For two texts on plagiarism, I first recommend Jon Olson’s “Plagiarism Might Go Away if We Don’t Talk about It” (in Skorczewksi and Parfitt’s Conflicts and Crises in the Composition Classroom—and What Instructors Can Do About Them
The second recommendation: Michael Bond's Paddington Bear and the Busy Bee Carnival
-- a didactic story about words that begin with B
and not being a cheater. In this picture book, the earnest Paddington goes on a treasure hunt to locate words that begin with the letter B,
shadowed throughout the story by a boy sneaking along with his own pad of paper and an evil look, copying everything that Paddington finds. When at the end of the hunt it appears that a prize cannot be awarded because of this foul play, Paddington realizes that he is a bear
, adds that to his list of B
words, and comes out one ahead of the dishonest boy. Paddington wins.
Readers may wonder why the boy didn't find himself, a boy
, and add that to his list of B
words. Herein is the message about plagiarism. In doing one's own work, in writing about the world in our own words (or at least not wantonly/thoughtlessly using other's words because it seems much easier), we discover ourselves and our relationship to the things we are exploring with words.
Perhaps plagiarism's biggest theft is the taking of a unique, fresh, verbal perspective. Plagiarism robs the self of its own voice and others of the self's voice, too.