Library Services Outage

Most library web services (including this site)  will be unavailable Wednesday, June 1st, between 5:45 am and 7:15 am due to planned maintenance on electrical feeders on the WSU Pullman Campus. We anticipate services will return on schedule.

Until services return, you may find materials at WorldCat Discovery.


The question as to whether technology is contributing to plagiarism in college classes seems simple. From a purely technical standpoint, sure, it's easier to copy-and-paste chunks of text from one window on a computer to another than it is to re-type entire passages, or even papers. There are even web companies willing to supply would-be plagiarists with canned or customized papers for a fee.

It's also easier to track these practices. Researching a possible plagiarism case used to (and still can, of course) involve closely analyzing a paper for consistency with past patterns, and trying to piece together a reasoned conclusion as to whether it might have originated with someone else -- whether a published source that's perhaps trackable through available library resources, or a file paper that would be virtually untrackable. More often than not these days, it's possible to keypunch a short phrase into a web search engine (or a web database specifically for this purpose) and chances of discovering a match are really pretty good.

None of this information is new to someone who works or studies at a university. As Rebecca Moore Howard (a compositionist and leading researcher in the area of plagiarism in college classes) puts it, "If you are a professor in the United States and you have a pulse, you have heard about the problems of Internet plagiarism" (Howard, "Forget").

But debates about whether technology makes plagiarism -- or policing plagiarism -- easier seem to miss the heart of the academic community's real concern: what can we as a community of teachers and learners do for each other in an age that demands that we think differently about how information is shared, borrowed, and used?