Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plagiarism Letter

To whom it may concern,
One of my close friends from high school was not allowed to graduate on stage with our class because he was punished for plagiarizing. My friend forgot to cite a couple sources and he also did some patchwriting, which is taking a piece of text and making it your own by deleting words and changing the grammatical structure of it. His English teacher was very strict on plagiarism and was outraged to discover all of his so called cheating. She didn’t explain well enough for her students to understand plagiarism. He didn’t know that what he did was considered cheating, but he was given an F in her class, wasn’t allowed to graduate, and he had to go to summer school anyways. Punishment for plagiarism is sometimes very unfair because the student is uneducated about this issue. I do not want other people to experience what my friend went through. The problem of plagiarism could be prevented if students are given proper knowledge on the subject instead of just punishing them. San Francisco State University could do a couple things to decrease plagiarism in their University.

Plagiarism is a huge issue in college. Plagiarism comes in many different forms, varying from improper ways to cite a source, using the same essay for a different class, patchwriting, and buying an essay online. According the Sarah Blum, more than 75 percent of college students admit to having cheated; 68 percent admit to cutting and pasting material from the Internet without citation (Blum). This means that more than half of students in a class are likely to plagiarize. This is a big problem because a lot of people are not doing their own work. It is immoral to cheat and the student learns nothing if they plagiarize. It is especially immoral to plagiarize because not only is it cheating, but it is also stealing someone else’s work and claiming it to be your own. Students still plagiarize mostly because of pressure and stress they have to deal with and other activities that take away time from their academics. (Stus, Eschavez, Acalla, Guillen, Zuniga, Sedlak, 7). Students will most likely use plagiarism as a shortcut to finish their assignments because sometimes they are too busy with their schedules and do not have enough time to come up with their own work.

In my English 114 class, we did a research project on what factors influence a student to plagiarize. We found some very interesting information that matched Sarah Blum’s research. On a survey of 46 students attending San Francisco State University, about half of them admitted to some form of plagiarism (class survey). The most common form of plagiarism was failure to cite sources properly and re-using the same essay for a different class. I can understand how most students wouldn’t consider re-using a text for a different class because it is your own work. Improper citations are most likely caused by lack of knowledge on how to cite sources properly. According to Group 1’s research project, “improper citations are mostly errors on the writer’s part and not an act of trying to get away with copying and claiming other people’s work (Gibb, Morazon, Liberal, Peralta, Siksamat, Lin, 6). This means most plagiarism is caused by lack of knowledge on how to avoid plagiarism, because most of the cases of plagiarism are mistakes on the writer.

I suggest creating a mandatory 1 or 2 weeks mini-course on plagiarism for all entering freshman and transfer students. According to Sarah Blum, it is easy for a school teacher to simply tell their students to give credit or cite their sources, but they “struggle to educate their students about what citation means and how to avoid plagiarism” (Blum, 165). This mini-course will define plagiarism and give the students an overview on how to prevent themselves from plagiarizing. This mini-course would be held in a large auditorium to be cheaper and, there will be a short and easy test at the end to show that the students paid attention. Students will have to retake this course if they fail the test. The plagiarism topic is very broad, but a quick course should be sufficient to explain plagiarism thoroughly. If students are taught about all the different types of plagiarism and how important it is to cite sources, they will be less likely to plagiarize.

Punishment for plagiarism in college is very severe. Most professors tell their students that any form of plagiarism or cheating will result in failure in the course and a referral to the dean. I think that some forms of plagiarism are more severe than the other and students should be punished differently depending exactly what they did. If a student were to buy a term paper from a “paper mill”, then they should be punished severely because that student knows for sure that is cheating and they did it anyways. Also, they put absolutely no effort into the assignment. Students that do this should get an F in the course and a referral to the dean. If a student were to plagiarize by re-using their own work for another class, if they had improper citations or, if they patchwrote, then the punishment should be less harsh. These students should be punished by a warning. If they do this multiple times then the students should take some sort of plagiarism classes just how drug offenders are required to take drug counseling classes. This kind of punishment will be effective because students will learn from their mistakes.

Professors should also give their definition of plagiarism in their syllabi and explain it thoroughly. Most professors just write plagiarism is not accepted, but many different majors have different definitions of plagiarism. If the professor tells their students exactly what they don’t want in their work than plagiarism should be less likely to occur.

I hope you consider these suggestions to solve the problem of plagiarizing in San Francisco State University. Most students are not aware that they are plagiarizing and they should not be severely punished just because of lack of education. With proper knowledge, there should be a big decrease in plagiarism at San Francisco State University.

