When a Textbook Plagiarizes Your Student’s Work

In a few days I’ll be gearing up to teach my freshman writing students about plagiarism. Not the “terrify them and make them fear punishment from the authorities” speech, but the “why people who work in a community of minds take plagiarism so seriousy” speech.

How interesting, then, that I found a textbook published in 2009 that includes whole passages from a handout that a student originally submitted as a technical writing project almost 15 years ago, which I have maintained and expanded, and from which I continue to teach, and which turns up as the very first hit in a Google search for the topic.

The textbook did some editing, but reused many exampes and even re-wrote an anecdote from first person to third person. Yet I find no credit in the book (or at least, none in the portions of that textbook I was able to find online).

Of course, what galls me most of all is that words from my instructional website are appearing, without permission, attribution, or compensation, in a communications textbook.

On my to-do list is writing to the publisher and to the authors. I’ll keep the details quiet for now, to give the other parties a chance to respond with an appropriate level of professioalism.