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October 2012
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January 2013

BRAWN get-together

Went to a delightful gathering this evening in Cambridge! The Boston Rhetoric and Writing Network (BRAWN) had a One-Last-Gathering-Before-We-Grade set up at a local bar & grill. I met some very nice people there from a variety of schools with an equally wide variety of interests, but all with a rhetoric/composition/writing degree or job or major. 

Near-Plagiarism: Still Plagiarism? or Just Similar?

Yesterday I was showing one of my ENGL 100 classes (Introduction to College Writing) at Framingham State University the web site for The Everyday Writer, my favorite college writing handbook. Published by Bedford/St. Martin's, The Everyday Writer's website offers a lot of helpful tips, even for the student who has not yet purchased the textbook. Since I had initially required it of my students (although later un-required it, since the bookstore could not get them, for some oddball reason), I wanted them to be aware of all the resources that the book's site had to offer. All semester I had been focusing solely on the 20 Most Common Errors whenever we dealt with grammar, not including when I suggested grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and mechanics improvements on their papers. Since it is designated as a Basic Writing course, many of the students had some of these errors in their papers, a lot of which (the errors) had to do with the limitations that aliterate individuals face. I'm defining "aliteracy" according to Kylene Beers' definition: those who know how to read, but choose not to read, either at all, or very much. I believe that aliteracy is very closely connected to the main problems of basic writers. (I wonder, is Basic Writers, as a term in Rhet/Comp, capitalized? or is it just a designation, such as "strong writers," or "expert writers"?).  That's why I focused on those 20 errors. Having given the students a diagnostic test in the beginning of the semester, and then again at the end, with different sentences, I found that students generally improved in identifying these errors, after having explained and focused on them and how to fix them.

Anyway, to my main point, ....I'm clicking along this website, and lo and behold, come across a video of Andrea Lunsford talking about Plagiarism in a Remix Culture. I nearly fell over, because my book --since 2005!--has been called Due Credit: Avoding Plagiarism in a Remix Culture. Also, in the beginning of the video is a student saying "You've got to give credit where credit is due." My jaw dropped to my knees. What the heck? I made a comment that that was pretty much the name of my book! And I thought to myself, when I was talking about my book in a workshop at CCCC, Andrea had said, in response to a question I posed about scholar credibility and open source publishing, that I should consider publishing my book in an open source format, to which I replied that some scholars actually NEED the credibility that a traditional publisher will give them, when they hand over the copyright to their work to a main publisher, despite my beliefs about copyright. Not everyone has the flexibility or pull to request special permission to publish their own work in various formats, especially after a publisher has taken the author on board.

At any rate, I mentioned the similarity to my book title, and the students recognized this surprise for what bothered me and said, after I said "I know Andrea," "Call her up!" Tell her about your title. To this I said that she already knew it. But maybe she doesn't. So, I think I will send her an email. Hence, the title of my post.