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Two stories around plagiarism caught our attention recently---one on an ex-Kent State student who was accused of plagiarism for not citing sources in a "draft", and the other on the principal at Chapel Hill High School being accused of plagiarizing in multiple documents.

More details on both stories as follows:

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Published on by jbailey.

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Harvard University

Written by Jonathan Bailey, Plagiarism Today

As school starts back up for the fall, Harvard University is preparing to deal with what could be one of the largest plagiarism scandals in academic history.

According to the school, approximately 125 students are expected to have hearings before the school’s Administrative Board on allegations that they colluded improperly on a take home exam.

The 125 students represent nearly half of Government 1310: Introduction to Congress class where the test was assigned. The school became aware of the alleged collusion after a teaching fellow noticed similarities between the turned in assignments. This prompted Harvard to investigate the matter and determine that 125 of the tests were suspicious.

The test was given out with strict rules about how the test might be taken, reading in part:

"The exam is completely open book, open note, open internet, etc.... However, in all other regards, this should fall under similar guidelines that apply to in-class exams. More specifically, students may not discuss the exam with others.”

Though the university declined to say how the collusion was done, officials indicated that the believed electronic communication was involved.

The university’s dean of undergraduate education, Jay Harris, said that the level of cheating is “unprecedented in anyone’s living memory” and that the school would attempt to turn the incident into a “teaching opportunity.”

Punishments for those being brought before the board range from a simple warning to being forced to withdraw from Harvard for a year. However, the results of Administrative Board hearings are confidential.

Students returning to class after their summer break have expressed shock at the scandal. With one freshman saying that “You think of Harvard as somewhere where people are academically honest and interested in their course work.”

Harvard gave no timetable for its investigation to conclude but officials have said that they will begin almost immediately in working on its education of students on academic dishonesty issues.

POLL - HOW SHOULD HARVARD DEAL WITH THE 125 STUDENTS CAUGHT CHEATING?

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A plagiarism scandal has rocked the office of the Romanian Prime Minister. According to the Associated Press (2012), Victor Ponta stands accused of plagiarizing part of his 2004 doctoral thesis. Nature, a science publication, stated that an anonymous tipster offered papers that reveal that over half of the thesis was plagiarized. The Nature article was written by Quirin Schiermeier, who was concerned about the reputation of science born in Romania (McLaughlin, 2012). Ponta’s thesis, on the International Criminal Court, is said to have been partially written from work previously published by two law scholars, also from Romania (Associated Press, 2012). The Associated Press (2012) quoted Mr. Ponta as saying: ‘“The only reproach I have is that I did not list authors at the bottom of each page, but put them in the bibliography at the end. If this is a mistake, then I am willing to pay for it”’(para.1). Ponta said that he would not resign.

The Prime Minister has only been in office less than two months and plagiarism is the hottest topic on his agenda. His education minister was accused of copying material in a book that he wrote about Romania. The second education minister also resigned under similar circumstances.

Mutler (2012) reported that some Romanian citizens wonder if these accusations are the result of a political vendetta. A contributing factor may be that university degrees have become increasingly important for societal stature since the fall of communism in that country (Mutler, 2012).

Academic plagiarism is commonplace in Romania. Communism fell in 1989, at which time Romania pursued a free market, replete with new institutions of higher learning (Mutler, 2012). In the country, cheating is not unusual, and teachers are said to take bribes regularly. Others believe that degrees can be bought. Medical school cheating is especially troublesome as doctors may not actually have the education they need to practice medicine effectively (Mutler, 2012). This fact raises serious questions about any degree “earned” in Romania.

Recently, other European politicians have been accused of plagiarism. One of these high-profile officials was Karl-Theodore zu Guttenburgh, the former German Defense Minister. The other was ex-Hungarian President, Pal Schmitt. With politicians and scholars being accused of cheating and plagiarizing, and misconduct being a standard way of life in certain cultures, it raises the question about what needs to happen in order for students to change old ways and start learning about academic integrity.

Written by Beth Calvano

References:

McLaughlin, D. (2012, June 20). Romanian PM rejects plagiarism claim. Retrieved from http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/0620/1224318256756.html

Mutler, A. (2012, June 20). Romania PM ensnared in plagiarism scandal. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hAJfLzt-x1pRx9l3QO-m2wqDiZyA?docId=20cf1c55604a4a549128ad470e1a8acd

The Associated Press. (2012, June 20). Romania: Plagiarism scandal ensnares prime minister. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/world/europe/romania-plagiarism-scandal-ensnares-prime-minister.html?_r=1

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Published on by bcalvano.

