Thursday, August 16, 2007

JSU professors address Integrity committee


JACKSONVILLE — The members of Jacksonville State University’s new Integrity in Communications Committee heard presentations on plagiarism Wednesday from professors in JSU’s English and communications programs.

Jerry Chandler, who teaches a media ethics class in JSU’s Department of Communication, and Robert Felgar, chair of the English department, addressed the committee about what their departments teach students regarding plagiarism.

“From the get-go we emphasize the importance of attribution,” Chandler said. Students are told about well-known incidents of plagiarism in journalism so they are aware of the consequences, he said.

A person’s intent to plagiarize is “critical” in determining whether an incident constitutes plagiarism, Chandler added.

English Department Chair Robert Felgar told the committee his department defines plagiarism as “the unacknowledged use of someone’s writing,” regardless of the user’s intent. The department uses a computer program called MyDropBox to catch student plagiarism. But a professor won’t confront a student he suspects of plagiarism unless he has “incontrovertible” proof, meaning the professor can produce the original text the student has copied, Chandler said.

JSU President William Meehan formed the Integrity in Communications Committee last week to scrutinize the news bureau following reports of suspected plagiarism in columns produced by former bureau employee Al Harris.

Three “Town and Gown” columns were credited to Meehan and appeared in The Jacksonville News, which is owned by Consolidated Publishing Co., the parent company of The Anniston Star.

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