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An Activity to Promote Recognition of Unintentional Plagiarism in Scientific Writing in Undergraduate Biology Courses

    Authors: Melissa Zwick1,*, Melanie L. Springer1, Julia K. Guerrero1, Daniella DiVentura1, Karen P. York1
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    Affiliations: 1: Stockton University, Galloway, NJ 08205
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    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1751
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    Abstract:

    Unintentional plagiarism frequently occurs in undergraduate writing assignments because students are unaware of the complexity of correct paraphrasing and citation rules. There is often a lack of formal instruction in science courses on proper paraphrasing and citation to reduce plagiarism. To address this deficit, we developed a brief activity to teach students to recognize the range of paraphrasing and citation errors that can result in plagiarism. The activity was used in a biology-focused scientific literacy course, but it can be incorporated into different instructional settings, with undergraduate students of all levels. During this classroom activity, part 1 addresses the nuances associated with proper paraphrasing and citation in scientific writing and part 2 asks students to practice paraphrasing and properly citing a passage from a scientific source. Pretest results revealed that students were proficient at identifying plagiarism when a citation error occurred but were less proficient at recognizing improper paraphrasing (patchwriting or direct plagiarism). Posttest results indicated that the activity was effective at increasing the students’ ability to recognize a paraphrasing error even when a correct citation was present. Students also reported higher confidence in their understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and that they are more confident in their ability to properly paraphrase and cite scientific source content.

References & Citations

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2. Howard RM 1995 Plagiarisms, authorships, and the academic death penalty Coll Engl 57 788 10.2307/378403 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/378403
3. Park C 2003 In other (people’s) words: plagiarism by university students—literature and lessons Assess Eval High Educ 28 471 488 10.1080/02602930301677 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930301677
4. Roig M 1997 Can undergraduate students determine whether text has been plagiarized? Psychol Rec 47 113 122 10.1007/BF03395215 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF03395215
5. Breen L, Maassen M 2005 Reducing the incidence of plagiarism in an undergraduate course: the role of education Issues Educ Res 15 1
6. Jackson PA 2006 Plagiarism instruction online: assessing undergraduate students’ ability to avoid plagiarism Coll Res Libr 67 418 428 10.5860/crl.67.5.418 http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/crl.67.5.418
7. Selwyn N 2008 “Not necessarily a bad thing …”: a study of online plagiarism amongst undergraduate students Assess Eval High Educ 33 465 479 10.1080/02602930701563104 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602930701563104
8. Roig M 2014 Critical issues in the teaching of responsible writing J Microbiol Biol Educ 15 103 107 10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.832 http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.832
9. McCabe DL, Butterfield KD, Treviño LK 2012 Cheating in college: why students do it and what educators can do about it Johns Hopkins University Press Baltimore, MD
10. Flaspohler MR, Rux EM, Flaspohler JA, Grossel M 2007 The annotated bibliography and citation behavior: enhancing student scholarship in an undergraduate biology course CBE Life Sci Educ 6 350 360 10.1187/cbe.07-04-0022 18056306 2104498 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.07-04-0022
11. Freeman E, Lynd-Balta E 2010 Developing information literacy skills early in an undergraduate curriculum Coll Teach 58 109 115 10.1080/87567550903521272 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87567550903521272
12. Holt EA 2012 Education improves plagiarism detection by biology undergraduates BioScience 62 585 592 10.1525/bio.2012.62.6.9 http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/bio.2012.62.6.9
13. Holt EA, Fagerheim B, Durham S, Siegel V 2014 Online plagiarism training falls short in biology classrooms CBE Life Sci Educ 13 83 89 10.1187/cbe.13-08-0146 24591507 3940467 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.13-08-0146
14. Divan A, Bowman M, Seabourne A 2015 Reducing unintentional plagiarism amongst international students in the biological sciences: an embedded academic writing development programme J Furth High Educ 39 358 378 10.1080/0309877X.2013.858674 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2013.858674
15. May ML 2013 A critical overview of progress in studies of migration of dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera), with emphasis on North America J Insect Conserv 17 1 15 10.1007/s10841-012-9540-x http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10841-012-9540-x
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17. Knisely K 2017 A student handbook for writing in biology Sinauer Associates, Inc Sunderland, MA

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2019-08-30
2021-01-23

Abstract:

Unintentional plagiarism frequently occurs in undergraduate writing assignments because students are unaware of the complexity of correct paraphrasing and citation rules. There is often a lack of formal instruction in science courses on proper paraphrasing and citation to reduce plagiarism. To address this deficit, we developed a brief activity to teach students to recognize the range of paraphrasing and citation errors that can result in plagiarism. The activity was used in a biology-focused scientific literacy course, but it can be incorporated into different instructional settings, with undergraduate students of all levels. During this classroom activity, part 1 addresses the nuances associated with proper paraphrasing and citation in scientific writing and part 2 asks students to practice paraphrasing and properly citing a passage from a scientific source. Pretest results revealed that students were proficient at identifying plagiarism when a citation error occurred but were less proficient at recognizing improper paraphrasing (patchwriting or direct plagiarism). Posttest results indicated that the activity was effective at increasing the students’ ability to recognize a paraphrasing error even when a correct citation was present. Students also reported higher confidence in their understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and that they are more confident in their ability to properly paraphrase and cite scientific source content.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Ability of students to correctly identify different levels of plagiarism in paraphrased examples when given source text from an ecology journal article. Data represent the percentage of correct student responses before and after the in-class intervention. = 262. McNemar’s test, * < 0.05. Good 1: properly paraphrased, correct in-text citation; Good 2: quotation, proper in-text citation; Fair 1: patchwriting plagiarism, correct in-text citation; Fair 2: properly paraphrased, no in-text citation; Poor 1: direct plagiarism, correct in-text citation; Poor 2: patchwriting plagiarism, no in-text citation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1751
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Ability of students to correctly identify different levels of plagiarism in paraphrased examples when given source text from a cell biology journal article. Data represent the percentage of correct student responses before and after the in-class intervention. = 262. McNemar’s test, * < 0.05. Good 1: properly paraphrased, correct in-text citation; Good 2: quotation, proper in-text citation; Fair 1: patchwriting plagiarism, correct in-text citation; Fair 2: properly paraphrased, no in-text citation; Poor 1: direct plagiarism, correct in-text citation; Poor 2: patchwriting plagiarism, no in-text citation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1751
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Student-reported understanding of plagiarism and confidence about aspects of plagiarism. Data are presented as mean ± SD. 5 = strongly agree, 4 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 2 = disagree, 1 = strongly disagree. = 262. Wilcoxon signed-rank test, * < 0.05.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. August 2019 vol. 20 no. 2 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v20i2.1751
Download as Powerpoint

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