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Page history last edited by Laura Gibbs 11 months, 4 weeks ago


Original Writing versus Copying


To help make sure you understand the difference between original writing and copying, a.k.a. plagiarism, I have collected some things for you to read and review: (1) an article about plagiarism from the OU Daily, and (2) some plagiarism examples specifically relevant to the type of writing you will be doing for this class.


OU Academic Integrity Systems offers class on plagiarism. This is a very useful article from the OU Daily, especially the part about "patchwork plagiarism" and copying sentence-by-sentence with just some light editing. 


In my experience, people usually don't decide to plagiarize, but they might end up plagiarizing accidentally because they run out of time, or they get confused about the assignment, or maybe they copy-and-paste, intending to go back and edit later but forgetting to do so. 


So, my advice is to avoid these situations that might lead you to plagiarize by accident:


  • Running out of time. If you do not give yourself enough time to complete an assignment, you might be tempted to plagiarize. But with this class, you can always just finish the assignment the next week if you run out of time. So, if you don't have time to finish a story, that's okay: you can finish it the next week, along with some extra credit to make up the missing points.
  • Feeling confused. If you are confused or frustrated by the assignment, you might be tempted to copy some or all of the assignment just to get it over with. Please resist that temptation, and contact me instead. I am glad to answer any questions you have about an assignment and to brainstorm about some way to make the assignment more relevant and useful.
  • Copying and pasting. Sometimes people copy something and then try to change it afterwards... except that they forget which words they copied and which words were their own. So, to avoid this problem, my advice is not to look at your source material when you are writing. Look at your notes, yes, but not the source. That way you will be sure to use your own words.


Meanwhile, the very best advice I can give you is this:




Every week in this class, you will be retelling stories in your own words. That means you will work with an already existing story to begin with, but you will be rewriting that story and changing it in order to create a new version of the story. You might change the characters, or the plot, or the setting; you might choose a different style for the story, or tell a prequel, or tell a sequel... and the more creative you can be in your storytelling, the less likely it is that you will plagiarize by mistake. Every story can be retold in an infinite number of different ways, and the more you explore what really intrigues you about a story, the more you will enjoy the assignment, and the more your readers will enjoy the story you write too!


EXAMPLES: AESOP'S FABLES. Here is an example of an Aesop's fable told in three different ways. One example is a form of plagiarism ("patchwork plagiarism"), but the other two examples are truly new versions of the story. Please look at these examples carefully and make sure you understand the difference between plagiarism and creating a truly new version of the story.


A comfortably plump dog happened to run into a wolf. The wolf asked the dog where he had been finding enough food to get so big and fat. 'It is a man,' said the dog, 'who gives me all this food to eat.' The wolf then asked him, 'And what about that bare spot there on your neck?' The dog replied, 'My skin has been rubbed bare by the iron collar which my master forged and placed upon my neck.' The wolf then jeered at the dog and said, 'Keep your luxury to yourself then! I don't want anything to do with it, if my neck will have to chafe against a chain of iron!' Original version: "The Wolf, the Dog, and the Collar," Aesop's Fables, trans. by Laura Gibbs (2002). Online at aesopica.net.
A rather fat dog happened to encounter a wolf. The wolf asked the dog where he had been finding enough food in order to get so fat. 'There's a man,' said the dog, 'who gives me all this food to eat.' The wolf said, 'And what about that spot that's rubbed bare there on your neck?' The dog answered, 'The iron collar rubbed my skin bare. My master made it and placed it upon my neck.' The wolf then laughed at the dog and said, 'Keep your luxury! I don't want anything to do with that stuff, if my neck will have to chafe against an iron chain!" Patchwork plagiarism. This version was copied and pasted, and then edited. It follows the original sentence by sentence (italics) and sometimes word for word (bold).
Once upon a time, a fat, dumb, and happy dog ran into a wolf. The wolf was curious because the dog looked very well-fed while the wolf was all mangy and skinny. So the wolf said to the dog, "Listen, brother, how do you find so much food to eat?" The dog burped and then explained, "I've got a master - and he always gives me plenty to eat." Then the wolf noticed that there was a bare spot on the dog's neck. "How did you get that bare spot on your neck?" the wolf asked. "That's from my collar," said the dog. "It's something my master makes me wear around my neck. It's not all that bad, really. You can get used to it. Although now that I'm getting kind of fat, uh, the collar is a little tight." The wolf just laughed at the dog and said, "Well, you can keep your food for yourself, slave! My freedom is worth more to me than eating well." Good retelling! It is similar to the original story, but it is not a copy. It has the same characters and plot as the source story, but the flow of the sentences is original, and there are many details here which are not from the source story. It works!

Mr. Wolf came home empty-pawed one day, and Mrs. Wolf growled at him.


"Okay," Mr. Wolf admitted, "I didn't bring anything home for us to eat. But listen to this - I met this dog, and, oh, he was big and fat, so I thought for sure he could help me find some food. He told me that there was a man, a human being, who gave him lots of food, and I was getting pretty excited - it sounded like a great deal. But then I saw this bare spot on his neck, all rubbed away and kind of sore, and I asked him how that happened. And he told me it was from the iron chain that he wore around his neck."


Mrs. Wolf barked, "A chain? Around his neck? You've got to be kidding!"


"No kidding," said Mr. Wolf. "The man put that iron chain around his neck and that dog just went along with it. So I told him: no way. I'd rather be hungry and free than wear some man's chain around my neck."


Mrs. Wolf howled in approval, and then the two of them ran off into the woods in search of something ... anything ... for supper.


As he ran along in the darkness, the wolf thought to himself, "Hmmmmm, I wonder what dog meat tastes like!"

This is an even more CREATIVE retelling. In this version, there is a new narrator: Mr. Wolf is telling the story in answer to Mrs. Wolf's questions.  It's the same basic plot with the same characters, but it has a completely new feel to it because of the new storytelling style.



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