25 October 2010

From University of the Philippines Professor Teresita Gimenez-Maceda: "What is Plagiarism?"


Dr. Teresita Gimenez-Maceda

Professor of Philippine Studies and Philippine Literature

College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines

Diliman, Quezon City

Every semester at the start of every class, whether undergraduate or graduate, I emphasize one rule: DO NOT PLAGIARISE. Then I go on to give a lecture on the “crime” of plagiarism.

Simply explained, plagiarism is when you borrow someone else’s words and make these appear as your own. But there are several ways of plagiarising as there are several ways of detecting the deed.

The first and most obvious kind of plagiarism is when a person copies word-for-word a sentence, a paragraph, a whole article, a section of a book, or different sections of a long article or book written by another author and does not enclose the copied words in quotation marks. Even if the copier acknowledges in her/his bibliography the source for the copied words, the lack of quotation marks within her/his own writing constitutes plagiarism. “I forgot to put the quotation marks” is no excuse.

The second kind of plagiarism is when a person borrows someone else’s ideas, rewords them to make the ideas seem like her/his own. This becomes apparent when there is no attribution to the original author. This means the person borrowing did not mark the reworded ideas of another writer with a footnote or an endnote to acknowledge from whom s/he borrowed the idea/s. “I was in such a hurry that I forgot to put the footnote or endnote,” is not an acceptable reason. We live in an era of information technology. Putting in a footnote or an endnote has been made easier through word processing software like Microsoft Word, Mac Pages, or Ubuntu and Linux Open Office. It should be automatic for anyone to immediately insert the footnote or endnote.

The third kind of plagiarism is when a person translates to Filipino or other Philippine languages someone else’s ideas that were expressed in English or other foreign languages and fails to enclose the translated material in quotation marks. “But the Filipino words are mine,” the translator might claim. But the question still is, whose idea/s did the person translate?

Even when a person frames the ideas of a writer in another way or in a different language, and conveniently forgets to acknowledge the source of the idea/s, that still constitutes plagiarism.

There is nothing wrong with borrowing an author’s ideas. We encourage students to research the wealth of materials available in books or the internet to expand their knowledge and help bolster their own critical positions. We are often inspired by a writing style, a conceptual framework, a powerful idea. We may even imitate the style or use the conceptual framework, or build on the powerful idea of other writers and theorists. But we never should forget or fail to give recognition to who inspired us, whose conceptual framework we found applicable to our own research, or whose powerful idea stirred us to develop our own. That is how knowledge grows. We may start to borrow (with proper acknowledgement), but eventually, because we are creative individuals, we develop our own style, our own expressions, and way of thinking.

I summarize my lecture on plagiarism with one Filipino word: KATAPATAN. It means honesty, truthfulness, and integrity.

I liken plagiarism to a mother who borrows a ganta of rice from a neighbor and forgets that what saved her family for the day was the kindness of the neighbor. I think of plagiarism as lacking the Filipino value of “utang na loob”. Who helped you gain the knowledge you have today? Who aided you in becoming a better person by offering a different way of viewing things?

Telltale signs of plagiarism

A plagiarist always leaves behind a trail of telltale signs. And the teacher then becomes a detective following the clues and gathering the evidence.

Sometimes, the trail begins with just a turn of phrase without the quotation marks. The teacher then becomes suspicious, especially if the student has never exhibited a clever use of words during the semester. That turn of phrase may remind the teacher of a particular author’s writing style. Then the plagiarism is sure to be discovered, for an author’s writing style is like a fingerprint. So, too, is the way an author develops her/his ideas. As human beings, we may think alike, but we develop and express our ideas in our own individual styles.

At other times, the student may have become desperate (especially toward the end of the semester) and so surfs for an article in the internet in a website s/he thinks is obscure enough. The student then translates the whole article to Filipino without the creativity of using his or her own examples. I encountered such a case in my Philippine Literary Criticism class that I teach in Filipino. Would a sophomore in majoring in Filipino be familiar with John Milton’s Paradise Lost? Or Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup? Using these as clues, I, too, surfed the internet and discovered an article entitled, “Seven Easy Steps to Deconstruct”. The title itself should already have warned the student that this was meant to be a parody of deconstruction. I called the student, made a colleague witness my conversation with her, and asked her why she copied another author’s work. She cried, admitted her guilt, and asked for forgiveness. She had no malicious intent, she said. She did not know that what she did constituted plagiarism. I gave her a failing mark and told her never ever to commit the same crime. She has never done it again.

