Guarding Against / Avoiding Plagiarism

Roger Easson and Kate Coffield in separate posts offered the following practical suggestions for how to preempt acts of plagiarism in the writing classroom:

Nick Carbone proffered the slightly more radical idea of paper-swapping, i.e., allowing students "to take paragraphs from one another’s papers and to use them without any citing." In this way, class members generate "pools of knowledge (intellectual village commons), which [they] add to and draw from without formally citing everyone." By establishing in this way a "community intellectual property," plagiarism by definition becomes impossible, with students freely sharing and accessing each other’s ideas. My own suggestion for avoiding plagiarism, in keeping with both Nick Carbone’s "paper-swapping" idea and Kate Coffield’s second suggestion above, was to investigate "other viable models of research and critical thinking" that allow us to sidestep the problem of plagiarism altogether. More specifically, I recommended research assignments that "reward (among other things) instances of appropriation and attribution in and of themselves," thinking that acts of blatant or subtle misuse of outside material will be fewer if students are taught to recognize skillful appropriation as a credit-earning activity.