Coming from the rhetoric and composition discipline, plagiarism is an often discussed topic in our classrooms. Many students come to writing classrooms with varying levels of familiarity with plagiarism. Some are taught the concept in high school; some are taught and forget; others are confused about the blurry lines in using source material; and yet others come from cultures or countries where plagiarism is either treated differently or perhaps even nonexistent. For instance, the often-cited example that China does not have copyright laws might come up, and Virginia Tech has a significant amount of international students from China. For a student unfamiliar with the conventions of academic writing in the United States, the concept of plagiarism is almost incomprehensible. In my own experience, students in my classes have copied and pasted large segments of articles into an essay without any context such as signal phrases, introduction or conclusion sentences, much less the required punctuation such as quotation marks and parenthesis around the citation.
In order to try to address this situation in a potentially new way, I propose to create a short video demonstrating how to plagiarize. By this, I mean to demonstrate how a writer might actually perform the act of plagiarism, whether they intend to or not. I will use screen capture software to show how to highlight text from an article, copy and paste it into a word processing document, and leave out the aforementioned punctuation and language signposts indicating these words are someone else’s. I will also demonstrate patchwork plagiarism by taking a quoted sentence and substituting certain words using the dictionary. With this video, I aim to add an element of humor to the situation while still making the point about how plagiarism is actually done in order for students from all kinds of backgrounds to understand what they should not do.