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International Plagiarism Conference report
5 September 2012
Jessica Gramp, E-Learning Facilitator in UCL’s E-Learning Environments team, attended the International Plagiarism Conference in Newcastle upon Tyne in July 2012. Here, she discusses some of the highlights from the event.
Over three days in July 2012, I attended the fifth International Plagiarism Conference. Many of the presentations focused on helping students adjust to university study and improving their academic literacy. Here is a short summary of some of the sessions.
Dr. Erica Morris from the UK Higher Education Academy presented a session entitled ‘“Designing-out” plagiarism’. She argued that we should be providing students with choices for authentic assessment by asking the question, “What will students need to do when they graduate and how can we make assessment that builds these skills?”
Dr. Ide Bagus Siaputra from Universitas Surabaya discussed his research into determining which psychological behaviours lead to plagiarism. He found that procrastination followed by motivation levels are the best predictors of plagiarism. From this can we assume that redesigning assessment to ensure tutors receive regular updates about students’ progress can help them to avoid plagiarism? By helping those who are falling behind are students less likely to plagiarise their final work?
Lucy Cave from Aston University spoke about ‘Understanding plagiarism from the student perspective’. She argued that it is essential to continue to re-educate students as they progress through their studies and provide common referencing methods and advice. This last point is especially important for students studying modules across different departments. If every department uses a different referencing standard then it’s easy to see how students can become confused about how to reference their work.
Kirby Ferguson is a filmmaker and creator of the video project ‘Everything is a remix’. He talked about how people can learn new skills and techniques by copying others’ work. For example, when children learn to speak they copy what others are saying to learn the language. Kirby says that copying is the start of the creative process. Once you have a grasp of the technique you can then transform it into your own work. Kirby’s keynote presentation was an entertaining look at how ‘New ideas are made out of old ideas’.
A recurrent theme at the conference was that we must continue to support students with plagiarism education throughout their studies, not just at the beginning. It is encouraging to see more and more institutions moving away from a focus on catching and penalising students towards methods to educate students and avoid the problems caused by plagiarising in the first place.
Having said that, some institutions do not yet seem comfortable with the idea of opening up Turnitin to all students and they continue to strictly control its use. All UCL staff and students have access to a Plagiarism and Academic writing course in Moodle which allows them to use Turnitin to help them check they have referenced their writing correctly.
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