ミャオ サニー （経済学部 1年）
「Third Culture Kids' Sense of Belonging」
One of the most pleasant surprises for the judges of this year's Academic Writing Contest was the variety of topics that were addressed.
Although our job was not to 'learn' but to 'judge', we all ended up learning quite a lot on a wide range of topics, some of which were truly fascinating.
Another positive thing I can say about the papers in general is that with few exceptions the papers we received were very well researched, and the list of references was in many cases quite impressive.
However, as usual, quite a few of the papers contained problematic elements of one type of another.
These problems ranged from format issues with documentation to what I would describe as 'quasi plagiarism' or 'borderline plagiarism'. While I don't want to be unnecessarily 'negative', I think it might be useful for those who might be interested in participating in the contest in the future to go over some of the issues that were in evidence in some of the papers.
Most of the contestants did a pretty good in utilizing a proper documentation style, but there were a number of papers which exhibited very fundamental errors such as failing to indent paragraphs, or failing to list the sources in the list of references in alphabetical order. Another problem that quite a few students had difficulty with was how to deal with Japanese-language sources.
In terms of content, as I stated earlier, many papers were written on very interesting topics and contained a good deal of information on those topics, but often those papers lacked a clear thesis statement and/or a clearly formulated argument.
However, the most disturbing thing we noticed in several of the the papers this year was that they came dangerously close to being examples of plagiarism. There are different types of plagiarism. The most common form of plagiarism is 'verbatim plagiarism' in which the student or author uses specific phrases or sentences taken word-for-word from another source without using quotation marks and/or without acknowledging the original source. One paper in particular came exceedingly close to this type of plagiarism in several places. We would like to caution all contestants -- indeed all students at Keio -- to be very careful to thoroughly paraphrase and reference the sources they are using, and when they do use phrases taken straight from a source, to always use quotation marks.
A less common -- but equally problematic -- form of plagiarism is when not the words but the ideas of another source have been used without proper acknowledgement. For example, if the main idea of your paper and even the main points of your main argument have all been expressed in another paper, and you have included that paper in your list of references, then is that sufficient in terms of your duty to acknowledge that source? No it isn't, but unfortunately it seems that several contestants felt that that was sufficient. If any of the ideas in your paper have been taken from another source, you must make that very clear in your paper through proper referencing, and especially if the main idea of your paper has been taken from another source, then you must address that directly in the introduction section of your paper. Will acknowledging your sources make your paper look unoriginal? Well, in some cases it might, but if you fail to properly acknowledge your sources in order to make your paper look more original that it really is, then that is a serious problem; that is plagiarism. The judges felt that some of the papers came dangerously close to exhibiting this form of plagiarism, and so we would like to caution all future contestants -- and again, all students at Keio--to be exceedingly conscientious when it comes to acknowledging where you found the ideas that you are expressing and the arguments that you are making in your academic paper.