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  • You Be the Judge

    What Do You Think?
    There is a lot of debate in academic circles about what counts as “okay” use of material and what is considered to be unethical use. These questions offer you the opportunity to think about and discuss what you think is okay in and out of the university setting.
    1. Sandra, a student writing about the Vietnam War, has collected over 10 separate newspaper accounts depicting an important battle in preparation for a lengthy research paper. As she writes her description about this battle, she makes sure to include proper citations whenever she uses direct quotations from the newspaper articles. However, she doesn’t cite the sources of facts such as names, dates, statistics, and geographical places.
    2. The assignment in Cody’s English class asks to write a three-page interpretation of a Shakespeare play. Glancing through a book about Shakespeare, Elizabethan Playwrights, Cody finds an analysis of The Tempest that he likes. Cody then extends the analysis to write his paper on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Although he cites the Shakespeare anthology he is using, he doesn’t indicate his use of Elizabethan Playwrights.
    3. In her opinion, Lyndsay feels that she has a lot to say but at the same time feels she can never find the right words to express her thoughts. All her sentences are always the same length and start in the same way. Her mother, fortunately, is a retired high school English teacher. She reworks Lynsay’s papers until they sound more professional and academic. “She only touches the grammar, and stuff like words and punctuation,” Lynsay says. “The ideas are mine. That’s the important part.”
    4. In Frank’s ENGL 115 class, multiple drafting and soliciting responses to and editing of those drafts are requirements of the class; students work in groups during class time to respond to and edit each other’s papers. Frank’s usual partners, Erica and Gail, are recognized as the best students in the class; therefore, Frank feels that rewriting the final drafts of his papers and including the exact words and sentence structures that they suggest would be in his best interest. Incorporating their exact words and sentences structures is especially easy, since the instructor tells students to write, in a different color ink, directly on their group members’ rough drafts.
    5. Lynn’s favorite book in high school was The Catcher in the Rye. She liked the smart-alecky tone of the book and how the main character’s thoughts were depicted with mild swears and informal phrases. The first sentence of this book, for example, reads, “If you really want to hear all about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born…and all of that David Copperfield kind of crap.” In her first paper for ENGL 115, a description of a real experience from her past, Lynn tried to imitate the tone of The Catcher in the Rye. Yet, though she wanted to make herself sound like the main character from that book, she was careful to only directly use single words or short, two-to-three word phrases.
    6. Ashley, a Chemistry major, finds out that her final history paper is due on the following day. Since there is no time left to do research and plan her topic-and since she still has to study for her final chemistry exam-she can think of only one solution to her problem; she jumps on the Internet, finds the site, and pays $42.50 to download what is advertised as “the perfect paper.”