Monday, October 09, 2006

And Speaking of Schools...

You’d think they’d know the facts on copyright, plagiarism, and the like.

My son recently enrolled in one of California’s major universities. As part of his orientation there was a session on good writing skills, including correct use of copyrighted materials, how to cite sources, and what constitutes plagiarism. Since my son has heard my constants rants on this subject since my copyrights were violated seven years ago, he is familiar with this territory.

So he was a bit stunned to hear the professor state that if one quotes one’s own writing and does not cite it in the bibliography, one has just plagiarized oneself. He came to me with this tidbit of wisdom the other night, laughing, and wondering how that could possibly be true since the actual definition of plagiarism is about the use of someone else’s material.

Of course, he was right and the teacher was wrong. I quizzed him to be sure that the teacher had actually said that such use would be self plagiarization, as opposed to, say, the improper use of one’s own copyrighted materials—since publishers often have strict parameters about how much of an author’s published material the author him/herself can use in other writings.

But son was definitely told, by a teacher at a state university, that to use one’s own previously written material without citing it in the credits was to be guilty of the crime of plagiarism.

Maybe it’s all those sily expensive textbooks......


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