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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Friday, November 27, 2009

To Dr. Meyer

I had no way to respond to the comment you sent so am posting this note.  Although I do not 100% agree with your concern that posting my mid-term responses is "unethical" (I'm sure lots of students share their papers with one another after their graded and these responses were posted after the mid-term grades were published), I did delete the post.  I also don't really see how plagerism could be a concern.  Nonetheless, I do wish to adhere to very high standards and, as the post did include test questions, it occurred to me that the teachers may use the same tests in succeeding semesters and making the questions potentially available to future students of those classes is probably not wise.

Thank you for voicing your concerns.  My goal is only and always to honor the Lord and I wish to have "no appearance of evil" in these blog postings.  I will avoid sharing test information in future.

**UPDATE**  I would like to encourage all to read through the comments thread on this post.  We have an edifying and educational discussion going!  :-)

12 Comments:

Anonymous Dr. McCreary said...

Dear Author,

It was with interest that I read your response to Dr. Meyer even though I did not see Dr. Meyer's communication. It is my understanding that anytime someone submits something (paper, test, post) to a university as a class assignment for credit that the University now has joint ownership of the material and the student needs permission from the university to publish it. This is why if a student writes and submits a paper in one class and then submits it in another class it is plagiarism.

Respectfully yours,

Dr. McCreary
Liberty DLP Adjunct Professor

5:14 AM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

Dr. McCreary,

Thank you for your comment. First, following is Dr. Meyer's original comment (it was deleted from the blog as it was posted to the now deleted post).

Dr. Meyer has left a new comment on your post "Mid-Term":

Posting these comments is unethical at best and may lead to plagiarism on the part of the readers.

Posted by Dr. Meyer to Eowyn's Heart at 6:28 AM

I have never heard that the university has joint ownership over papers submitted by a student. As it is an original writing solely by the student, I'm not sure I see how it could become the property of the university. I've always considered my papers just that - "my" papers. I have, at times, used thoughts/phrases from previous papers though never, of course, simply re-sumbitting a same paper - that would be unethical. Nonetheless, if a comment or thought crosses over and fits well, I have no problem using it and not citing the reference. I have never seen that one is required to cite oneself - though if I had published something and then referenced it, I would probably cite that - but not college papers such as those posted to this site.

In regards to plagiarism, the dictionary definition clearly states that it is the quoting of someone elses work without citation - stealing another's creativity. I don't think it's really possible to plagiarize ones self. Dr. Meyers states that my posts "may lead to plagiarism on the part of the readers." I contend that the burden of integrity is on the readers. If they choose to quote my work and not cite it, that is their issue, not mine. My work is no different in that matter than any book, publication, or other research resource.

I welcome further discussion on this matter as it is a good learning experience :-)

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

If I may comment....I am also a current graduation student at Liberty. Even though I agree with you that if a reader were to choose to quote your work without citing it is their issue, not yours, I would like to point out how easy it would be for an unethical student (and they are out there) to copy and past your posts and turn in YOUR work as their own. There are many of us out here taking the same classes you have taken, and have the same requirements. And as much as I enjoyed reading your papers, and I understand you wanting to share this information, I do wonder if you realize how you are opening yourself up to be a victim of plagiarism. It is also possible to purchase similar papers online, but yet buying such papers and turning them in as your own work is also consider plagiarism and not acceptable at Liberty. Lastly, may I point out that from a Christian standpoint, the Bible instructs us not to do anything that would cause someone to "stumble." (1 Cor 8:13) May I suggest that posting your papers is in effect "posting" temptation for someone to sin (i.e. plagiarize your paper, either in part or in whole).

As much as I enjoyed reading your work, I might recommend not posting them on the internet, as I am willing to admit had I not had the standard of integrity and honesty that I do have, I would be very tempted to simply copy your paper and submit it as my own work. Yes, MY issue, but again I also feel the mere fact you have posted it on the internet has in some degree create a temptation, one that thankfully I am able to resist.

These are just my thoughts which hopefully you will gracefully consider.

