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Copyright Concerns

Christian Liberty has received questions regarding possible copyright violation as a result of our policy requiring the inclusion of copies of pages from source materials with a student’s research paper. In response, we share with you verbatim from pages 31 and 32 of the book Using Sources Effectively: Strengthening Your Writing and Avoiding Plagiarism by Dr. Robert Harris, a recognized authority.

 As you locate each useful source, make a personal copy of it. Articles from printed journals can be photocopied; pages from chapters of books can also be photocopied; articles from the Web or electronic databases can be saved (and preferably printed out). The doctrine of fair use under United States copyright law allows you to make a photocopy of a copyrighted article for personal use in scholarly work such as writing a research paper. Why should you do this? There are several reasons:

A Copy Keeps the Context

A full copy of an article or section of a book allows you to see the quotation or information in context. As you think through the information, the context may cause you to reevaluate your initial interpretation.

A Copy Is a Handy Source

You can return to the source easily any time you wish. You will not need to look it up again or revisit the library. As you write your paper, new ideas or altered directions may cause you to return to a source and use something different or additional. The convenience of having the source always at hand cannot be overstated.

A Copy Can Be Written On

You can write notes, highlight passages, fold down corners, or whatever else helps you process and use the source. Reading an article on-line or in a printed journal and only making notes (whether handwritten or typed) is much less effective for most students than making copies and writing on them.

A Copy Is an Easy Reference

You can double-check the accuracy of the quotations, the spelling of names or technical terms, and the correctness of numbers and other information before turning in the paper.

 Copies May Be Required

 Many instructors require copies of sources to be turned in with the final draft of the research paper.

Copies Can Help Establish Authorship

As mentioned in Chapter 2, source copies (especially marked-up source copies) provide evidence that will help defend you in the event you are falsely accused of plagiarism.

As you can see from Dr. Harris’s text, making copies of source material is not only legal, but also advantageous for a number of reasons, including protection from false accusations of plagiarism.

On page 55 of his book The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism, Dr. Harris actually advises teachers to require photocopies or printouts of sources from their students when assigning research papers. He states, “Requiring copies of sources is one of the most powerful deterrents to plagiarism…” We have found this to be so. Since we have begun to require copies of sources, the number of plagiarized papers we receive has dropped substantially, and we are better able to delineate between students who have used their sources well and those who have not.

Prior to requiring copies of source materials, if we suspected plagiarism, it was up to us to search the Web or visit the library to see if we could locate the paper or the paper’s sources. Of course, these attempts were often unsuccessful. As a result, students who submitted papers secured from a free paper website which we could not locate could get the same grade as, or even better than, a student who had invested herself in this project with integrity.

Since requiring copies of sources, immediate and more accurate checking now occurs at the time of grading, allowing us to award scores in keeping with the student’s research and writing abilities. For this reason alone, we hope that families will be supportive of our efforts to deter and penalize plagiarism, and cheating in general, in our program.

If you are interested in becoming better informed on the subject, we recommend not only the two books by Dr. Harris previously mentioned, but also Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-Up Call by Ann Lathrop and Kathleen Foss.

Thank you for trusting CLASS.

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