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Filtering by Tag: academic 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/

WriteCheck by Turnitin is a plagiarism checker service for students.

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The Kenyon Collegian published an article that covered a recent increase in plagiarism cases that has led to an evaluation of policy at Ohio’s Kenyon College. Considered one of the more elite liberal arts schools in the country, professors and staff members for the small student population of sixteen hundred discovered a total of 17 cases for the Academic Infractions Board to review during the 2010/2011 school year, near double the amount from the previous year.

Half of the students involved in the cases were first year students, which may have accounted for a number of cases of “unintentional” plagiarism. Administrators look to this statistic as evidence a change in policy or better training on the subject. One such change would be the establishment of a new level of evaluation with the associate provost before having the case brought forward to a hearing. This would give students an opportunity to avoid having charges on their record for unintentional plagiarism offenses. It would also lighten the workload for the AIB.

The Chair of the AIB, philosophy professor Yang Xiao, is in favor of the change, claiming that the increase in cases has made serving on the board comparable to teaching an additional class. An evaluation at the provost level would eliminate much of the burden on what is essentially a volunteer regulatory body. According to Xiao, the changes would be “mainly procedural,” but would streamline the way that cases are brought forward for a hearing. The hope is that a more thorough examination will eliminate some cases, exonerate the innocent, and provide more substantial evidence against the guilty.

The current procedure for those accused of plagiarism involves a series of steps:

  • The first step is a report from the professor to the department chair
  • The department chair then reports it to the AIB Chair and the Dean of Academic Advising and Support
  • The latter two then meet with the student and determine whether or not the case will require a hearing

With the new procedure being proposed, one or more of these steps would be eliminated. The associate provost would have more say in what was carried forward.

According to legal studies professor Ric Sheffield, the current associate provost, Kenyon’s selectivity and the pressure placed on first year students is what is causing the rise in plagiarism cases. “Most students cheat because they are pressed for time,” he said in an interview with the Kenyon Collegian. “They panic and get sloppy. Desperate people do desperate things.” Sheffield feels that instances of plagiarism among first year students are so high that a policy change needs to happen soon.

In addition to changing the way that the investigatory and discipline procedures are structured, Kenyon College is also working on promoting more awareness of its plagiarism policies. The current plagiarism policy is read to first years at student orientation; a time where students are often quite distracted with going to university for the first time.  In addition, professors are not known to cover these policies thoroughly when they distribute their course materials. Both of these procedures are under review.

Citations:

Martinez, Lili. "After Increase in Hearings, Plagiarism Policy to Change." The Kenyon Collegian. May 4th, 2012. http://www.kenyoncollegian.com/news/after-increase-in-hearings-plagiarism-policy-to-change-1.2867774?pagereq=1#.T7LKKVJr21w

Kenyon College. "Compliance, Academic Infractions, and Grievances." http://documents.kenyon.edu/provost/Chapter14Compliance.pdf

Kenyon College. "About Kenyon." www.Kenyon.Edu. http://www.kenyon.edu/about.xml

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