As far as my formative years are concerned, I do not remember many academic discussions about plagiarism. I remember teachers essentially saying, “don’t do it and if you do it it, then you are in big trouble.” Young me only knew plagiarism as “stealing.” The fact that one could steal without realizing it simply by omitting a page number or that one could even steal from one’s self wasn’t something I really learned until I took College Composition.
Gilmore’s chapter, then, was yet another artefact that opened my eyes to the complexity of citation even after I, as an English major, have completed just about all of my coursework.
One such complexity was note-taking. Being a bit of a road scholar even before I entered university, I was no stranger to note-taking. But, with Gilmore’s assertion that obsolete note-taking could actually increase the chances of plagiarizing, it really hit home.
Last Spring, for example, I took ENG491, a class centered on research methodology. One of the tips my professor gave the class was to use index cards, the very same that Gilmore’s argued against. I, obviously, never tried the index cards because they were as the student from the chapter put it— a “dino-source.” Or, in this case, a “Dino-cite.” I had my notebook and my bookmarks. Why I would possibly have need for index cards is beyond me.
I never had any temptation to plagiarize in that course (or any course during any time). Obviously. Even so, though, I found that the professor’s reliance on such index cards was a perfect illustration of how some less-than-helpful habits die hard. More than that, however, it makes me think that educators do need to keep up with changing technologies if for no other reason than their young students aren’t going to have any clue how to use a form of citation which was dated even before they were born.