NMA Campaign Issue: Plagiarism

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A Note About NMA Message Frameworks
NMA message frameworks are intended as starting points for NMA members to create their own messages. These might include (but are not limited to) letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, comments for local radio or television stations, and so on. Remember: the more locally grounded your message, the more likely it is to be included in local media. Feel free to add information based on your experience, your class, and/or your writing program.

NMA Message Framework - Plagiarism

Note: This framework is based on (and uses material from) the WPA statement on plagiarism, Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices. Media messages based on this framework should acknowledge the WPA statement as their source.

In an instructional setting, plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else"s language, ideas, or other original (not common knowledge) material without acknowledging its source.

Most current definitions of plagiarism fail to distinguish between plagiarism and misuse of sources. Plagiarism consists of submitting someone else"s text as one"s own or attempting to blur the line between one"s own ideas or words and borrowing them from another source. Misuse of sources consists of carelessly or inadequately citing ideas and words borrowed from another source.

Intentional plagiarism is dishonest and unethical; it is wrong. Students who are aware that their actions constitute plagiarism -- for example, copying published information into a paper without attributing that source for the purpose of claiming that information as their own, or turning in material written by someone else -- are guilty of academic misconduct.

Plagiarism can be deterred or avoided through attention to students and writing throughout a class. When assignments are generic and not classroom-specific, when there is no instruction on plagiarism and appropriate source attribution, and when students do not work through a process of writing and revising that is guided by feedback from instructors and classmates, teachers often find themselves in the adversarial role of "plagiarism police" instead of a coaching role as educators. Just as students must live up to their responsibility to behave ethically and honestly as learners, teachers must recognize that they can most effectively encourage and discourage plagiarism by structuring assignments and processes that help students define and gain interest in topics developed for papers and projects.

Resources for More Learning about the Perceived Threat of Plagiarism

Tips for Attracting Attention of Local Media

  • Template Statement on Plagiarism (for adapting to local contexts) in Word or PDF format.
  • Sample of how the template statement was adapted for use at Eastern Michigan University (PDF format; see below also.)
    • Act locally

    You are more likely to receive a hearing if the target for your media action is local -- campus and/or local newspapers, local public radio stations, even local television network. Local media are interested in local stories.

    Write what"s most likely to get you heard, at least initially. In newspapers, letters to the editor and/or opinion-editorial (op-ed) pieces are most likely to be published. Issues like those in the NMA frameworks are current and timely.

    Take advantage of existing stories. It"s often easier to advance a position with it"s put in the context of something already determined to be newsworthy.

    Choose a local story to tell. Media outlets like details -- about programs, students, and/or classes. Choose a story in which to ground your message and make it lively.

    • Be concise and don"t overcomplicate

    Writing and reading practices are complicated. When communicating with audiences outside of academe, make your case in the most clear and straightforward way possible. Avoid jargon and use clear, simple language. The NMA message frameworks are intended to help.

    Use the five Ws for your information (who, what, when, where, and why)

    Be honest and accurate. Understate your case. It is better to set reasonable expectations and then exceed them to promise more than you can deliver.

    If you are targeting radio and/or television reporters (or outlets), practice your responses before your interview. Choose key points to make, but be spontaneous in your discussions. Make sure you don"t sound rehearsed.

    • Know your target

    Read newspapers, watch the television programs and listen to the radio programs you are interested in having cover issues or events that you are working on. You need to be familiar with their approach(es). You also need to use the conventions that they use for your responses.

    Understand the news planning process Find out deadlines and decision makers at news media organizations. Who assigns stories? What factors impact what gets covered? When are deadlines?

    Evaluate advertising. What audience is the publication or program trying to reach? Pitch stories that target a similar audience.

    • Become a resource

    Develop relationships with reports who cover your issue(s). What are they interested in? What do they want to write about?

    Be reliable. If reporters call you, return their calls as soon as possible.

    Don"t overreach. If you don"t know the answer to a question, say "I don"t know" rather than coming up with something you aren"t sure about.

    Know your opposition. Be ready and able to help reporters with alternative perspectives or stories that may not involve you or your organization so that they"ll return to you as a regular source.

    Media tips are based on and include material from Stone's Throw Strategic Communication, Manhattan Beach, CA

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