A rising tide of student plagiarism during her three years as director of composition at Colorado State University left professor Sarah Sloane reeling.
She saw it all: blatant cut-and-paste copying from the Internet; only a word changed here and there, “sort of like Mad Libs”; chunks of material lifted straight from a university-issued brochure.
But why? Last time she counted, CSU’s website featured at least five different prohibitions on plagiarism. In recent years, the university instituted an honor code to stem academic dishonesty.
“It’s a time of change – we’re in flux,” says Sloane, noting that plagiarism always has been community-defined, not only by geography but also by history and culture. “Sometimes I think plagiarism rules, as currently codified, haven’t caught up.”
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