We started our class discussion by summarizing, providing a thesis statement, and generating keywords for four of the weekly readings. The “Ethics of Plagiarism” article by Rebecca Moore Howard describes patchwriting as a way for some students to enter into the discourse community. Howard calls for change against the discrimination imposed by the institutional hierarchy. Nick Mamatas’ personal narrative about his experience working for PaperMill in “The Term Paper Artist,” provides an overview of his clientele and a strong argument suggesting that students do not understand thesis statements, argumentative writing, and proper citations; the American education system does not prepare students to participate in the academy. In “Taking on Turnitin,”writing center tutors challenge Turnitin plagiarism detector after having complaints from students. This article raises the question, “What will the technological innovations look like in the future?” Relating to the ideas of plagiarism and patchwriting, “Sexuality, Textuality: The Cultural Work of Plagiarism” by Howard suggests a metaphorical masculine dominance, historically found, in the term plagiarism. She believes that the term plagiarism should move to “less culturally burdened terms,” specifically “fraud, insufficient citation, and excessive repetition” because they provide more context to the situation (487).
All of these articles address a greater question, “What constitutes plagiarism?” and as Dylan suggests, “Do you see yourself as a patchwriter?” As a class we began addressing these questions and generating more in response. How can a teacher determine intention, especially through their own possible biases as an instructor? How does one take intentionality out of the equation? The criminalization attached to plagiarism creates a barrier between students and teachers because technologies, such as Turnitin, assume that the student is automatically plagiarizing. In this day and age how does one say something that has not been said before? Going back to Howard’s discussion in “Ethics of Plagiarism,” would summarizing information be patchwriting? Is this blog post then a form of plagiarism in the eyes of society? Our discussion shifted to the ethics behind teacher feedback and the expectations that come from comments on student papers. Nancy Sommers argues that students should write for an audience and enter into a conversation. She also says that instructor feedback is often written to the paper rather than the student directly which does not always lead to constructive criticism. If teachers want students to learn from instructor feedback, students should mimic their language: Does this result in patchwriting? This brings us back to the question, “What constitutes plagiarism?” Should we continue using plagiarism as a catch-all term?