Thank You,
Arsen Stus

Works cited

Blum, S. (2009), My Word!. Cornell University Press, pgs. 165

Gibb, Morazon, Liberal, Peralta, Siksamat, Lin. 2010, Group 1 Research Report. English 114.04, Spring 2010, San Francisco State University

Stus, Eschavez, Acalla, Guillen, Zuniga, Sedlak, 2010, Plagiarism: SFSU vs. Notre Dame. English 114.04, Spring 2010, San Francisco State University

English 114.04 class (2010), Class Research Survey, English 114.04, Spring 2010, San Francisco State University

Friday, May 7, 2010

Research Findings

There wasn't really much interesting things that I found from the surveys and interviews. It was pretty much as I expected. The only thing that surprised me was that race really had nothing to do with plagiarism. Different races act differently just because of their culture. There are paradigms that show that a specific race will be more likely to do better in school or do better in work. From our surveys and interviews we could not prove this.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My experience at SFSU

So far my experience at SFSU has been ok. My main focus in this school is to get an education. Since I live close by, most of my friends are still the same ones from high school. I go here for school and leave. I don't participate in any of the school activities. I think its a lot different for the people who dorm or come to SFSU from far away. I have classes everyday and I drive here everyday.
The application process for SFSU was very easy. My SAT scores were high enough and my GPA was above the average acceptance rate so I didn't worry about getting accepted. After I found out I didn't get into the UC schools I wanted to, I felt a lot of stress about getting into SFSU because that was my only choice. I wouldn't be able to afford to go into any other state school and community school was not an option for me. Blum described the application process for Notre Dame to be very stressful. I could compare to this because the application process for UC schools were a lot more stressful for me because of the Personal Statements required. I also felt a lot of pressure and stress for applying to college because both my parents and grandparents all went to college in Ukraine.
When I go to parties its not really celebrating for sports victories. The parties around here are mostly held because people want to have fun with each other. I think Notre Dame is overall a more conservative school because it's private and catholic. SFSU is liberal and a public school.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I like to read a lot of things about medicine and technology. I go online and look up diseases and I read everything about them. I learn all the symptoms, how to diagnose, and how to treat. This interests me a lot and its why I want to go into the medical field. I also read popular science magazines, Popular mechanics magazine, and Times magazine. I do not read a lot of novels or stories because I dislike it. For my other classes I read a microbiology text book, a chemistry textbook, and psychology text book.

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Inventing the University"

In Bartholomae's article, one of the main ideas was the difference between "reader-based" writing and "writer-based" writing. I think that "writer-based" writing is more of an authentic-self because the writer is not writing for a specific audience. He or she is writing to show what knowledge they have or to express themselves. "Writer-based" writing is not written to a commonplace. I think "writer-based" writing could also be general knowledge.

I think reader-based writing is intended for a specific audience. "Reader-based" writing is more of a performance-self. The results are important in this kind of writing because you are giving it to a specific audience that probably already has some knowledge about your subject. Its more difficult to write reader based than writer based because you have to know more about the audience and figure out how to relate to them. Reader based writing has a lot to do with audience awareness too. You have to know who your writing is meant for.

My way of "inventing the university" is by going to class and getting an education. I am creating or "inventing" my own career at SFSU.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chapter 3 of "My Word"

I definitely agree with Sarah Blum on her descriptions of the authentic and performance self. People who are more authentic do things for themselves. People who are more performance self tend to do things to prove to people how good or smart they are. I agree with Blum that the inspiration of authentic self people come from themselves. I believe they try to make themselves better people. Performance self people are inspired by other people and want to become better than them . I found it interesting that performance self people would do a lot to get the result they want . People would go as far as plastic surgery or even changing the color of their hair, like Madonna. I think of authentic self people to be more humble about their achievements while performance self people would probably brag about their accomplishments more.

I consider myself both an authentic self and a performance self. In sports I am an authentic self because I play for my own fun,exercise, and health. If I win its great, but if I don't...well at least I got some exercise out of it and I stay healthier. In school I am a performance self because I need to impress my teachers and the result is the only thing that matters and gets me ahead of others. You can try as hard as you can but fail because of the result wasn't what the teachers were looking for. In the long run I am studying for myself to become something in life, but the path to become an authentic self involves a lot of performance.

People who are performance self are probably more prone to plagiarism because they are more likely to go to farther extremes to get ahead of others. According to Sarah Blum, authentic self people are characterized by solitude. There is no point for them to teach because they are only doing thing for themselves. They don't care about the result as much as performance self people do.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Something Borrowed

Byrony Lavery was very wrong to copy from Dorothy Lewis's life, but I think this is a different type of plagiarism. I found it interesting that Dorothy Lewis was in a way proud that her story became part of Broadway because she would not be able to do what Lavery did. Lewis was still upset that Lavery did not give any credit at all. I think Lewis would have been happy if Lavery's play at least included something like "Inspired by the true story of Dorothy Lewis". Lewis would have been more than happy to give Lavery permission to use any part of her story to make such a great play. I think it made Lavery sound like an inexperienced writer when she said that she thought it was ok to use Dorothy Lewis's life story in her play. Plagiarism includes copying ideas as well, she should have known that. A lot of movies are based on true stories. If all those movies didn't include "based on the true story of...", it would make a lot of people angry because the moviemakers stole a part of their life and made their own story from it. In Lavery's case, I think it's as if she stole a part of Lewis's life. Of course without the things that happened in Lewis's life, a great play like "Frozen" would not have been created. I don't think Lewis ever had any intention on making the events of her life into a play. Lewis and Lavery should have worked together on this play.

I thought it was very interesting how Gladwell showed all the different songs that are similar. I decided to listen to a couple of them and I found some of the similarities that Gladwell was talking about. Of course it would make the original writer of a song mad if someone copied part of it and made more money off of it. Copying a whole guitar riff or base line and using it throughout the song would be wrong. I agree that copying something like Beethoven's 4 note "da da da duuuum" is ok because those notes could be played on different chords and they could be changed into different tonations.