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Plagiarism souvenirs

Patchwriting rearranges words and phrases, substitutes synonyms, or deletes a word from the sentence.

Most teachers will tell you that when assigned a research paper, students enter a few keywords into a Google search, download some relevant webpages, cut and paste passages into a new document, add a few transitions, and turn it in.  Starting at an early age, they master information retrieval, not knowledge formation, because the material passes from the website to the plagiarized paper without it finding residence in the student’s mind.

With increasing use of online resources for research, students will continue to find it easy to answer to a question, but not to understand, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information for the depth of learning needed to write a research paper.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project’s recent report, “How Teens Do Research in the Digital World” reveals that students use the following sources to research a topic in order of frequency:

1.    Google or other online search engines (94 percent)
2.    Wikipedia or other online encyclopedia (75 percent)
3.    YouTube or other social media sites (52 percent)
4.    Their peers (42 percent)
5.    SparkNotes, CliffNotes, or other study guides (41 percent)
6.    New sites or major news organizations (25 percent)
7.    Print or electronic textbooks (18 percent)
8.    Online databases such as EBSCO, JSTOR, or Grolier (17 percent)
9.    A research librarian at their school or public library (16 percent)
10.    Printed books other than textbooks (12 percent)
11.    Student-oriented search engines such as Sweet Search (10 percent)

While the first five sources may offer a broad overview of a topic, they are not conducive to academic research because they lack the rigor and depth of information to challenge students intellectually, as the last six sources could.  While Google offers Google Scholar search engine for scholarly sources, it is buried on Google’s home page.  Alongside Maps, YouTube, and Gmail at the bottom of <More’s> pull-down menu, <Even More> links to a page where Google Scholar appears toward the bottom below Google Shopping.  The Scholar and associated scholarly searches are interred six feet under, so to speak, in Google.

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