Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

May 21, 2010

To the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences
San Francisco State University

I am writing you this letter concerning academic integrity.  The policy regarding plagiarism from the Geography 658 syllabus states:

The university has established codes concerning proper academic conduct and the consequences resulting from improper behavior.  Please be aware of these codes.  Students are responsible for knowing the SFSU regulations concerning cheating and plagiarism that are in the University bulletin. Misconduct includes, but is not limited to, cheating on exams, fabrication of reports, assignments sources, interfering with another students work or helping another student cheat.  Plagiarism is defined as copying another person’s works without appropriate acknowledgement.  This includes 1) quoting another persons’ actual
words. 2) Paraphrasing another person’s words; 3) use of another persons’ ideas, opinion or theory; or 4) borrowing of facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless information is common knowledge. Additionally, do not cut and paste large quotes or other people’s writing into your short writing assignments.

It is easy to affirm policy and notify students of the penalties of plagiarism and cheating in an upper division course.  Like almost every course in Geography the Department, the policy is indicated in the course syllabi.  Fortunately, the department requires all students in the major to take Geography 103 Geographic Techniques.  The course provides an overview of geographic research methods and techniques covering: library research, data acquisition, statistical analysis, and introductions into using digital tools and maps for spatial analysis.  However, introductory courses in research are not offered in other departments in the School of BSS such as International Relations, Political Science, and History.  These departments require their students to perform rigorous research and writing to complete class requirements, and each department has their desired approaches students are expected to follow. These departments will provide a similar statement for housekeeping so that students conduct proper research and avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism.  However, for many students, there has never been instruction given on how to properly abide by these rules when it comes to academic writing and research.
Plagiarism is a violation of the San Francisco State University Code of Academic Conduct which may result in a student’s suspension or dismissal from school.
Plagiarism is dishonest.  It is the theft of another person’s work misrepresented as the words and ideas of one’s own. If a student commits plagiarism, then they are cheating themselves from academic achievement by not developing or writing their own thoughts.  It is wrong to steal another’s property; an author’s original words and ideas are their property for which they are entitled to receive credit when they are used by another.  The reputation of the institution is at stake.  If SFSU is known as a school where students plagiarize, the reputation can undermine or destroy the value of a diploma.
It is in the School of Behavioral Social Science to provide introductory courses to new students in their discipline.  A course dedicated to research methods and academic writing will give students a guideline on how to progress their analytical skills and writing above the standards expected of them.  It is important for departments to prepare their students in the discipline for the sake of maintaining academic conversations and expanding the reputation of the School. It is also important for departments to guide students to have conversations with a peer or a professor to establish ideas on given texts, that students cite at the appropriate point in their writing.  The idea of citations may raise some alarm among students.  With the help of introductory courses in writing and research, academic standards can be established by departments and proper research conduct can be taught to students.
The point is students should receive preparation to meet the academic standards for their majors. If you plagiarize, then you fail the assignment and the course. If you are guilty, then you risk being placed on academic probation registering for a number of semesters on your transcript. If a student already on probation is caught plagiarizing, then they are usually asked to leave the University.
     I understand that in the intellectual community of San Francisco State University, plagiarism is stealing.  There are only but a few more serious breaches of intellectual community.  Plagiarism is certainly the exception, not the norm in the Geography Department. I simply want to emphasize in this note precisely that plagiarism is a very serious violation of this University.  To avoid penalties of the worst variety, let the School of Behavioral Social Science provide the overview of research and writing that will progress academic conversations and expand the reputation of the School.


Kom Siksamat

San Francisco State University

Department of Geography and Human Environmental Studies


Remarks on Bartholomae

February 28, 2010

Out of all the student essays evaluated by David Bartholomae, I feel he was most impressed with the essay referred to in the article as the “clay model”.  He uses it as the example to compare the other essay samples to.  The challenge to the writer is to convey his thoughts under time constraints and pressure as he feels is appropriate for the University. His ability to use descriptions in his writing that identifies him as a researcher rather than a high school kid is able to draw the reader’s interest and attention apart from everyone else.  Bartholomae is also impressed with the writer’s rhythm and expressions which gives him command over his creative moment.  He was very impressed with the final sentence, “Creativity is indeed a tool which has to exist, or our world will not succeed in the future and progress like it should”.  I find the writer’s sentence is very expressive of his personality.  It is believable that he celebrates uniqueness not just as an individual’s desire, but also as a necessary product for the future of society.
Bartholomae identifies a break in the writer’s style when he changes tone from that of a student to a teacher.  He sees it as a slip which “basic writers” make, an inability to remain in control of the subject and yield authority.  I feel his writing is quite good for a student not having prior knowledge to the topic and not having instruction beyond basic writing.
The description of creativity is more impressive for someone who is identified a part of generation that Blum says, “shifts in trends and behaviors from authentic to performance.” A generation identified by Helene Hegemann in the Nicholas Kulish article “that freely mixes and matches from the whirring flood of information across new and old media to create something new.”  Bartholomae believes that writers must imagine for themselves.  His point is that we have the capabilities to create power discourse since we are our own tour guides of our experiences.  I think all individuals bring an authentic approach towards conducting themselves.  Everyone has different challenges and expectations to meet.  Being creative or authentic does not require one to be isolated.  With the benefits of technology and the popularity of social networks, uniqueness and individuality have become more interactive.
I’ve had a hard time between trying to determine what part of a person is more authentic or performance, or if one trait is better than the other.  I see beneficial qualities in both as the authentic self abides by the production of original work, while the performance self follows a collective model, where involvement is a requirement in everything we do.  I currently intern for the EPA, designing maps for specific toxic waste sites throughout California.  My maps are my creation; no one else has produced maps pertaining to the subject matter or the specified the same data before.  The maps are supported by an institution and are designed to motivate and encourage better decision making in human behavior and ignite better government intervention in protecting vulnerable communities.  I think the decision of abiding a principle of authenticity or performance is personal and a reflection of each individual acting according to their views.  I don’t anyone needs to struggle trying to follow one certain path. Originality and performance both require and emphasize multiple truths.

