writing

Ethics in the Modern World

I was a little disconcerted Friday morning to walk into my classroom carrying my take-home exam in my hand, as prepared as I could be to take the ACS final that morning, and find the room abuzz with activity. Most, but not all, of the other students were huddled up comparing notes, not on the final, but the take-home exam. Now, the instructions on the front sheet of that exam were explicit. We were not to discuss the exam with anyone other than the professor, nor to use the internet as a resource while taking it. I complied. I was dismayed to see how many of my younger classmates were blatantly disregarding the ‘no discussion’ rule, and I have no reason to doubt they had also been using the internet liberally during their efforts.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, it’s anecdotal to the culture that seems to have forgotten what plagiarism is, and why cheating is wrong. While we talk about how you can’t steal ideas (like the guy I saw ranting about how Guardians of the Galaxy had totally ripped him off. Seriously? Sigh…) and how to ‘file off the serial numbers’ to rework fanfiction into a more commercial form, we are talking about ideas. Not word-for-word, with maybe the names changed. That is never ok, and it’s cheating, just as much as my classmates that morning.

D. Jason Fleming shares the story of a recent plagiarism case over on his blog. “Because, see, Remix Culture isn’t plagiarism culture. Go to Creative Commons and look for the most open license you can find. What you’ll find is the Attribution license, which lets you do any damn thing you want with the work in question, including make money off of it without paying a thing to the creator — but you must give the creator credit for creating it.”

Read the rest at Mad Genius Club… 

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6 thoughts on “Ethics in the Modern World

  1. Given that Stephen Ambrose was called on his blatent plagerism shortly before his death and his response was “I’m a popular historian so I don’t have to follow the rules” I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

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  2. Stuff like this is why I have serious trepidation about entering into teaching. I was raised on the “will not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate those who do”-code, with expulsion being the default recourse. So you can imagine how well I’d take, as a professor, saying “No collaboration or internet…” only to find clear collaboration occurring. Needless to say, it’d be epic, and precisely for students like yourself who didn’t take the easy route. (We won’t even get into the “Hmm, so an undergraduate student just gave me a grad student answer on this question. Quick google search…aha, there’s our evidence, here’s our 0 points.”)

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    • I’m sure if I had taken my concerns to the professor he would have done something. But when the majority of the class is doing it… Hard to write down names, especially in this class, where they aren’t from this school, they just took the summer course here. I don’t know names. It’s dismaying to know this is the norm for these kids, I doubt any of them paid any attention to that front-page warning.

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    • No, that would be why ‘group assignments’ are so popular. I loathe those with a burning fire, because I’m the only one who actually does any work, usually. Unless I take charge and delegate with clearly defined roles, complete with emails stating who is responsible for what, so I have documentation to show the professor who fell down on the job.

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