Issue For July 25, 2007
The next issue of Purdue OWL News will be released on August 14th, 2007 as the two OWL coordinators will be taking their preliminary examinations in early August. Thank you!
Writing Question of the Week
This is usually a question submitted by an OWL user to the OWL Tutors. If you have a question you need answered quickly, ask one of our OWL Tutors or call the Writing Lab's Grammar Hotline at 765-494-3723. And remember, both services are free for everyone!
I have a journalist friend who keeps harping on how "days ago" is correct usage and "days back" is not. An example of this is:
"I met Sally several days ago" as opposed to "I met Sally several days back."
I find both usages to be quite common, and even experienced media persons use the latter. Can you please tell me which one is right?
Thanks for writing. Both phrases are correct, though both belong to different dialects of American English. Different regions in America often have particular expressions and phrasings that contribute to their dialects. Therefore, grammatically speaking, both are correct.
The OWL Help Nest
Each week we publish Purdue OWL News readers' requests for advice or information and the responses from other Purdue OWL News readers.
Hello, I am designing a unit on plagiarism for my high school English students. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for activities or materials that would be helpful for the class.
I am designing a unit on plagiarism for my high school English students. I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for activities or materials that would be helpful for the class.
I am teaching a freshman composition course this fall, and I designed a quick and easy way to inform students about plagiarism. I will first tell the students the difference between unintentional and intentional plagiarism (unintentional plagiarism is, I believe, the most common form), reassuring the students that I do not presume guilt when I suspect plagiarism. Most students are willing to work harder on composition and research when they know that they will not automatically be charged with plagiarism if they make an honest mistake while incorporating other ideas from sources. The second thing I will do is address intentional plagiarism head-on. I designed a handout called "How to Plagiarize an Essay" and, though not yet approved for classroom use by our composition committee, I would like to distribute it to my students. It is a step-by-step guide to plagiarizing a paper, and it basically lets students know that I am aware of online paper mills (web sites that sell pre-written or even custom-designed papers), and it tells them that my assignments are designed in such a way that the paper mills would either be ineffective or entirely too expensive for them to use.
The best advice I have heard when it comes to preventing plagiarism is to design your writing assignments effectively. Ask for a working thesis statement a day or two after assigning the paper, ask to see an outline or rough draft, and then ask the students to turn in all three components of the paper together so that you can examine progress. I'm sure you've heard this before, but don't pick predictable essay assignments, because those are the papers that are for sale (or free) on the Internet.
--Molly Wright, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
In addition, the OWL staff recommend looking at our handout on Avoiding Plagiarism here http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/01/
Next Week's Questions
What's Your Question?
If you have a question you'd like to ask our readers, please send it via our simple Web form.
What's Happening on the OWL at Purdue
- OWL Eye On...Expansions planned for the OWL. Within the month of August our readers can look forward to additional materials in ESL, creative writing, and information literacy. We are also hard at work on a new homepage for our family of sites.
What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye On...Summer Hours end on August 3rd. There is still time to visit the Writing Lab and schedule a consultation with our tutors. The Writing Lab is open Mon-Thurs 9-4 and Friday 9-1. Our last day of tutoring for the summer is August 3rd.
This week's OWL News was edited by Dana Lynn Driscoll, OWL Webmaster and H. Allen Brizee, OWL Coordinator.