The Authentic Self and Performance Self

February 27, 2010

In the discourse of academic integrity, the identity between writer and their work is put through critical assessments of plagiarism.   In “Observing the Performance Self: Multiplicity versus Authenticity” moral judgments of plagiarism depend on fundamental views of personal-hood and values.  The author distinguishes between two identities of students: the authentic self and the performance self.  The authentic self creates work identified as theirs, derived from their own expression of their thoughts.  They are recognized as being “genuine, integral, individual”.  The other classification is the performance self.  For practical purposes, the follow a “whatever works approach”, meaning the performance self’s overall concern is getting to an ends regarding matters of presentations and writing.  While the authentic self celebrates uniqueness and individuality, the performance self sees little importance in personal achievements and originality.
The choice between performance and authentic is a personal that is determined by discipline and curriculum.  Students formulate different approaches towards conducting themselves academically based on the materials at their disposal, whether it’s access to libraries or electronic resources. The most important requirement for students to reach their potential is to find inspiration from teachers and subjects.  Teachers who demonstrate integrity and credibility can help create the proper environment to guide students to become flexible.  Being authentic does not mean one must sacrifice their principles in order to perform in group settings. Society requires collaboration not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace.  The purpose of institutions are help students reach their potential and to prepare them to function in collaborative settings.  Group projects, study sessions, and even athletics are preparatory measures.  Uniqueness does not have to be compromised.  It just has to be flexible. Individual contributions to any collaborative is theirs and creates a greater end: solitary. Participation may require a compromise of principles and may challenge one to remain critical and original.  It is up to the individual to learn multiple means and still be true to themselves.

Response to Something Borrowed and Ch. 2

February 10, 2010

“The Picture Problem” talks about intellectual property and copyrighting, using a case story of psychiatrist whose published papers on serial killers influenced a playwright and her work.  The problem was, the playwright decided to borrow enough of the psychiatrist’s work that the doctor’s associates recognized the similarities. Although not the entire play focused on the psychiatrist, details about the doctor’s work and personal life were incorporated into a fictional play, where the fact and fiction became blurred.  However, the issue which brought the psychiatrist to the brink of filing a lawsuit was that she was never given recognition or credit for her work used in the play.
The article compares the situation to cases of intellectual property battles from the music industry.  Examples of resemblance in song structures and melodies vs. theft of complete scores have been matters of importance with musicians since the classical era.  The author talks about these cases as examples of resemblance, inspiration, and influence, part of the creative process.
Eventually with the intellectual property doctrine, there are certain situations where you can steal. Time limits of 20 years are given to copyrights for  protection of economic incentives more so than intellectual preservation.
I believe that it all comes down to properly crediting the playwright’s sources. If she properly credited the psychiatrist’s stories as an influence into her play, then plagiarism is disconnected from the other issues, royalties. Towards the end, plagiarism seemed  disconnected from questions regarding the playwright’s ethics.  The psychiatrist seemed to become more concerned about her personal affairs tied into the fictional situations of the character.  The psychiatrist became more concerned with questions of her personal affairs relating to the fictitious situations. The people who recognize the character may question her credibility since her work and life are combined with imaginary sets of circumstances.

The chapter “Intertextuality, Authorship, and Plagiarism” focuses on originality and ownership of creative writing and literature.  Using examples of human influences, from parental upbringing or church scripture, to reactions of students and their experiences with writing, the author presents the question about the seriousness of plagiarism: is it so harmful?  Is it criminal? Plagiarism is viewed as fraud.  The author examines the use of other people’s ideas orally through quotes and in writing.  The author looks into new resources such as open access to creative and academic work online.  Questioning plagiarism has become so incensed that if writer provides citations and footnotes on materials used, readers wont be able to decide if every thought has been properly credited.  It is left to the writer to build one’s credentials as a student or scholar to be removed from suspicion.  Fear of one’s argument belonging to that of another person questions the concept of original thought.  It is believed that there is more than one way of saying something or interpreting work, but is it possible to be original?

Writers continue to  focus on the property of ideas, when scholars should be more concerned about who they are influencing. The purpose of writing  is suppose to reach a greater audience with one’s art and ideas. Only then can others learn from it, build on it, and come up with alternatives.

Response to Ch. 1

January 31, 2010

I consider myself fairly competent in properly citing academic work I incorporate into research papers.  After reading Chapter 1 of MY Word about examples of academic professionals who have been found guilty of plagiarism in one form or another, I was struck not only by the varying methods committed, such as double publications, but also the variance of penalties. While some academics may face criticism from their peers for not properly crediting contributions, others suffered career loss.  The author uses the chapter to provide different examples of plagiarism in practice.  I understand the difference between not properly using citations and completely fabricating a story. Students are reminded every semester about cheating and plagiarism with regard to examinations and the misuse of published materials used in research papers.  Penalties may range from an F as a letter grade on an assignment, and F as a letter grade for the course, to expulsion from the university.  If the severity for plagiarism for students may lead to the end of their higher education, then shouldn’t professionals found guilty be subject to a similar or even greater penalty?  The author mentions how standards in judgement for professionals vary between negligence and deliberate acts of plagiarism. Students, no matter if it is the use someone else’s work as their own or if it is improperly citing works, will be found guilty by their instructor and will be dealt with at least an F grade, as stated in the policies and regulations of the university. It would be beneficial if professionals be made to suffer as great or even harsher penalties for plagiarism than  just suffering from mere judgment of their ethics.