Tech Linked to Increased Plagiarism?

I recently received the article above from one of the parents in our community. In it, teachers are cited as touting the benefits of technology as writing and how it makes teaching writing easier.  “Teachers [also] say plagiarism, informality are byproducts of digital influence on writing.” Technology and the internet certainly offer  increased access to information and as the sheer volume of information we process increases, revising our communication to become more time efficient makes sense, particularly with informal communication between  friends and peers.

However, the article  made me wonder if we occasionally place blame on things, like technology, in lieu of accepting personal responsibility for our shortfalls.

Plagiarism is a pet peeve of mine because it means that someone took another’s work or idea(s) and claimed it as their own and without giving credit where its due. I just don’t like that notion.
Rather than blame technology for facilitating this, perhaps it is our own bad behavior that results in the increases in plagiarism today. Several times in the past few years highly visible role models, journalists and university professors, have been caught not giving credit for their sources and outright copying and rarely were any consequences levied.
A few examples that stand out for me are the late Stephen Ambrose – history professor and prolific writer, Lawrence Tribe – Constitutional Law professor, Dr. Shervert H. Frazier – Director of National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH), and Fareed Zakaria – CNN host, Editor at Large for Times, Washington Post contributor.
According to a NY Times article, in 1988 Dr. Shervert H. Frazier admitted “…to plagiarizing large sections of four papers he wrote in medical journals and textbooks.” He resigned under pressure and then…
In 2002, Stephen Ambrose was accused of plagiarism. Forbes magazine found that Prof. Ambrose plagiarized five of the books he wrote. He wrote a brief apology.
Professor Ambrose may have been a trend setter…
According to the Harvard Crimson, In 2004 Prof. Lawrence Tribe admitted to plagiarizing. He apologized and continued teaching without consequences. It was the third incident by a faculty member of the law school that year.
Times seem to have changed because…
In 2012, the New York Times wrote an article, “CNN and Time Suspend Journalist After Admission of Plagiarism” The journalist was also an editor at large and CNN host, Fareed Zakaria. He plagiarized numerous pieces and published them under his own name. The discovery made national headlines…he’s back on the job.
If some of our most renowned and influential thought leaders are plagiarizing and their primary job is to report the news or contribute original academic work into academia, should we be surprised that our youth are following their examples?
Anyway, it is an issue. Not that we work together and better our ideas, but that we neglect to give credit to those who deserve it.

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July 29, 2013 · 6:49 am

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