Part Three presents the most important aspects about using the Internet for the English student: plagiarism, copyright, and citing electronic documents. Since the widespread use of the Internet, governments and academia have yet to provide definitive standards in these important matters when using the Internet in a commercial or academic arena. This very difficult job has been handled magnificently by the authors in these two chapters. The authors have provided students with an up-to-the-nanosecond report of available information on these matters and then direct them to use the companion website for more current information.
Plagiarism is an easy concept to transfer to the Internet since all students are constantly being made aware, from elementary school on, of this academic sin. This is not the only major concern of teachers using the Internet. The authors point out three serious concerns: honesty, stability, and copyright.
The authors are very clear on their position about plagiarism: They consider it wrong and "view it as one of the worst academic sins anyone can commit." This view is shared by all English teachers as evidenced on many lists on which teachers speak about plagiarism. The authors are also quick to remind us: "People who decide to cheat and steal will not be stopped by returning to an older technology. Technology does not determine integrity." Plagiarism is best deterred in the classroom, which is the authors' stand as well as the stance of a large majority of teachers who voice their opinions on lists where plagiarism is discussed. The authors remind the students of the severity and make them aware of their teacher's position on the seriousness of Plagiarism.
The authors provide some advice to help the students avoid plagiarism by maintaining portfolio logs and using mixed fonts to distinguish between their text and quoted text when preparing research papers on their own or in collaboration. Essentially, students should begin to document their work just as professionals document their steps in business. A common acronym, CYA, says it all.
The second concern, the stability of the site, is a new dilemma to the English student who uses the Internet for research. The concern of stability of the site has two parts. First, will the site used today be there tomorrow? Second, will the site used today be the same site tomorrow? These two points create a major stumbling block in making the Internet a viable research tool. The authors provide excellent scenarios which are very real concerns to the English student. This very real problem must be solved if the Internet is to be considered a real and good research source for student papers. One solution may require the student to lift major pieces and to create accompanying files that are hypertexted to form their paper and to gain permissions from the original authors. As the Internet becomes more stable as an academic source, sites will begin to create their own libraries and archives on line. Yes, right now it is a problem, but it will be solved.
The third concern is the matter of copyright. As the authors point out, the simple act of viewing another site using a browser is technically a copyright violation. The authors provide the example of a student using a poem from The New Yorker. In a term paper handed in, this poem can appear with proper attribution under "Fair Use." However, place this same essay with the poem on the Internet and a whole new set of problems arise. This very subject is being discussed at all levels of government, academia, and publishing. The jury is still out. The best advice given the student is, "You need permission to quote the copyrighted words of others." In the electronic world this is relatively simple. Send email to the author explaining what you plan, and ask for permission and how the work should be cited.
The third concern is that of citing electronic resources and adapting MLA, APA, and CMS Guidelines. This is relatively familiar ground for students in an English class and adapting on the Internet is a simple pattern. The authors point out that there are excellent guides online which the students can refer to when doing their work. This book provides some good general guidelines while the website will provide the latest information from active websites.
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