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Warning: Distribution of Materials to your Classes. Much of what you will find here is intended to suggest approaches and methods for teaching philosophy. However, you may also find language here that you wish to adapt verbatim for your own course materials. For your own protection you should give attribution for any material that you adapt or closely paraphrase. While it may seem unusual to indicate sources in materials such as a syllabus or a paper assignment, please contemplate the following scenario:
- Imagine that you find something on this website, or somewhere else on the web, that seems really useful, and you adopt it without attribution in your own course materials.
- Now imagine that a student in your class pulls paragraphs from SparkNotes into an assigned philosophy paper. You immediately detect the source, accuse the student of plagiarism and fail the student on the paper.
- Now imagine that the student (or the student’s “helicopter” dad) goes on a personal vendetta against you, and discovers that some of your material is “plagiarized” from the web. This could create a highly embarrassing situation for you. As the students say, "You don't want to go there."
What is the harm in providing some documentation, even in a syllabus or class exercise? We should model for our students that we are scrupulous about academic integrity and we expect the same from them.
For materials that are used only within your own classes, you may use a less formal documentation system than would be appropriate for a scholarly article. Rather than acknowledging the individual author and the specific material that you have drawn upon, you may – if you wish – source the material as follows: “Some material has been adapted, with permission, from TeachPhilosophy101, [list the URL of the specific page from which you drew the material].
Author: John Immerwahr
Update: May 4, 2011