In the internet age, it is easy for students to copy and paste. A political science professor, for instance, had half of her class submitting an assignment with exactly the same wordings. And so I stress to my students not to consider their teachers ignorant of the use of the internet. I may be a senior citizen, but I am as much of a techie as my young students. The internet is a resource, but one has to learn to sift through the deluge of information it offers. And even if the source is from the internet, a student still has to acknowledge the website as her/his source of research material.

Some students are not that clever in plagiarising. I remember the case of a graduating student in Ateneo de Manila who submitted to me my own essay! I summoned him and he admitted he had his girlfriend write his term paper. But he did not tell his girlfriend who his teacher was! I gave him another chance. Desperate, he plagiarised an article of Bienvenido Lumbera published in the Fookien Times Yearbook. This was too much. I gave him an “F” and reported the matter to the Dean.

We would like to think that graduate students would already have attained sufficient maturity and independence of thinking and would likely not commit plagiarism. That is not so. Three years ago, I caused two Ph.D. students of mine in Philippine Studies to be removed from the program because of plagiarism. One of them copied a paragraph from my own book but did not enclose it in quotation marks or attribute to me the paragraph. I found myself staring at words that seemed so familiar, they could only have been written by me. As if that were not enough, he submitted another paper that extracted excerpts from just one work, pages from the beginning, the middle and toward the end and wove them together, submitting this as his paper. The telltale sign was again the writing style. The other Ph.D. student did exactly the same thing, passing off as his own, extracts from different sections of a book. How could graduate students think their teacher would not be able to discern their plagiarism?

In UP, we have been known to remove from our faculty roll a teacher who copied an American textbook and simply changed the American names to Filipino names. Our University Council has also withdrawn a Ph.D. degree from a graduate when overwhelming evidence showed that the dissertation was 97% plagiarised. The Supreme Court upheld our autonomy in that case.

Ill effects of plagiarism

Borrowing is not a crime. This is a statement I repeat over and over before giving my students their assignment. But I always warn them to never ever fail to use the quotation marks and the footnote or endnote when they borrow an author’s findings to support their own position, a writer’s wonderful turn of phrase to enhance their own, or when they translate to Filipino a passage in English.

Why do students copy? It begins with the way students in elementary and high schools are trained. For lack of textbooks, teachers find themselves having to require students to copy from the only textbook available in their school. But what is often neglected is that in copying, students should always write down the source of their notes.

For undergraduate students, I believe that their plagiarism is borne more out of desperation than malicious intent. But even without malicious intent, I consider plagiarism a bane and so for those cases of which I have discovered evidence of plagiarism, I give a failing mark and tell the student never to plagiarise again. I cannot emphasize it enough. Like liars, plagiarists are always found out because they leave a trail of clues.

Why do I rail against plagiarism? It is because claiming another one’s words is dishonest. The original author must have spent much time developing her/his thoughts and expressing these in a style uniquely her/his own. If the author discovers that someone else has copied her/his ideas, s/he can sue the plagiarist under the intellectual property rights. If a plagiarist is not found out, it will become a habit and it will be easy for her/him to lie, cheat and be corrupt. When a plagiarist is finally found out in her/his professional life, s/he can lose a job. But worse, a plagiarist who eventually becomes corrupt will have lost her/his soul.

KATAPATAN is all that is required of us to keep our integrity and dignity intact.

Professor Teresita Gimenez Maceda (Photography by Amaya Lara G. Maceda, UP College of Fine Arts)

Maceda, Teresita Gimenez. Mga Tinig Mula sa Ibaba. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1996.

14 October 2010

“CHILE: ODES FROM THE PHILIPPINES” A Poetry Contest for Filipino Students

A Poetry Contest for Filipino Students

A Project of The Embassy of Chile and The University of the Philippines System in commemoration of the Bicentenary of Independence of the Republic of Chile, and in celebration of the rescue of 33 Chilean miners in San Jose.


1. The contest is open from 19 September 2010 until 30 November 2010 to all Filipino students from any tertiary education (college) course except current family members of officers and employees of the Embassy of Chile and the University of the Philippines.

2. The contest has the following division and category: English Division – Poetry.

3. An entry must consist of one (1) poem of any form or length on or about the Republic of Chile—its bicentenary, people, scenery, culture and/or society and/or the emotions of the poet regarding the successful rescue operations involving 33 Chilean miners in San Jose.

