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Filtering by Tag: Cheating

Cheating in academia, whether it’s in the classroom or in the field of research, is typically a matter handled internally. Academic institutions prefer, typically, to handle such matters through honor courts, editorial boards or internal investigations rather than turn to the legal system for help.

However, increasingly plagiarism and other ethical issues have started to spill out of the academic courts and into the court of law.

The trend has been especially common among students who feel that they have been wrongly punished for plagiarism. This has included students suing their former schools for false representation, breach of contract, emotional distress, negligence and violation of equal protection rights to name a few of the arguments.

Though students rarely win these cases in the U.S., in countries such as China, students are often successful in getting the courts to force the school to withdraw their decisions, often under the grounds of a mandated right to education.

But students aren’t the only ones turning to the courts for help. Professors fired over allegations of plagiarism or unethical behavior have also routinely filed lawsuits. This famously included the controversial professor Ward Churchill who won his lawsuit against his former employer, the University of Colorado, after being fired over allegations of plagiarism. However, Churchill was only awarded one dollar ($1.00) in damages and ended up not being reinstated.

But while these lawsuits have been filed with regularity for some time, more recently universities have started going on the offensive when dealing with cheating. Last week, the University of Phoenix filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Chegg Inc., the company that owns the site Student of Fortune. According to the University, Student of Fortune offers a large amount of the school’s material for sale even though the site bills itself as a “tutorial marketplace.”

According to the school, the lawsuit was part of its anti-cheating efforts.

But it isn’t just civil courts dealing with ethical violations. In 2010, criminal fraud charges were sought against a professor who accepted duplicative grants for the same proposal. Though the professor eventually escaped prosecution, he was still disbarred for two years from receiving funding.

The result of all of this is pretty clear, though it’s easy to think of academia as an island unto itself, it’s nothing of the sort. Academia may be a fairly enclosed community with its own rules and justice system, but disputes within academia  routinely spill outside of it.

This means that editors, deans and others in position of authority need to consider not just their internal processes for handling unethical behavior, but how those processes may align with the regular legal system.

This can be especially difficult when conducting investigations as evidence that may be acceptable in an academic setting might not be adequate in a court of law. Likewise, rules that students and researchers are expected to follow might not mesh with the rules that the courts expect of them.

In short, it’s not enough to simply write strong editorial policies and honor codes. It’s also crucial to perform investigations up to standards that can hold up in a court of law, using methods that can be understood by academics and jurors alike.

Given the likelihood that these disputes will spill over into the courts at some point, it’s important to treat them as potential legal cases from day one and not think of them as purely academic matters.


An Increase in Student Plagiarism

Plagiarism: From School to Politics


Current Events

Published on by jbailey.

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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.


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/

WriteCheck by Turnitin is a plagiarism checker service for students.


Current Events

Published on by davidr.

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The German Defense Minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has resigned from his office on Tuesday, March 2011 in face of the public backlash to the discovery of high levels of plagiarism in his graduate thesis that earned him a top grade and doctorate.  The consequences of one act of plagiarism lasts a lifetime and the effects of being caught are almost impossible to clear. So why do people plagiarize when it can impact future jobs and career paths?

The lack of awareness and understanding about plagiarism are likely causes. It would be understandable if a student in their first year at a university plagiarized unintentionally or without a clear idea about how to provide proper attribution. It is an entirely different story for a graduate student with many years of education under their belt to commit such a blatant crime.

Laziness or the unwillingness to set aside the time required to create great written work may make the temptation of plagiarism stronger. In many instances students may just lack the time to fully immerse themselves in the work necessary to earn a top grade as they work a full time job while attending school. Although there may be many temptations to plagiarism, the consequences should be enough to dissuade anyone from succumbing to the easy CTRL C and CTRL V of modern plagiarism.

Mr. Guttenberg should be an example to everyone about the consequences of plagiarism. Once the German Minister of Defense and to many considered the next in line for the chancellery, now without a job, stripped of his doctorate, and his career path ruined.

Looks like the old saying still applies, “Cheaters never prosper.”

Full story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12617144


Current Events

Published on by mark.

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