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An Increase in Student Plagiarism

According to an article published by the GW Hatchet, a student newspaper for George Washington University, the number of plagiarism cases had already hit 38 for the year in the month of February 2012, more than half of the total of sixty two reviewed during the previous year. Seemingly unable to stem the flow, the Office of Academic Integrity is exploring new ways to discipline students for the offense. Among the penalties being entertained is the placement of guilty students into the University Writing Center as aides, a sort of academic community service program.

Tim Terpstra, the Director of the Office of Academic Integrity at GWU, initiated discussion on the service program after noting that fifteen percent of the plagiarism cases were coming from first year students taking University Writing or Writing in the Discipline courses. He believes that pressure and a lack of preparation by students is causing the rise in the number of offenses. Sandra Friedman, deputy director for the First-Year Writing Program, believes the solution is to "require multiple drafts on papers and to encourage students to reach out to their professors more."

George Washington isn’t the only American university plagued by plagiarism woes. In July of 2011, Panagiotis Ipeirotis, a professor at NYU, claimed that he detected incidents of plagiarism in papers submitted by twenty-two of his 108 students that semester, an astounding 20 percent. Ipeirotis, after discovering the plagiarized work, reported his findings to NYU's Associate Dean. The response from the dean’s office was “less than enthusiastic” according to Ipeirotis, and has discouraged him from investigating new incidents in the future.

A Culture of Cheating in our Student Populations

George Washington University and NYU’s Stern School of Business are two of the finest educational institutions in the country, but even they are not immune to plagiarism by their students. Unfortunately, there seems to be a culture in place at the college and high school levels that not only condones cheating, but in many ways encourages it. In September of 2011, six high school students from Long Island were arrested for hiring a college student to take their SATs.

If these 'enterprising' young high school students had gotten away with their scheme, how would they have maintained any kind of decent grades in college? Plagiarism and other forms of cheating were likely to be on the agenda. One of the more popular ways to do this in today’s web based world is to simply buy papers from a professional essay writing firm. If caught doing that, the students would be guilty of plagiarism. The essay writers, unfortunately, face no legal repercussions at all.

An article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education back in November of 2010 offers perhaps the most comprehensive insight into paid student paper writing, a multi-million dollar industry. The article, titled “The Shadow Scholar,” was written by a writer who makes a living writing essays and theses for college students. Using the pseudonym Ed Dante, he provides some colorful and grammatically incorrect quotes from students ordering papers from him and he reports that he’ll make $66,000 this year writing what should be written by students.

Citations

Miller, Melissa. "Lessons sought for plagiarists as cases rise" The GW Hatchet.  February 23rd, 2012. http://www.gwhatchet.com/2012/02/23/lessons-sought-for-plagiarists-as-cases-rise/

Lavelle, Louis. "NYU Undergrads Accused of Plagiarism." Bloomberg Businessweek. July 18th, 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/blogs/mba_admissions/archives/2011/07/nyu_undergrads_accused_of_plagiarism.html

Associated Press. "7 Long Island Students Charged in SAT Scheme." The New York Times. September 27th, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/nyregion/7-long-island-students-charged-in-sat-fraud-scheme.html?_r=1

Dante, Ed. "The Shadow Scholar."  The Chronicle of Higher Education.  November 12th, 2010. http://chronicle.com/article/The-Shadow-Scholar/125329/

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