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Retribution, deterrence and reform: Discourses of plagiarism management in universities Dr Wendy Sutherland-Smith Monash University, Faculty of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Retribution, deterrence and reform: Discourses of plagiarism management in universities Dr Wendy Sutherland-Smith Monash University, Faculty of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Retribution, deterrence and reform: Discourses of plagiarism management in universities Dr Wendy Sutherland-Smith Monash University, Faculty of Education Australia

2 2 Intellectual Property – genesis Anno Octavo Annæ Reginæ. __________________________________________ An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vefting the copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchafers of fuch Copies, during the Times therein mentioned Tallmo, Karl-Erik. (forthcoming) The History of Copyright: A critical Overview with source texts in five languages. Stockholm: Nisus Publishing

3 3 Romantic notion of authorship Pope v. Curll (1741). Alexander Pope sued Edmund Curll for breach of copyright. Lord Hardwicke said writing a text is ‘a solitary and self sufficient act of creation’ and granted ‘ownership’ rights to authors¹ The Romantic notion of authorship = proprietary rights a sole author who creates an original work through the fruits of [his] individual labour ¹ see Sutherland-Smith, Wendy. (2008) Plagiarism, the Internet and student writing: Improving academic integrity. London: Routledge, Chapter 2.

4 4 Universities that respond to plagiarism with an attempt to educate students are few; punishment is the norm. (Diane Pecorari, 2002, p.18)

5 AUSTRALIAGROUP OF 8 1 Australian National University 2 University of Sydney 3 University of Melbourne 4 University of Queensland 5 University of New South Wales 6 Monash University UNITED KINGDOMRUSSELL GROUP 1 University of Cambridge 2 University of Oxford 3 Imperial College London 4 University College London 5 Kings College 6 University of Edinburgh UNITED STATESIVY LEAGUE 1 Harvard University 2 Yale University 3 Columbia University 4 University of Pennsylvania 5 Princeton University 6 Cornell University Retributive discourse in plagiarism management

6 6 University discourse  All 18 universities locate plagiarism in Disciplinary or Academic Misconduct regulations  All agree that plagiarism is an ‘offence’  All 18 universities across three nations describe plagiarism in criminal law terms: misconduct (n=15); dishonesty/lack of honesty (n=12); misdemeanour (n=10); theft/intellectual theft (n=7); misappropriation (n=6); deceit (n=3); cheating (n=2); stealing (n=1)

7 Retributive discourse – penalty fits the act - reform occurs because of penalty Number of universities with this outcome Outcome specified by university policy n=16Reprimand the student (sometimes with requirements that the student complete plagiarism avoidance workshops, seminars or online tutorial help) n=15Fine the student a monetary amount n=18Fail the student in the particular assessment piece to which the academic misconduct relates n=18Fail the student in the unit to which the academic misconduct relates n=15Fail the student in all academic units for the academic year n=11Suspension or cancellation of any university scholarships, bursaries or awards granted to the student n=13Suspend the student from study for a period (usually not exceeding 12 months) n=17Expel the student from the university n=15Include incident on the faculty/university plagiarism ‘register’ n=14Rescind any degree granted to the student or downgrade a degree (example from Honours to Pass)

8 8 Questions to ponder… Institutional discourse is founded in the language of Law.  Does current textual construction allow alternative discourses to be considered/implemented?  How do current practices align with tertiary ‘ethics/ vision statements? “Build and maintain a sound ethical culture” “Many ethical questions will not be able to be simply resolved by deferring to authority or specific policy and procedure. …where appropriate, ethical questions should be discussed with others”*.  Are academics modelling a ‘culture of copying’?  Are students expecting to be spoon-fed? How to change?  Are universities responding to media hype? *Monash University (2009) Monash University Ethics Statement. Accessed 25 March Available online at:

9 Plagiarism: Media discourse in national Australian press WordTimes used Sample sentence from the text of the newspaper article Misdemeanour28Uni heads declare war on the cheats Theft92Academia must solve the plague of plagiarism Cheating112A creeping tolerance of degrees of cheating Dishonest(y)101There is a moral obligation to adhere to prescribed standards and expectations Fraud(ulent)86To steal someone’s ideas is comparable to stealing their soul Breach(es)47Plagiarism is enough to end your university career Conspiracy4There is something truly rotten in the state of academe Guilt(y)67Engaging in calculated deceit Illegal88Taking someone else’s work is illegal Unethical20Plagiarism is cheating and is not ethical practice. Plagiarism is rife!

10 10 Common university approaches to deterrence and reform  Technological responses Anti-plagiarism software Computer-aided feedback for student work  Procedural responses Continually review policies and processes External audits Best practice research / adoption /resources  Pedagogical responses Move to more exam assessment Alter assessment design Include ‘ethics’ (courses, individual units)  Holistic responses Total university involved – huge financial cost / time Plagiarism management part of workload for all staff / students

11 11 Discourse of sustainable reform Stephen Sterling (2004): universities, like other organisations are ‘living systems’ (p.46). think about learning as grounded in ‘the qualities of relationship rather than product’ and use discourse to reflect this (p.43) discourse of ecology: we can feed the living system to generate transformation ‘sustainable education is essentially transformative, constructive and participatory’ (p.35) What discourse(s) frame plagiarism in your institution?

12 12 References Atkinson, T. (2008) Textual mapping of imitation and intertextuality in college and university mission statements: A new institutional perspective. Semiotica 172, (1-4), pp Giroux, Henry. (2005). Schooling and the struggle for public life: Democracy’s promise and education’s challenge. Boulder,CA: Paradigm publishers. Macdonald, Ranald & Carroll, Jude. (2006). Plagiarism – a complex issue requiring a holistic institutional approach. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 31, (3), pp Monash University (2009). Monash University Ethics Statement. Accessed 25 March Available online at: Nonis, Sarah & Swift, Cathy. (2001). An examination of the relationship between academic dishonesty and workplace dishonesty: A multi-campus investigation. Journal of Education for Business, 77, (2), pp Pecorari, Diane. (2002). Original reproductions: An investigation of the source use of postgraduate second language writers. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Birmingham. Sterling, Stephen. (2004). Sustainable education: re-visioning learning and change. Bristol: The Schumacher Society. Sutherland-Smith, Wendy. (2008) Plagiarism, the Internet and student writing: Improving academic integrity. London: Routledge. Tallmo, Karl-Erik. (forthcoming). The History of Copyright: A critical Overview with source texts in five languages. Stockholm: Nisus Publishing


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