The Definition of Plagiarism, Paraphrasing, and Propriety:

De-Plagiarizing a Neil Armstrong Biography

Below is the Wikipedia entry on Plagiarism, its definition, history, and reputation. This lesson deals with adapting useful articles in a fashion that avoids plagiarism.  The advent of the Internet and ease of “cutting and pasting” text make plagiarism an altogether convenient time-saving temptation for both the student, author, and artist. This lesson takes an online article and rewrites its prose putting it an “in your own words” context to avoid plagiarism.  But first carefully study the following paragraph:

Plagiarism, as defined in the 1995 Random House Compact Unabridged Dictionary, is the "use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.."  The modern concept of plagiarism is as an immoral practice. Originality is now considered an ideal. This view emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, while in the previous centuries authors and artists were encouraged to "copy the masters as closely as possible" and avoid "unnecessary invention."  Now plagiarism is especially abhorred in academia and journalism.  It is considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics, often leading to expulsion and career damage. Plagiarism is not a crime but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral offence. It may be a case for civil law if it so substantial to constitute copyright infringement. (Definition is from the Wikipedia Website)

The Lesson in De-Plagiarism

The on-line article chosen for this lesson is featured below.   The copyright act of 1976 permits such use for educational purposes, i.e., the article is an “example” used to instruct or provide study.  The article was adapted to a previous STARSHIP lesson comparing Neil Armstrong to Christopher Columbus.  It served as the basis for the Neil Armstrong brief biography.  While the general topics treated by the paraphrase are preserved, the text is altogether rewritten. 

The purpose of the lesson is to go through the process, sentence by sentence, with the class, choosing synonyms, alternate sentence structure and phrasing to make the article “ones own words.”  Obviously, the exercise instructs the participants in all facets of reading and writing.  Though bordering on being “provocative”, the process is a valuable one for editing, rewriting,  reviewing sentence structure, as well as understanding the meaning and connotation of words. After an interactive live class interchange on the paraphrase, the final sentences are assigned to the class to rewrite “in their own words.” 

(Note: The original article posted below is copied and pasted from the Internet News Source AFP.)

Note: The original text below is not in italics while the paraphrased text immediately beneath the original words is in italics.

Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, turns 80

 

Tue Aug 3, 3:52 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Neil Armstrong who turns 80 on Thursday, became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, before the eyes of hundreds of millions of television viewers worldwide, who gazed in awe.

Neil Armstrong recently turned 80 years of age.  He is famous for being the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.  That day hundreds of millions of people watched worldwide on television Armstrong setting foot on the Moon.

With one small step off a ladder, Armstrong placed mankind's first footprint on an extraterrestrial world and gained instant hero status.

It was one small step off a ladder, that allowed Armstrong to place the  first human footprint on the extraterrestrial world of the Earth’s Moon.  Predictably, this gained Neil immediate hero status.

His first words upon stepping on the lunar surface have since been etched in history: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

His first words that day after stepping onto the lunar regolith have become historic, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

An estimated 500 million people watched the grainy black and white broadcast that showed Armstrong, clad in a white space suit, climb down the lunar lander's ladder onto the moon's desolate surface.

Though the television broadcast was fuzzy, appearing somewhat unfocused, the 500 million people who watched it saw the white-space-suited  Armstrong, scale down the  lander's ladder onto the moon's bleak surface.

 

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, it was also Armstrong who had notified mission control that the module had made a successful arrival. "Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed."

Neil was the commander of the Apollo 11 mission, and, as such, he broadcast to mission control that his “Eagle” spacecraft had made a successful touchdown. His  eight words were, "Houston, Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed."

Joined by fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Armstrong spent about two and a half hours exploring the landscape around the landing site.

Accompanied by astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Neil walked about the Moon for about two and a half hours exploring the Moon landing site.

He described the surface as being like powdered charcoal. "I can pick it up loosely with my toe," he said.

Neil described what he saw on the surface as being like powdered charcoal, adding, "I can pick it up loosely with my toe.”.

Armstrong and Aldrin gracefully bounced in slow-motion despite their clumsy space suits, getting a first feel for the moon's gravity, which is one sixth that of Earth.

Like slow motion dancers, Armstrong and Aldrin cavorted  about in spite of wearing bulky space suits.  This was their first experience with the moon's one-sixth of Earth’s gravity. 

The two moonwalkers took photographs, collected rock and soil samples and deployed scientific instruments.

The pair of “moon-men” took photographs, retrieved both Moon rock and soil samples and erected scientific instruments.

They also planted a US flag and placed a plaque stating: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. We came in peace for all mankind."

Not only did they plant  an American flag but they also placed a plaque saying: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. We came in peace for all mankind."

The astronauts returned to Earth on July 24, ending the celebrated Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong's second and last venture into space.

Returning to Earth on July 24 ended the memorable Apollo 11 mission. This was both Neil Armstrong's second and final trip into space.

 

In September 1966, Armstrong had flown with David Scott on the Gemini 8 mission that linked up with the unmanned Agena Target Vehicle in the first ever docking of two spacecraft.

His first space mission had been in September 1966.  Then,  Armstrong had accompanied Astronaut David Scott on the Gemini 8 mission.   Their spacecraft had rendezvoused and docked with an unmanned target craft called the Agena.   It was the first time that two vehicles had docked in space.

Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio on August 5, 1930, Armstrong had an early fascination with aircraft and worked at a nearby airport as a teenager.

As for Neil Armstrong’s earlier life, he was  born in Wapakoneta, Ohio on August 5, 1930.  As a teenager,  he  was enthralled by airplanes while working at an airfield  near his home.   

He took flying lessons at the age of 15 and received his pilot's license on his 16th birthday.

There, as a 15 year old youth, he took flying lessons, receiving his pilot's license on the day he became 16.

A US Navy aviator, he flew 78 missions in the Korean War.

Flying served him well leading to a career as a United States Navy aviator.  This led to flying 78 combat missions in the Korean War.

He studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana, and later earned a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California.

His education included aeronautical engineering at Indiana’s Purdue University.  Later Neil, at the University of Southern California, earned a Master of Science degree.   It, too, was in aerospace engineering.

In 1955, he became a test pilot at the High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where he flew about 50 different types of aircraft.

In 1955, he became a test pilot at the Edwards Air Force Base in California.  The base tested high-speed aircraft.  Neil was privileged to have flown approximately 50 different types of aircraft. 

Seven years later, Armstrong was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to train as an astronaut in Houston, Texas.

It was seven years later when Neil Armstrong was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as an astronaut.  He would be trained in Houston, Texas.  

He has lived more than half his life in the aftermath of those golden moments walking on the moon.

 

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After retiring from NASA in 1971, Armstrong taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade and served on the boards of several companies, including Lear Jet, United Airlines and Marathon Oil.

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Despite his worldwide fame, the lunar pioneer shunned the limelight.

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In a rare interview in 2005, Armstrong told the CBS network that he didn't deserve the attention he received for being the first man on the moon. "I wasn't chosen to be first. I was just chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role."

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IS THIS SPACE PLAGIARISM?

In light of the Wikipedia definition of plagiarism, consider the above picture. Discuss your view of how to categorize the likeness of the Soviet Buran Space Shuttle (on the right) to the American Space Shuttle (on the left). Compared to the adaptation of the above Neil Armstrong biography, does the Russian spacecraft meet the criteria of "de-plagiarized" design? Why or why not?

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