4. Authors may submit only one (1) entry.

5. A work which has been awarded a prize in another contest before 30 November 2010 is not qualified for the awards.

6. All entries should be submitted through this email address:poetrychile2010@gmail.com

7. All entries should be in Rich Text Format (RTF) or in a Word Document File and should be sent as an attachment together with scanned copies of the author’s full résumé. The time of transmission should be NOT LATER THAN 12:00 m.n. of 30 November 2010. An entry will only be considered submitted if official confirmation is received through poetrychile2010@gmail.com

8. In submitting an entry, a contestant represents and warrants that the work is his own and that he has absolute ownership of all intellectual property rights thereto. If the entry is an adaptation of another author’s existing work, the contestant shall submit to the Embassy of Chile and The University of the Philippines the written consent of the author of the existing work, allowing the contestant to adapt the work, and to enter the adaptation in the contest (the Consent). The Consent shall include a clear and categorical statement that the Embassy of Chile and The University of the Philippines shall be exempt from any and all liability in the event that the adaptation is said to infringe the intellectual property rights of the author of the existing work. The Consent must be notarized and, if executed outside the Philippines, should be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or consulate.

9. All copies should be legible and neat. Entries must be addressed by email to the Board of Judges, “CHILE: ODES FROM THE PHILIPPINES”A Poetry Contest for Filipino Students c/o The University of the Philippines System Information Office, Mezzanine, Quezon Hall, University of the Philippines, DIliman, Quezon City 1101

10. Entries submitted must comply with government policies on printed matters. Submitted copies of winning entries shall remain with, and become the property of the Embassy of Chile.

11. In order to give public access to all of the competing works presented, the author hereby grants, assigns, and transfers unto the Sponsors, the right without necessity of any payment other than the prize which may have been awarded: to publish from time to time any winning entry or selection or portion thereof as it may at its discretion determine; to designate or appoint editors to edit the work or any portion thereof to suit the demands of publication; to furnish a reasonable number of copies of all winning works to libraries; to make the works available for downloading on the Internet or other electronic media; and/or to allow students to make copies for research or in connection with their school requirements. The Sponsor shall also have the right to appoint or designate editors or directors who may edit the work or any portion thereof to suit the demands of production or exhibition.

11. The prizes, in United States Dollars, are the following:

1st Prize – United States Dollars US$ 1000

2nd Prize – United States Dollars US$ 500

3rd Prize – United States Dollars US$ 500

Honorable Mention Winners (2) – United States Dollars US$ 100

All five (5) winners will also receive two (2) round trip tickets to Cebu or Boracay, courtesy of Air Philippines and La Isla Magazine.

The winning poems will be published in three languages: English, Spanish and Filipino. The anthology of poems will be launched in Chile and in the Philippines.

13. The Embassy of Chile and The University of the Philippines have the sole right to designate the persons who shall constitute the Board of Judges in each of the contest categories. The decision of the majority of the Board of Judges in all categories shall be final.

14. The Board of Judges shall declare only one winner for each prize listed in Rule 12. There shall be no co-winners and/or splitting of the prize money. The Board of Judges shall have the discretion not to award any prize if, in its judgment, no meritorious entry has been submitted.

15. The names of the winners and the members of the Board of Judges shall be announced on or before 18 December 2010. Prizes will be awarded to the winners during a reception at the University of the Philippines Executive House.

16. All parties submitting entries are deemed to have accepted the rules of the contest, and agree to abide thereby.





Chile Information Project http://www.chipsites.com/public/

Santiago Times http://www.santiagotimes.cl/

BBC News – Chilehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1222764.stm

Turismo Cile http://www.visit-chile.org/index.php?lang=eng


A Poetry Contest for Filipino Students

His Excellency Professor Dr. Roberto Mayorga, Ambassador of the Republic of Chile
Professor Emerlinda R. Roman, President of the University of the Philippines System

Honorary Chairpersons

Consul Luis Alberto Palma, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Chile
Professor Jose Wendell Capili, Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs, UP System

Project Coordinators

Associate Professor Mercedes Planta, Deputy Director, UP System Information Office
Associate Professor Wystan de la Pena, Chairperson, UP Department of European Languages

Committee Members

H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of Chile Professor Dr. Roberto Mayorga (Chair)
Consul Luis Alberto Palma, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Republic of Chile
Philippine National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, Winner, Pablo Neruda Literary Prize from the Republic of Chile
University Professor Emeritus Gemino Henson Abad, former Vice President for Academic Affairs, UP System
Professor Emeritus Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, former Vice President for Public Affairs, UP System
Professor Isabelita Orlina Reyes, Vice President for Public Affairs, UP System

Board of Judges