This post describes a particular rhetorical technique that students often use in their essays that professional scholars never do: something I call the “straw bibliography.” If you learn to recognise these in your writing (and more importantly, learn how to handle them more professionally), the quality of your research will improve immensely.
What is a “straw bibliography”
“Straw bibliography” is the term I give to statements like the following, when they are unsupported by citations:
The question of the definition of medieval literature has long been a source of debate
Critics argue constantly about the role of women in literatureRead the rest of this entry »
Students seem always to get very nervous about citation… and, interestingly, perhaps through that nervousness, end up doing it in ways that professional scholars don’t.
Here are some tips that pros use for citation that undergraduates tend not to know:
Plagiarism is not a property crime.
Many students treat citations as, in essence, payment for ideas. Read the rest of this entry »
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece for the National Post on how technology was changing the way students worked–and how the generational gap between faculty and students might prevent faculty from recognising some types of plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty.
One type of academic dishonesty that I certainly had never heard of until quite recently involves how students acquire the quotations they use in their essay. In past years, I always assumed that students were acquiring their quotations semi-honestly–by reading the book or, at worst, reading something about the book from which they could crib passages to cite.
Recently, however, I’ve discovered students acquiring quotations from sites that only provide quotations from books. In my last batch of essays on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, for example, I had an essay from a student that purported to discuss seven life lessons that had been learned from a reading of the book. It looked like quite a witty piece, though strangely unconnected to the actual events of the book, until I discovered that all seven quotations had been copied straight from this post at Goodreads.com. In previous years, I have seen quotation lists derived from chatroom requests for “Quotes I can use from ‘We are seven’.”