually think it would be more difficult to piece together text from various sources and create a comprehensive paper than to read those sources and formulate your own sentences. But clearly, it's happening. Wilensky also believes that high school is not preparing college students to read, absorb, and formulate their own thoughts on original source material.

Perhaps they're too busy listening to mash-ups and getting their news from aggregates.


Image via Yakinodi/Flickr

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