Monday, January 13, 2014

The State of Things

Well, I finished my research paper on Friday, despite being distracted by some family drama. I reviewed it for formatting and errors on Saturday, then sent it along to my prof. I had a brief bout of anxiety over possible plagiarism charges. When I find a source that describes what I need, I tend to copy the text, paste it into my word doc, then edit it for content (taking out what I don’t need, and adding in bits that I found elsewhere), and then re-wording it to fit my writing and make it say what I want it to say. Sometimes I worry that I don’t change enough.

But then it opens a whole can of “What’s the difference between plagiarism and citing other peoples’ research anyway?” It’s a complex issue, and one I hate even thinking about. In my opinion, plagiarism isn’t nearly the crime people make it out to be, as long as you are citing your sources. But, then again, I don’t work in academia, I just take classes. And I think this whole idea detracts from the main focus of taking classes. You know, to learn stuff.

Anyways, now that that’s done and over, I have to get caught up on my weekly posts. Then next week is my Final essay exam. And then it’s a week off from school! Which reminds me, I need to register for my next class soon.

Been doing some reading as I can lately. A few weeks ago, Charles Gramlich mentioned on his blog some books he likes, and one was a Louis L’Amour book. I decided I really needed to read more westerns, and since I respect Charles’ opinion on such things, I figured I would get that one. Well, I couldn’t find a copy at the book store. But, being the book-o-phile I am, I couldn’t walk out empty-handed. So, I bought a different L’Amour western, The Burning Hills (which was apparently made into a movie in 1956). It’s a slim 150 pages of a good, old-fashioned chase through the desert with interesting characters. I’m enjoying it a lot, though sometimes I get confused about who each character is. But, that’s probably more due to my reading habits than the book itself. Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to seeing how the whole drama plays out.

Also been reading some graphic novels. Lately I have been obsessed with the Marvel character known as U.S.Agent. So, this weekend I got a collection from the Siege storyline featuring the Mighty Avengers, who had U.S.Agent in their roster at the time. Well, he wasn’t that big a player, but the story was good. And now I want to get all of the other Siege collections, so I can get the full story. Fortunately my local library has an extensive Graphic Novel section.

Haven’t been doing any fiction writing lately, but I have plans to get going on that soon. Still going to focus on long-form for now. Starting with a science-fantasy book that should be fun. More on that later.


Charles Gramlich said...

Even word for word quoting is allowed in academia as long as the piece is appropriately indicated as being a quote, usually with quote marks, and a reference. I tell students not to cut and paste into their working file or there can be problems by accident. If I ever do that kind of thing I paste the piece and mark it in red ink instead of black so I know it's not mine. then I work to integrate into the material I am working on. I count it as plagiarism when it is word for word, or nearly so, without quote marks or a citation. Just a citation isn't enough for word for word material, though, because it doesn't differentiate between quotes and paraphrasing

Tom Doolan said...

Yeah, I know the rules. And for the most part I do what you mention with the red font, unless I'm doing the editing immediately. When I do direct quotes, I put it in quotations, or even a separate indented paragraph, if it's more than two sentences.

I just worry that my edits won't be enough and I'll get called out on something that wasn't my intention.