Right now, an editor may be about to issue an apology or a stern rebuttal. And a gaggle of self-appointed fact-checkers may be plugging sentence after sentence into Google for any traces of dishonesty.
The Columbia Spectator writer fired for plagiarizing from The New York Times earlier this month was actually employing a dishonest writing technique that is common on college campuses and among journalists.
A study directed by Rebecca Moore Howard, professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University, suggests that much of the writing by college students is intellectually dishonest, but falls short of actual plagiarism. She is preparing to publish her findings in a book.
Patchwriting is often a failed attempt at paraphrasing, Howard said. Rather than copying a statement word for word, the writer is rearranging phrases and changing tenses, but is relying too heavily on the vocabulary and syntax of the source material.
In her study, called the Citation Project, Howard and her colleagues wanted to see exactly how students writing patchwriting and plagiarism detection using sources in their papers. Their theory is that if professors know what the weaknesses are, they can teach students to make better use of their sources.
Howard and her partners coded composition papers written by students enrolled at 16 different colleges, ranging from community colleges to Ivy League universities. Howard concluded that 17 percent of writing in the average college term paper is patchwriting.
She didn't find much plagiarism at all. I first heard Howard describe patchwriting at a conference on writing integrity earlier this year at Poynter.
And when I looked closely at her examples, I realized that journalists utilize patchwriting as well. At the very least, patchwriting is bad writing, she said.
And that might be the strongest reason that newsroom editors would object to it, although I concede that not all editors would object. Some would be just fine with this type of writing.
After all, we teach college students to write not because we expect them to become writers, but because writing is the evidence that they are mastering intellectual concepts. What we expect of journalists is different. Based on those consultations, I believe most editors would deem patchwriting problematic, but not plagiarism.
Patchwriting case study The quote lifting was what doomed the Spectator writer. Here are the three paragraphs thank you Ivygateblog. But he did save just about everything — whether a doodle on a Plaza Hotel cocktail napkin of an imagined city on Ellis Island, his earliest pencil sketch of the spiraling Guggenheim Museum or a model of Broadacre City, his utopian metropolis.
The Spectator writer implied that she got that exact quote from the museum curator in an interview herself. But the other two paragraphs pose a more classic problem. She had interviewed the curator, as well as a librarian and other sources.
But the side-by-side comparison made it clear that the writer was inappropriately using the New York Times piece as a crutch. To me it's still pretty clear cut and it's completely unacceptable.
You didn't have to start the story that way.
Why is the rearranging without citation dishonest? Stealing the selection is stealing the intellectual work of that writer. The problem for journalism But we do that all the time in journalism, I suspect we do it now even more than we used to.
Because now, if you look at all the work that populates the marketplace of ideas, it is written by reporters, bloggers, aggregators, commentators, curmudgeons and both professional and amateur opiners.
A greater portion of that material is absent any original reporting and instead built upon the work of others. Much of that is valuable, original thinking.
But a good chunk of it is merely the rearranged work of other writers. This could be a rewritten press release, or a re-written story about a player trade in the sporting world. We get away with this in journalism because many of the facts that we write about quickly become generally accepted as truth and therefore do not need attribution.
Journalism at its most basic level is about meeting an information need. But journalism is also often about telling a story, conducting an investigation, or explaining something complicated. In these cases, patchwriting is more problematic.According to ashio-midori.com, plagiarism is defined as the act of passing off as one's own the ideas or writings of another.
The Council of Writing Program Administrators' definition for plagiarism: In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else's language.
detecting EFL students' use of plagiarism and patchwriting in writing their graduation research papers. 2. identifying the factors that make students plagiarize and patchwrite, and whether they know what these.
Plagiarism is the antithesis of writing integrity and can carry heavy consequences. Generally recognized as a form of intellectual and academic misconduct, plagiarism entails “the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.” 6 To plagiarize is to misrepresent—as one’s own.
Academic Writing and Plagiarism is a cutting-edge research monograph which will be essential reading for researchers in applied linguistics. Table of contents Acknowledgements \ 1.
Cartoon by Pirillo & Fitz. Plagiarism.
It’s a concept that puts sour looks on teachers’ faces and sends shudders down students’ spines. When you sit down to write that essay, however, you don’t have to be afraid of unintentionally committing plagiarism.
Patchwriting and Patchwork Plagiarism. Explanation, the problem, how to detect and avoid, chances of finding patchwork plagiarism.
While we may not exactly think of it when that term paper is due soon, writing is a craft.