Plagiarism: Take it seriously!

By | Copyright, General, Information Literacy, Research Skills | No Comments

Recently, a few poets accused Ailey O’Toole of selecting parts of their poetry and using it in her poetry to express herself. Incidentally, she was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize for her poem Gun Metal (which was plagiarized). The Guardian has all the details about the case. This incident made several publishers pull down O’Toole’s Works from their sites.  Although she has been very apologetic about the accidental plagiarism, I noticed that her credibility has been affected and her future works will be always be looked at with doubt and skepticism.

Reflecting on the past I have noticed, how quickly I have merely ‘copied and pasted’. I have rationalized saying, “this is exactly what I want to say” so why to reword it, simply ‘copy and paste’ and this will save my time and effort. Well, if that is the intent of saving time and effort, then what I have also learned is to take an extra minute or two to put it in “Quotes” and cite the author’s name. What about you? Are you guilty of plagiarizing too?

Examples of plagiarism are many, here are a few International examples, NDTV has compiled a few Indian cases and a story about 3 Academic Thefts by professors in Rajasthan.

iPleaders Blog Post on Plagiarism law gives us a glimpse of India’s views on plagiarism. This makes me wonder and reflect on our Indian Education System. In the local schools, I  have observed that students photocopy school notes and college notes, memorize them and then finally regurgitate the content in their exams, to get scores or marks that will make him/her eligible to one of the best colleges in India. Are we preparing our students for a ‘copy and paste’ world or do we want them to think, reflect and create?

I wonder how will this individual function in the real world? How will he/she respond ethically in the information world, where he/she has not learned to paraphrase and use his/her thinking faculties to express ideas or create something unique?

Here are simple six steps by Write Check to avoid plagiarism. BibMe recommends other ways. Some important ones I have learned are to:

  1. Use multiple sources of information to get a perspective and in-depth knowledge on the topic.
  2. Acknowledge one’s ideas, beliefs and thoughts that are gathered after much reading.
  3. Paraphrasing correctly and not merely replacing parts of a sentence with synonyms but also the syntax of the sentences.
  4. When quoting other peoples work, it’s important to give credit.
  5. Using a proper citing format according to the discipline.

Using a plagiarism checker can be very helpful when writing, it helps prevent accidental plagiarism.  Invest in one; it’s worth it!

Habit of Giving Credit – Citation

By | Fair Use, General, Information Literacy, Librarian's Role | No Comments

Giving credit to others contribution is important. And why is it important? Many businesses tycoons of successful projects know that success comes when it is built on other people’s ideas or ones own with others help. These leaders give credit to all those who have been a part of the endeavour.  Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit to form. Its rewards are inestimable –  Loretta Young, an American Actress.

Acknowledging and giving credit is one of the key aspects of any project or research. We all need to know, learn and practice giving credit when we create our presentations and work. As librarians, we are constantly reminding our students to cite their sources. When we give credit to the resources we use for teaching, we are not only modelling it for our students but also valuing other peoples work. This only establishes our credibility and reinforces what Google Scholar’s Mantra states: Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Learning and giving credit to all our images, using copyright free images or sharing ideas from others in our own creative way is a part of the Creative Commons and understanding the licenses are a part of being Information Coaches/Librarians. The IBO office recently released – An Ideal Libraries/Librarians putting a huge emphasis on the ethical use of information, protecting the environment and being respectful of all races, religions, and sects. Using any form of citation, be it MLA, Chicago or APA style, it is important to teach students to recognize others work. And, not copy and paste – which is outright plagiarism. Students need to paraphrase, add their own perspective and cite their sources of information. This practice will help all become critical thinkers and ethical users of information, and one must know that simply copying and pasting information out from the internet is not learning. Let’s model, practice and support the ethical use of information.

Evaluating Information – Caarp or Cars

By | General, Information Literacy, Librarian's Role, Research Skills | No Comments

There is a plethora of information online – so how do we navigate the flood of information and recognize information that is authentic, real and something we can trust. All IB librarians are pretty familiar with the acronym – CAARP or CRAAP.

To recognize information as worthwhile and with credibility – it is important to teach our students how to question their sources. My favorite criteria is the CAARP  from the California State University And, you can apply it to almost anything, a book, a website, a blog post or even a media product. To test the authenticity of the information you can also use the CARS checklist from McGraw Hill. As librarians, we must teach these to our students starting from Grade 4 all the way up to the high school students. No one is too young or too old to learn these acronyms to guide us when evaluating any source of information.

When you come across a video on Whatsapp or through social media channel, using any one of these acronyms of evaluating will help identify the authenticity and value of the information and will help you from getting carried away with fake news and other morphed videos and images. If you don’t see the creator of the video – IGNORE IT… It’s not worth passing it on.

I often tell my high school students, that if they come across some information on a website and it is only found on that particular website, and that particular information sounds unique, unbelievable or even rare, then, more often than not I would ignore it. To get an all-round perspective on a particular topic it is important that you find other credible sources that would compare, comment or even discuss it from different angles. Always when in doubt, look for other sources to compare, get perspective and viewpoints on the topic, never trust only one website, or one source for a particular topic.

Compare, contrast, think, analyze and use your own understanding to arrive at your opinion and views. This will help students and researchers to develop a grasp on a topic and get a 360 degree perspective on the topic.

Are Librarians Relevant in Today’s World?

