Academic Writing: Helping your students avoid plagiarism step one
The post about addressing plagiarism & paraphrasing
The big P word. Plagiarism. If you have taught English for academic purposes, you know this is a buzz term. As an EAP tutor, I am always going on about what plagiarism is, how to avoid it and I thought it was about time I wrote a short post about how I address plagiarism and how I help my students avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing sources. Now, this people is a tough cookie for both the teacher and the student!! This is my approach....One step at a time
1. Address plagiarism
You need to be clear about what plagiarism is from the beginning and how it is important to cite other people's views and not just act as if they are your own. Show them videos about plagiarism from YouTube, give them definitions from your own sources, from dictionaries, the lots. It is important to inform them. Also, be clear about the tolerance of plagiarism because sometimes it may not be deliberate (if your students mistype a date for example, do they fail or do you give them another chance?). Another important thing you need to keep in mind is that different fields use different referencing systems, so steer your students towards the one they will be using in their discipline.
Fun ideas: get your learners to make little projects (videos/infographics/posters/animations) of what plagiarism is.
Not such a fun idea: Ask loads of Q&As as well as CCQs related to what plagiarism is.
2.The plagiarism police
"You will be caught!" : S. Yeap. Let them know that you will find the plagiarism. Ask your learners to bring photocopies of the texts they used and paraphrased. Tell them hey should highlight the paragraphs they paraphrased. Inform them of the different software you will be using to scan their papers and detect plagiarism. It is a good idea to suggest that they check their papers for plagiarism with the same software as well.
So, now your learners know what plagiarism is expect the following discussion (I know I have had it a zillion times!):
Student: "Ok! I don't want to paraphrase sources because it is hard and I will plagiarise."
Teacher: "Hmmmm or ..............."
Student: "Yes, I will quote. I will use quotation marks for everything I put in my paper and I will copy their exact words and everything will be fine!"
Teacher: "It is not a good idea to have an essay full of quotes and no paraphrases. You also need to synthesise your information. So, you need to learn how to paraphrase and summarise information. Don't worry. You can do it! That's why I am here!"
Student: : ( .......turns to : )
3. The anti-plagiarism toolkit
Time to bring the big guns in. Let's get down to business people!Your students need their anti-plagiarism toolkit. So, time to equip them with the strategies they need to avoid plagiarising their sources when using sources in their texts and not just quoting directly. Time to talk about paraphrasing.
This is the most important skill your students need to develop in order to avoid plagiarising sources. Of course, there are a million ideas out there and loads of activities you can use. I will just mention a few things I do. First, let me tell you though that my motto is start simple and then move on. Brick layering.
Start with some simple activities:
- Key word transformations
- The Academic Word List (word families-synonyms)
- Nominalisation/Active voice vs Passive voice
- Noticing activities
Show your learners good examples of paraphrases. Use an overhead projector/smartboard and some sort of before and after examples and get them to notice the differences.I think it is better to do this as a group task and then follow up with some activities they have to do individually. Check to see if they have noticed all the changes and the differences in the structures, vocabulary etc. I get my learners to make tables of some common phrases and paraphrases/alternative phrases.
|Illustration by Daniel Rhone accessed here|
So, hopefully, with all this training, your learners can paraphrase at least at a sentence level, now it is time to paraphrase real texts. Time for some group work!
Divide your class into small groups. Give them a text and tell them to paraphrase it as a group. Then, tell the groups to swap their paraphrases. Once each group has another group's paraphrase, the new group needs to underline/highlight anything they think has been plagiarised and once they have done that, they give the text back to the original group. Each group now has their own paraphrased text with feedback from another group. They use this feedback to paraphrase more. The paraphrasing should go on until each group is happy with their final product.
I then suggest getting your learners to practise in pairs and finally individually.
Advice I give my learners: try to paraphrase into simple sentences and then aim for more complex structures.
Once they have paraphrased the sources they want to use, they cite them accordingly, and well, they will have a plagiarism free text.
Good luck on your anti-plagiarism venture fellow teacher. Feel free to add any other paraphrasing tricks in the comments section. this post will be followed up by a post on summarising so talk soon : )
Till next time..........
I will be talking about plagiarism on the 9th of August at the Belta & Tesl Toronto Web Conference on Reading and Writing. Log on, will you? For more info go to the Belta Belgium or Tesl Toronto website
|Conference logo courtesy of Belta Belgium and Tesl Toronto|