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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.

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/

WriteCheck by Turnitin is a plagiarism checker service for students.

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Published on by davidr.

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Plagiarism in the academic setting has been a growing problem over the past decade. The problem ranges from students copying Internet materials to outright buying term papers from illegal websites.  Overall, an increasing number of students have been completing their coursework the wrong way. For this reason, technologies like Turnitin have evolved over the years to detect duplicate content even as the methods of plagiarism become more advanced.

The latest advancement for plagiarizers is the utilization of language translation software.  Translation software can be an excellent tool to help international students for whom English is a second language (ESL). Ability to speak and write in English is, for the most part, a necessary component in an international academic setting, and most U.S. colleges and universities require test like TOEFL iBT® Test in order to be considered for acceptance.  Unfortunately, plagiarizers can apply such tactics to get around plagiarism detection systems that don’t have the ability to recognize translated materials.

The newest feature from Turnitin has the capacity to detect plagiarism across the boundaries of language. Right now, this new multilingual anti-plagiarism software is able to catch duplicates from Turkish, Swedish, French, Dutch, Spanish, German and Portuguese, with more languages soon to follow. This feature comes as a pure response to market demand; Turnitin had received numerous requests to make such technology available from its loyal client base.

While we can all hope that tools like this will become unnecessary; that at some point students will realize academic integrity speaks not only of their education but also of their ability to perform and be successful in future endeavors. Today, however, teachers at all levels need access to the tools that will help them safeguard the educational process and academic integrity.

Citations

iParadigms LLC via PRNewsWire.  January 11th, 2012.  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/turnitin-introduces-translated-matching-for-multilingual-plagiarism-detection-137088203.html

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Published on by davidr.

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Written by Beth Calvano, a college English composition instructor who regularly uses Turnitin; also pursuing a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Originally published on Turnitin Blog.

The University of Phoenix uses Turnitin's plagiarism checker software in its Center for Writing Excellence. The software has guided me through a master’s program with the university and through the first courses of my doctorate degree. In the beginning of my master’s program, I used Turnitin to examine whether or not I was using too many quotes, or I was not paraphrasing well enough. As the program continued, I began to use it for checking my academic teams’ contributions. Once, at the eleventh hour of a project, I discovered that a teammate had copied and pasted his portion of the team project. I asked him review his contribution, paraphrase, and properly cite it, averting a possible low grade.

The University of Phoenix’s Student Code of Academic Integrity cites violations as plagiarism, self-plagiarism, fabrication, unauthorized assistance, copyright infringement, misrepresentation, and collusion (University of Phoenix, n.d.). Plagiarism includes copying material verbatim without citation, paraphrasing without citation, using someone else’s work (including purchased work), and the absence of proper citation for data used in a submission (University of Phoenix, n.d.).

Self-plagiarism includes work that has been previously turned-in for another class without citation. This violation surprised many of my classmates. Fabrication includes falsifying any information. Unauthorized assistance includes the use of work created by someone assisting the student, cheating, and a student using someone else to take an exam for him or her (University of Phoenix, n.d.). Copyright infringement includes the use of copyrighted material without permission, and misrepresentation includes lying to justify a missed or late assignment. Finally, collusion includes aiding or allowing another student to commit academic dishonesty (University of Phoenix, n.d.).

Many students do not cite properly or at all because they are not familiar with citation and reference formatting.

The best preventative measure for that issue is to study the format used at your college. The University of Phoenix uses the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) format. The Perdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has been an effective APA format source for me. Only trust professional or academic websites for use. Becoming proficient in your college’s chosen format is imperative. Keeping a list of reference formats that you have used saves time.

Turnitin has been an effective academic tool for me over the years. It has helped me to become a better writer, and helped me to monitor my academic teammates’ project contributions. Academic integrity is imperative. Preventative measures include programs like Turnitin and the proficiency of the student in formal writing formats.

References

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

University of Phoenix. (n.d.). Student code of academic integrity. Retrieved from http://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/student documents/uophx/academic_integrity.htm

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