Digital Culture Library Issues

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

On my campus, as well as others, there has of late been a terrific focus placed upon student plagiarism. I’ve been asked to teach a handful of plagiarism workshops (4 down, 1 to go…this Thursday, if anyone’s in town) and I was recently asked to produce a “statement” of a sort to be used in advertising a conference on Academic Integrity that is being held here at UTC. So I said:

There is a lot of confusion among students as to citation in academic writing, including what needs a citation and who should be cited in specific circumstances. My feeling is that if we continue teaching the specifics of what, who, and how, we’re missing the real issue. Students need to understand why we insist on citation, and the purpose and goals of this very specific sort of writing. We as educators need to encourage students to be willing to see themselves as part of the academic dialogue, as a piece of the ongoing attempt at the creation of knowledge. Students need to see academic writing as a conversation between themselves, the professor, and the rest of the Academy, and not as a hoop to jump through or a check-mark on their transcript. A large part of their vision of academic writing is formed by the way educators present assignments, and I think that we can better serve the student by re-imagining the way this is done.

Plagiarism is something that strikes me as old news…always been here, always will, and until we can convince professors that traditional “write a paper on X” assignments aren’t the best sorts, we’ll always have to deal with it. I need to find a way to get my workshop online…it uses music as a metaphor for academic writing, and shows how something can move from “bad” reuse to “ok” reuse, and how to think about academic writing in a different way. I believe that the current “millenial” student really has a difficult time understanding plagiarism, and the workshop is designed to get them thinking in a new way. I’ll put that on the pile of things to do in the next year or so…

By griffey

Jason Griffey is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at NISO, where he works to identify new areas of the information ecosystem where standards expertise is useful and needed. Prior to joining NISO in 2019, Jason ran his own technology consulting company for libraries, has been both an Affiliate at metaLAB and a Fellow and Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and was an academic librarian in roles ranging from reference and instruction to Head of IT at the University of TN at Chattanooga.

Jason has written extensively on technology and libraries, including multiple books and a series of full-periodical issues on technology topics, most recently AI & Machine Learning in Libraries and Library Spaces and Smart Buildings: Technology, Metrics, and Iterative Design from 2018. His newest book, co-authored with Jeffery Pomerantz, will be published by MIT Press in 2024.

He has spoken internationally on topics such as artificial intelligence & machine learning, the future of technology and libraries, decentralization and the Blockchain, privacy, copyright, and intellectual property. A full list of his publications and presentations can be found on his CV.
He is one of eight winners of the Knight Foundation News Challenge for Libraries for the Measure the Future project (, an open hardware project designed to provide actionable use metrics for library spaces. He is also the creator and director of The LibraryBox Project (, an open source portable digital file distribution system.

Jason can be stalked obsessively online, and spends his free time with his daughter Eliza, reading, obsessing over gadgets, and preparing for the inevitable zombie uprising.

2 replies on “Plagiarism and Academic Integrity”

Expecting America’s youth to come up with original thought? Tsk, tsk.

Tell them it’s like taking someone else’s weed without permission. That ought to clue ’em in.

Keep fighting the good fight.

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