Teaching Citations and Plagiarism

“Borrowing Others’ Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism”
Alastair Pennycook, University of Melbourne

In this seminal piece on plagiarism, Pennycook calls for instructors to understand plagiarism “in terms of complex relationships between text, memory, and learning” rather than as “a simple black-and-white issue” (1996, p. 201). Pennycook explores the cultural, historical, and particular nature of citation practices in Europe, the United States, and China, suggesting that instructors consider the difficult nature of both language learning and textual borrowing.

“Staying out of Trouble: Apparent Plagiarism and Academic Survival”
Pat Currie, Carleton University, Ottawa

In her exploration of one student writer’s “apparent plagiarism” case, Currie examines the many factors contributing to the difficulty of source attribution. Following Pennycook’s lead, rather than assuming a deficit pose, Currie focuses on the various contexts in which student behavior is situated. The factors leading to her particular case study participant copying material in a university course center around “textual borrowing as a survival strategy” (Currie, 1998, p. 7).

“Common Knowledge, Learning, and Citation Practices in University Writing
Ling Shi, University of British Columbia

In this interview study, Shi explores the cultural differences surrounding what counts as common knowledge. The findings indicate that students often struggle in citing disciplinary knowledge gleaned from classroom lectures and exhibit “difficulties to unpack memorized knowledge in order to draw boundaries” between their own and others’ knowledge (Shi, 2011, p. 329). Shi’s work also suggests that citation practices and difficulties are highly individualized, so we are unable to generalize across university student groups.