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Plagiarism Roundtable SAMLA 2020 : Plagiariasm as Scandal: Breaking Rules and Making Texts (Roundtable at SAMLA 2020)


When Nov 13, 2020 - Nov 15, 2020
Where Jacksonville, FL
Submission Deadline May 15, 2020

Call For Papers

As teachers of critical reading and writing, the “scandal” instructors of English probably discuss with our students most often is plagiarism. In fact, many students have learned to live in fear of being accused of plagiarism. As Rebecca Moore Howard states, “the pedagogical obsession with citation becomes a pedagogical obsession with denying students [their own] authorship.” Hanging over students’ heads are dire threats to their academic futures: failing a course, permanent transcript notations, suspension, or even expulsion. Research has shown, however, that most of the instances we might consider plagiarism have a correlative relationship to students’ lack of metacognitive critical reading and lack of comprehension about the mores of academic research and writing. In other words, students often are “breaking rules” as they are “making texts” not out of malice but out of ignorance. For students in transition courses—basic writing, first-year composition, and introductory literature courses—our work with them bleeds past content into schema required of them in college-level courses, including intellectual property. To make things even more scandalous, our own academic research schemas are changing because of the ways the internet has shifted our understanding of intellectual property and citation guidelines.

In light of the need to engage with difficult questions about how to de-scandalize plagiarism and allow students to rumble with the difficulties of shaping their intellectual schema for research and intellectual property, this roundtable discussion asks participants to develop short 5-10 minute discussions of 1-2 of the following questions:

1. What strategies help students better understand that plagiarism does not have one standard definition but shifts for every rhetorical situation?
2. What classroom activities can engage students in the conversation?
3. How can we ease students’ anxieties or fears about unintentional plagiarism? How can we help students feel more agency regarding plagiarism?
4. What assignments or approaches help students understand the concept of intellectual property?
5. What assignments or approaches help students go from a surface knowledge of syllabus or university handbook policies to a deeper understanding of how to apply policies in their writing?
6. What are the most constructive (or productive) ways to address violations of an academic honesty policy with students?

Attendees will be invited to join in the conversation with roundtable presenters, bringing their own questions and experiences to bear on the questions. Further, we encourage undergraduate and graduate students to be participants and to attend so that, as Margaret Prince says, “students [may] add their own voices to that conversation.” Please send proposals of no more than 250 words to both Co-Chairs Deborah Manson ( and Jill Parrott ( by May 15. Proposals should outline which of the above questions participants wish to address, summarize responses to those questions, and indicate how they plan to engage attendants through the roundtable format.

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