Helping students avoid plagiarism

Although not unheard of in the college setting, plagiarism has recently caused some alarm by seeping into the professional world.

With the recent high profile cases of historical authors, such as Steven Ambros, it has become a national issue receiving a lot of attention. Having a book that was almost guaranteed to be a best seller, Ambros wrote several pieces that were very near quotation without giving any citation, said Thomas Miller, professor and chair of the history department.

Sparked by the attention in the media of these cases, members of Phi Alpha Theta have organized a roundtable discussion on the subject at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Hibbard 705. The roundtable will present two different professors’ perspectives and beliefs about what historians can and can’t do regarding plagiarism.

Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, associate professor of history and adviser of Phi Alpha Theta will discuss plagiarism through the role of a researcher, accusation and what happens in the field of history, said senior Chris Cantwell, vice president of Phi Alpha Theta. Miller will also contribute to the discussion from the administrative perspective.

“We thought this might be an interesting topic simply because it’s very much in the news,” Miller said. “It’s something historians are always worried about.”

Plagiarism isn’t a particular problem at UW-Eau Claire, Miller said. However, technology has increased the availability of information on the Internet. There are many Web sites from which students can purchase a paper, he said.

The discussion will allow students to voice their opinion on the topic and get their questions answered about the plagiarism policy on campus, Cantwell said.

“Students may be scared to go to a professor and ask if they are plagiarizing,” Cantwell said.

“It’s basically an extension to all the attention it’s been getting in the media lately.”