> Robin Wharton
Re-Thinking Plagiarism as Unfair Competition
24 mar. 2006 - In her article, “The Economics of Authorship: Online Paper Mills, Student Writers, and First Year Composition,” in College Composition and Communication, our moderator, Kelly Ritter argues that in re-thinking plagiarism and how we should respond to the so-called plagiarism “crisis,” we must take a closer look at the circumstances that lead some of our students to cheat by purchasing papers from on-line paper mills. She observes that, “In order to truly understand how and why students continue to engage in dishonest practices in the composition classroom, we thus must seek to understand how and when students see themselves as authors; how students see themselves as consumers, not just in the purchase of a college education, but also in a society defined by anonymity, convenience, and privacy; and how students reconcile the warring concepts of author and consumer in the space of their own writing.” Thus, in Ritter’s analysis, “these occasions of whole-text plagiarism may fail to ‘patch’ together source material [in the sense of Rebecca Moore Howard’s definition of patch-writing], but they still show a lack of recognition on the students’ part that authorship is valuable and that published writing is more than a product for the taking.” Ritter’s insight is valuable because it recognizes that even deliberate cheating is a strategic choice that students make based on a weighted analysis of “interconnected economic, academic, and personal needs,” and reveals how an emphasis on “ownership” and writing as property can contribute to an environment in which students come to view writing as a commodity and themselves as consumers, rather than as producers and authors.
not-read · plagiarism