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Plagiarism: a study in the spectacular fall of Dr. Chris Spence!

Exercise One

In this exercise, you will have the opportunity to help Dr. Spence get it right!  The exercise divides into two parts.  First, identify a section of text in Dr. Spence’s article, Without School Sports, Everyone Loses, which he plagiarized.  Second, offer an appropriate remedy as though you were including the original author’s ideas in your own essay.  

Part One: Identifying the plagiarized text

Under the Plagiarism Detection heading, we saw that Turnitin works by comparing student assignments against a databank of webpages and pre-existing student work.  In many cases, plagiarism can be detected and the original author(s) found using one of these sources.  Seven months after the initial story broke; Dr. Spence gave an interview with the Toronto Star.  He partially explained his research process in this way, “’You don’t sit down and say, ‘I’m going to start plagiarizing now.’ You are just going through different ideas and you read a lot and you take notes.  You’re working on something, you go away, you read something, you write it down… I’m a fairly prolific reader, so sometimes I just read ideas that meshed with my own.’” (Rushowy, July 26, 2013, p. A1)

As it turned out, Spence appears to have concentrated his reading for the school sports article exclusively on the Internet.  In fact, nearly the entire article is verbatim copying from different information sources on the Internet.  Practice detecting plagiarism and finding the original author by searching with a segment of article text using an Internet search engine or the Library’s Search Everything box.

In Without School Sports, Everyone Loses, Spence (2013) wrote, “On the athletic field, I learned that a group of people can perform so much better as a team than as the sum of their individual talents.” (p. A15)  Now enter this passage, in quotation marks, in an Internet search engine or the library’s Search Everything box.  Apart from news articles reporting on the plagiarism scandal, you will find the passage in its original home, on page 9 of Bill George’s book, True North: Discover your authentic leadership, published in 2007.  The plagiarized passage is on display in the Evidence Gallery.

 

Evidence Gallery

      

Part Two: Getting it Right!

Let’s help Dr. Spence get it right!  In the second part of the exercise, write as though you were using this quotation in your own assignment.  Incorporate the four elements of quotation marks, in-text citation, reasonable length, and context.

Sample Answer

In True North: discover your authentic leadership; Bill George (2007) profiles chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo Bank, Dick Kovacevich.  Speaking of the connection between leadership and sport, Kovacevich says, “On the athletic field, I learned that a group of people can perform so much better as a team than as the sum of their individual talents.” (p. 9)

Elements:

"Quotation marks enclose the directly quoted text."

There is proper use of in-text citing: Bill George (2007)... (p. 9)

The direct quote is a reasonable length.  In this case, it is twenty-seven words.

Relevant context has been included:  In True North: discover your authentic leadership; Bill George (2007) profiles chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo Bank, Dick Kovacevich.  Speaking of the connection between leadership and sport, Kovacevich says,

Hint: To add relevant context to explain your quote, you will need to become more familiar with the original source.  This is not really an added step, because this work is a natural part of your research for an assignment.  Just remember to take good notes.

For your References page: see the appropriate entry under the References tab.

Exercise Two

In the same article, Dr. Spence (2013) wrote, “We are challenged through sport to use our minds in guiding our bodies through the dimensions of time and space on the field of play.” (p. A15) Using this passage, try your hand at detecting the plagiarism, finding the original source, and writing as though you wanted to use this quotation in your own assignment.

Sample Answer

Hey, why not ask your professor about the plagiarism workshop?  We'll work on an answer together.

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