Re-Thinking Plagiarism as Unfair Competition: Presented at CCCC, Chicago, IL, 24 March 2006

Community Standards Not Ownership This is substantially the same text I presented as a participant in the panel, “Plagiarism and Community,” with Lauren Fitzgerald and T. Kenny Fountain. A review of the panel, which includes excellent summaries of Lauren’s and Kenny’s papers, can be found here. This was one of my first ventures into the fray of conference presentations, and I am thankful to have had two very generous co-presenters and a wonderful group of engaged auditores who provided constructive commentary and feedback. In her article, “The Economics of Authorship: Online Paper Mills, Student Writers, and First Year Composition,”┬áin College Composition and Communication, our moderator, Kelly Ritter argues that in re-thinking plagiarism and how we should respond to the so-called plagiarism “crisis,” we must take a closer look at the circumstances that lead some of our students to cheat by purchasing papers from on-line paper mills. She observes that, “In order to truly understand how and why students continue to engage in dishonest practices in the composition classroom, we thus must seek to understand how and when students see themselves as authors; how students see themselves as consumers, not just in the purchase of a college education, but also in a society defined by anonymity, convenience, and privacy; and how students reconcile the warring concepts of author and consumer in the space of their own writing.” Thus, in Ritter’s analysis, “these occasions of whole-text plagiarism may fail to ‘patch’ together source material [in the sense of Rebecca Moore Howard’s definition of patch-writing], but they still show a lack of recognition on the students’ part that authorship is valuable and...
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