By | General, Information Literacy, Librarian's Role, Media Literacy & Information Literacy, Professional Development | 3 Comments
Computer Communication

Literature, Information and Media Literacy – Computer Communication –  CC0 Public Domain

Are Librarian’s relevant in today’s world? What’s the role of librarians in schools? Do we really need librarians in schools and colleges? Or are they only keepers of books?

Libraries are the central hubs of learning. Libraries have been a storehouse of books and been synonymous with knowledge. And, therefore, to gain knowledge a student goes to an educational institution and visits the library to build on their learning experience. Now, things are different! Learning is happening everywhere.

With the advent of the Internet in 1986 in India and growing connection in every Indian state, we have come a long way with the acquisition of information. Information is now available at the fingertips of every individual who owns a smartphone. So, the question we need to ask all librarians is – Are Librarians obsolete in today’s world? Do we need a library or librarians to help us find information?

The answer to the questions is YES!  But, how can we as librarians, reinvent ourselves to stay relevant and feel accomplished in our job? The only answer is to LEARN. Find ways to stay relevant. Choose autonomy and courage to try new lessons with our students and equip ourselves. Today, as librarians we need to be Meta Literate. As librarians, we must have five primary objectives to guide our patrons, whoever they might be.  Tom Mackey & Trudi Jacobsen,  advocates Metaliteracy.

6 Primary Goals recommended are:

  1. To help individuals, evaluate all content critically and understand differences in articles, blogs, reprints, wikis, media products and websites
  2. We must learn and support personal digital privacy, encourage information ethics and protect intellectual proper in our technology environment
  3. Library Hubs or Learning Commons must provide a participatory environments for people with similar interests work collaboratively, and learn from each other through interest groups
  4. Another key role is to help learners with research strategies to help them in their personal, academic and/or professional inquiry.
  5. Support learners to become better communicators of information through reading, writing and/or creating media or infographics to convey meaning.
  6. Develop the art of reading and craft of writing for you and for other learners.

Dr. Albert Ryan an educator and a freelance writer, says, it is very important for students to learn about information and media literacy. Anubhati Yadav,  an advocate of media literacy claims that media literacy in schools is a must.

In my belief, since Librarians are the experts in curating, sharing and knowledge experts, it is therefore critical, for us to take this opportunity to update our skills in learning Literature and Writing workshops. And, learn about Information and Media Literacy in our new educational environment.

So, how we do that? There is no formal training in India for librarians or teachers to learn about Information and Media Literacy. It is urgent in our present scenario. There are many free courses of Information & Media Literacy available on Coursera,  UNESCO – Information and Media Literacy, AUB and other MOOCs Online There are several Massive Open Online Courses -free cost available.

All we need is to develop a mindset of growth.  We need courage and openness to learning. We want the consumers of information and media to make informed choices and not be carried away with propaganda and misinterpretation of media and news. All information gatherers learn not only from print but media, graphs, infographics, audio recordings, videos and a combination of all of the above, thus making them Metaliterate. This is one of the goals a librarian must keep in mind in supporting the learning community.

Whatsapp Messages: How True Are They?

By | Information Literacy, Media Literacy | No Comments

Watsapp Messages by Riomar Bruno, – CC0 Creative Commons

Whatsapp messages: How accurate are they? According to the International International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, there are 750 million Watsapp users in the world. And 20 million are added every month all over the world. That’s a lot!

20 Million Watsapp Users in India by Statistics Inc

In India alone, according to the Mashable Survey. There are 200 million WhatsApp users, and if we put these two statistics together, there is no doubt that the numbers of social media users in India are growing at a rapid rate.  This is fantastic news! Information and media are being used by every person to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and messages efficiently.  Advertisers, political, social, religious and other parties are promisingly using the social media to benefit them.

As consumers, of these messages, it is essential for all: children, the youth, and adults to be able to evaluate these messages.  Three Questions to ask when you view a message:

  1. Why was this message/media created? [ Was it to educate me, persuade me, or entertain me]
  2. Who created this message? [ Marketers, Educators, Political or Ideological Parties]
  3. What values and points of views are embedded in this message? [Have they covered both pros and cons of the message]

Most messages on Watsapp are created without the author’s name. It is, therefore, crucial to know who the creator is. Is he/she an expert in the field?  Is the information or media backed up by real evidence? Is he/ she trying to persuade you towards the object or idea?

What if your best friend sends you a message about a remedy that will help you lose weight quickly or some herbal concoction that will help improve our child’s memory? For an intelligent adult like you, it is imperative to make a rational decision and not jump on the bandwagon of believing everything you read to be true. The internet has all kinds of information, and it is up to you to make right decisions for you and your family.

Here is another example of the Plastic Rice video that went viral last year. There were questions all over India that plastic rice was being substituted for real rice. Nobody did a fact check, the blame game and fear of plastic rice spread virally, hurting the rice manufacturers, hoteliers, and others. What a shame! We thought wise to pass on the messages to help our friends and family – Did we stop to ask these three questions. Did we check the origin of this video? What we did was add fuel to the fire. Think, evaluate before you forward any message next time.

You will need to do a fact check and research on the information you have received before accepting it or forwarding it. Is there enough evidence to back the claim that is being made, if yes,  go ahead and share otherwise PAUSE?  Boomlive. In, Factchecker are some of the fact-checking websites, that can help you identify fake from real. Adding a Fact Checker Extn on your internet browser can help you check your facts.