Blessings,
Cheryl

5:49 AM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

Hi Cheryl,

Good to (virtually) meet you :-) and thanks so much for your kind comments about my work. This is an interesting discussion and I wonder if others are following it as well. This site is moderated and all voices that honor God in their content are welcome and will be posted.

You bring up an interesting point about not causing others to stumble - this affects so many areas of our lives. In regards to the topic at hand I would like to pose the following "food for thought."

First, if we were physically in class together, it would not be unusual or unethical for us to share completed, graded work for the purpose of constructive dialogue. As our classes are virtual and we live miles apart, the only way we can really share them is virtually so, in that regard, I have no concerns with posting my work. In fact, I have been in classes where we were required to make copies of our work to share with all students for just that purpose and it was extremely helpful. Seeing the topics at hand from different perspectives allows for a deeper and broader education - in my humble opinion.

Second, how is my posted work different from any source found on EBSCO Host or other approved online resources (online publications, online biblical reference resources, etc.)? Are those not just as susceptible to plagairism? On that note, it is nearly as easy to copy written material as it is to cut & paste from electronic sources.

If I published these works and they were available through approved online sources, am I then "causing someone to stumble"? Since my posts are dated and are original work, they are, in essence, copyrighted anyway:

"Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created
in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship
immediately becomes the property of the author who created
the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights
through the author can rightfully claim copyright." (retreived Nov. 30, 2009 from http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf)

While I wholeheartedly agree that we should endeavor not to cause others to stumble, I don't think that extends to taking responsibility for their integrity or lack thereof.

Again, thank you for your comments, I feel this dialogue is productive and educational.

Please note, if my teachers or someone in authority at the school were to instruct me to (1) cease posting my work to my blog and/or (2) delete the work I have currently posted to my blog, I would comply without hesitation.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Good to meet you too! I'd like to respond to your comments.

First, the difference between being physically in a class together and sharing work (graded or otherwise) and sharing your work online after grading is those classmates in the physical class have (presumably) already completed the assignment. In discussions prior to assignments, thoughts, ideas and concepts are bantered about, but those cannot necessarily be plagiarized. Posting your already completed and graded assignments online opens up temptation to those of us (like myself) who have not completed the assignment to then, as I said, literally copy your entire work and submit it as their own. There is no difference if I were to, say quote you and then give the appropriate reference to your work, as opposed to quoting or citing work found on EBSCO Host or other such data bases. It would be nearly impossible to copy a journal article, for example, and submit that as a completed assignment, as the format, required content, etc., would not meet the criteria for that particular assignment. On the other hand, it IS possible to completely copy your posts and submit them to fulfill the assignment criteria.

Second, what makes your posts different from a source found on EBSCO Host is the keyword "approved." Not only am I now getting my Master's degree through Liberty Online, I also got my undergrad degree from them (plus I have three kids and a daughter-in-law who have Liberty residential degrees), and I have yet to have a professor who will accept a blog as an "approved online resource." Therefore, if someone were to want to actually quote you and cite it, it would not be approved or accepted. So they would have three choices: Submit it as an unapproved source, submit it as their own work without citing a source (i.e. plagiarize), or not use it at all.

Third, I agree with you that we are not responsible for the integrity of others. But we are responsible for our own integrity, and I wonder how that plays into posting completed assignments online. Again, the temptation to just copy and paste your work as someone's own is great. You aren't responsible for their decision to do so, but you are responsible for putting the temptation out there to begin with.

This all may be nit-picky, but if a Liberty professor (two actually) found it necessary to comment on one of your posts, that may indicate a little more research may be in order to determine if you are free to post your papers on your blog. I have a son and a daughter who are both GAs (grad assistants) at Liberty and they also have friends in the Online department. If you would like, I could check with them to find out if Liberty has a policy concerning the posting of papers, etc.

I haven't read it in it's entirety, but I wonder if the Liberty Code of Honor might address this particular issue.

