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Andre Duong, Seobon Kim, Jonathan Herrera, Hayley Seeno

Michael Lasley
September 23, 2016
Summary Assignment
The Politics of Plagiarism
In Rebecca Moore Howard's essay, Plagiarism, Authorships, and the Academic Death
Penalty, she advocates for a revised plagiarism policy to account for the methods that are
representative of what literature has become today, yet still respects traditional methods of
popularized academic textual values.
An unclear definition and concept of individual authorship allows for a weak definition
of plagiarism. The differences between academic subjects have created confusion which does not
fully address the question of what is and is not considered plagiarism. Academia is in need of a
plagiarism policy that both respects the fundamental rules and introduces alternative approaches
to plagiarism that takes into account the use of modern day literature. Howard states that it is ...
reasonable to revise definitions of plagiarism to account for the contingent nature of authorship
and its constituent discourses... among other important values which she clarifies (Howard 798).
Howard argues not for the prevention or curing of patchwriting, but rather, to allow
students to use this practice as a transitional tool to the fullest academic to enable growth without
feeling the pressures of the negative consequences related to the action of plagiarism. The author
emphasizes Roman writer Lucan and his idea that a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant
may see farther than a giant himself (Howard 789) in order to clarify her belief that a more
collaborative writing effort in which authors use previous works to build up on their own ideas

is, contrary to popular belief, not a diabolical and disgraceful practice but rather, a very
efficient preemptive step before the creation of a final draft. This would allow students to
organize thoughts and thus furthers the process of efficient rhetorical writing.
As technology pervades the everyday lives of people, the definition of plagiarism
continues to get very complicated. The growth of contemporary literature have seen internet and
message boards becoming vital parts of the brainstorming process which inevitably creates a
conflict of whose knowledge is whose. Since anyone can view anyones written thoughts on the
internet, ownership of intellectual property becomes hard to track which further clarifies a need
for an all-inclusive policy on plagiarism. The author wants to make clear however, that using
such knowledge is not an action to be looked down or frowned upon. The Internet user surfs
through a universe of information citing data from such sources can pose near-impossible
challenges for the writer and with multiple authors whose contributions are untraceable, the
matter becomes hopelessly entangled (803). Howard necessitates a clearer and more
overarching definition of plagiarism which brings to light all the confusing aspects prevalent
with the current, underdeveloped classification of plagiarism.
Rebecca Moore Howard conveys the need to take progressive steps toward revising the
current plagiarism policy to better reflect the intricacies in academic authorship. Her solution is
to advise academic institutions to not endorse a more lenient attitude of plagiarism, but rather, to
form a better understanding so that students can succeed in their academic pursuits. It is
important to note that Howard does not endorse students to use patchwriting as their own
original works, but rather, patchwriting is to be used as a step in the writing process. Using
someone elses work as their own can result in negative repercussions.