Keeping online in line
Plagiarism, in the day and age of the Internet, is not as clearly defined as it once was. Everyone has heard the clichés about the ease with which research can now be done: information is available at the "push of a button" and "travels at the speed of thought." In an academic setting, this means that the dividing line between an original idea and a borrowed one is increasingly blurry. But that's just to say that it's harder to find, not that it no longer exists.
The University of Chicago should make a concerted effort to create an active dialogue with students about plagiarism. This particularly fits in with the curriculum of first-year Humanities classes. Only by taking measures of this sort will the University ensure that students have a firm sense of how to separate their own ideas from those of other's, and to cite sources especially online sources with integrity.
In this regard, faculty members at the U of C should follow the lead of a number of instructors in the Social Sciences Division, who teach the core sequence Self, Culture and Society. Having recognizing that plagiarism has become more of a problem in their classes, these professors, to their credit, discussed it in staff meetings and with their students.