Another point to consider is posting completed graded papers may be similar to posting the answers to a graded test or quiz. Basically, you are giving the "answers" to the paper, and that would constitute cheating. My understanding is as far as Liberty is concerned at least, in cases of cheating, both the cheater and the person who was cheated off of are equally guilty. So that may be another point to research and determine if posting a paper may be considered cheating.

I'll check back for your response! This is a good discussion, and I think an important one, and I am sincerely simply voicing my concern and opinion.

Cheryl

7:14 AM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

To whomever is submitting comments in a foreign language. My apologies for not approving your posts, but I cannot approve something I cannot read. Please submit your comments in English if you would like them approved.

Cheryl,

You make an excellent argument and address issues I had not considered. For the purpose of maintaining strong integrity, I will delete all content of completed assignments except for my personal summaries (I think those can be legitimately shared).

May the Lord be glorified in all our discussions as I believe He has been in this one! :-)

7:42 AM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

RE: 4-MATs

When editing these, I felt that only the *abstract* sections posed potential problems and needed to be deleted. I left the rest because it is very personal as opposed to analytical like the other papers.

Would appreciate your review of one or two of these and your opinion on the matter.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came upon your blog due to a search on the same topics. I am also a Liberty student and am in similar courses. I had no intentions to, and did not use your work. My only reason for reading your posts was to get an idea of what the assignment was about, as it really wasn't clear (first class).

Some instructors give sample papers too. For me, it's just a guide so I'll know that I understand the assignment correctly. In my entire life of writing, I have never plagiarized or even come close to it. I'm way to opinionated for that. My thoughts and others thoughts on a topic are way too different for me to copy others work as my own.

Additionally, I don't understand the whole "plagiarizing yourself" idea either. True or not, this has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. Turning in a paper that I previously used in another class...ok, I get that this isn't ethical. But using my own ideas in another class that addresses the same topic in another, that makes absolutely no sense. If they're my ideas, of course it will sound the same as in previous work because they are what, MY IDEAS! And I totally do not get the suggestion that because I turn an assignment in for credit, the university is now part owner so now I can't use it. That's like saying a published author can't use his own work anymore because the publishing company paid him for it. Is it not still his ideas? How do you quote yourself? This logic is beyond me. I've heard it before, but I totally don't agree with it. I can understand universities not wanting students to turn in old work for new classes, but if it's the same topic, you have to know that I'll have some of the same ideas and wording. After all, it's not like I'm no longer ME after a class ends.

Nevertheless, thank you for posting your papers. Too bad you had to shorten them. It really put me on task as to what the assignment was calling for, and gave me something to bounce my ideas and arguments off of. Unlike being on campus, I don't have anyone to bounce ideas off of or talk to about the assignment. Ask a professor and they'll refer you to the syllabus or the assignment. Post a question on Blackboard and the assignment will be late by the time someone responds. Your posts were like having a conversation...you were your papers, and I responded in mine, so to speak.

God bless and best of luck with your educational endeavors.

P.S. Anyone who is, excuse my choice of words but, stupid enough to go online in the age of "Google" and copy someones work, be it papers or exams, deserves what they get in terms of punishment for plagiarism. Just like I (and others) were able to find papers online, so are the professors and other university staff. My undergrad school had a team that was dedicated to going online and finding posted assignments just to have something to check against for plagiarism. If a professor suspected plagiarism, they'd submit your work to the team and they'd Google it and so forth. The first thing professors tell you in undergrad courses is that they do this and they will catch you if you plagiarize. So if someone in a graduate course at a Christian university lacks integrity and decides to use your work, that's not your problem. And I don't agree that you are tempting anyone. What about those of us like myself who just needed the guidance of those that came before us and already experienced what we are going through, and just needed a little direction? That's like saying do away with ice cream at the grocery store because it's tempting people who shop there that are on diets!

Again, I did not use not one idea or sentence of your work. I used them the same way I use sample papers that the professors provide..just to make sure I understand the assignment correctly and figure out where I want to go with my own ideas. I don't know about anyone else, but I found it helpful and it relieve stress.

