I’m happy to say that an article that Patricia Serviss, Tanya Rodrigue, and I wrote has just been accepted at the new journal Writing and Pedagogy. They’re going to be publishing a special issue on plagiarism. Our article, titled “Writing from Sources, Writing from Sentences,” isn’t actually about plagiarism. Rather, it’s about some of the challenges that students have with source-based writing—challenges that can easily lead to plagiarism but that are important for other issues, too, such as critical reading and argument. The article is a report of the pilot research we did for the Citation Project, which is now becoming a much larger study that will result in quantified results from multiple campuses. Here’s the current draft of our abstract:
Instead of focusing on students’ citation of sources, educators should attend to the more fundamental question of how well students understand their sources and whether they are able to write about them without appropriating language from the source. Of the eighteen student research texts we studied, none included summary of a source, raising questions about the students’ critical reading practices. Instead of summary, which is highly valued in academic writing and is promoted in composition textbooks, the students paraphrased, copied from, or patchwrote from individual sentences in their sources. Writing from individual sentences places writers in constant jeopardy of working too closely with the language of the source and thus inadvertently plagiarizing; and it also does not compel the writer to understand the source.
Do check out this new journal. With the field of writing studies growing at its current rate, the discipline needs new venues for scholarly publication. Here’s one, and I can testify to its rigorous, thorough peer review system. Very promising.