Thanks

10:59 AM  
Blogger Eowyn7 said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you so much for your comments. I am so grateful to know that my papers were helpful! I never thought of them being used to help people figure out "what the assignment was calling for." My primary purpose was to provide a forum for exchanging ideas. As you noted, "Unlike being on campus, I don't have anyone to bounce ideas off of or talk to about the assignment. Ask a professor and they'll refer you to the syllabus or the assignment. Post a question on Blackboard and the assignment will be late by the time someone responds." Though, I must note that my professors thus far (except one) have been far more responsive and helpful and have *not* simply referred me to the syllabus :-)

Nevertheless, your argument holds water - online is *far* more difficult than being in a classroom or on campus. While we have required posts to "discussion" boards, 98% of the time classmates post only the amount of information and response required. Genuine discussion is very hard to come by. In the 6 classes I have taken thus far, only one such discussion has occurred in that framework.

I just realized one point I have not yet made in this discussion. I did try to get classmates involved in sharing papers in one class via the discussion board or a private blog setting. In a previous class I had swapped (completed and submitted) papers with one another student - we both benefited greatly from the exchange of ideas. While several people responded favorably to the idea, no one ended up participating. On the other hand, this Blog has generated some really great comments and educational discussion. My point, however, is that the idea of sharing papers was OPENLY discussed on the class discussion board and the teacher never once voiced ANY concern whatsoever.

I agree whole-heartedly with the points you made about integrity and plagiarism as well as the availability of other papers on the web, sample papers provided by instructors and the plagiarism team concept - which would probably be the best way to handle this.

However, for the time being I will stick to my commitment of "summaries only" since the concerns voiced have primarily been voiced by Liberty professors and I feel I should respectfully defer to them for the time being.

It would be useful for this discussion to be brought up among the LU DLP staff with some clear guidelines being established and communicated.

I have double-checked both the Code of Honor and the Student Expectations provided to us and there are no guidelines that would prevent me from posting my papers in completed format.

Again, thank you for your comments. You said what I was thinking far better than I had been able to frame it :-)

This has been a GREAT discussion! :-)

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how Christians can become legalistic because of society issues. God gave us freedom to choose and how to choose. It is up to us in what we choose to do. If we know the right thing, and we don't know it then it becomes a sin, James 4:17. Students pay for their education. For the University to take a students writing and not pay for it would be considered theft. The student is complying with the requirements of the class in writing and submitting. There is no legal contract, which states a student can't publish their writing. Therefore, Liberyy University can be legally liable for taking a student paper and claiming it as their own. The University would have to pay for the students' ideas. Either way are we not to be sharing and giving to one another? Is this not grace and helping another student? It is up to the student, whether they feel compelled to plagiarism.

5:21 PM  
Blogger Jennifer K. Fuller Gerhart said...

I found this discussion very interesting. I myself am a Liberty counseling grad student, and I came upon your blog while researching topics for my paper. I found your posts to be interesting and gave me a new perspective to consider, as do the discussion posts that I am sure you are very familiar with. However, I would like to comment on one thing. I have read in the Liberty rules (forgive me for not remembering where, but I am sure you could find it easily)that it is in fact plagarism to use parts of papers that were previously turned in for credit. This is because you would be getting two grades for only doing the work once. I just wanted to let you know, in case you were to be confronted about such a problem. It is in fact easy for them to determine if this has been done, because they run our papers through a system that checks for similarities with all other papers that have been turned in to liberty (including your own) along with internet and journal sources. I was also unaware of this information until a professor made it known to me and posted these particular Liberty rules for us to read. Thanks.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a student at Liberty myself I have a question...Do you not all have to submit your work through SafeAssignment ? If so what is the problem. I say post your information as it is helpful...for those of you that copy the work be aware that when you Upload to SafeAssignment it will be matched to information that has been submitted by other students. Work hard and He will reward you. Lets get back to doing our papers and going to great websites like these for ideas, and examples not to copy or take advantage. Integrity is key.

8:37 PM  

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