Walsh College

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Nov 6 2012
Plagiarism – Don’t Do It!

Guest blog by:
David Shields
Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer

One of the most difficult parts of my job is meeting with students who have been accused of turning in papers with significant amounts of plagiarized content.  I have come to understand that many students really don’t understand what plagiarism is, or how to avoid it.

Plagiarism is detected in student papers when the professor runs it through Turnitin.com.  This web site searches for word matches anywhere on the web, so if a student has copied a passage, Turnitin will find it.  Students may cite passages word – for – word if they properly cite the passage’s source.  At Walsh, we expect that these citations be cited using American Psychological Association (APA) format (Walsh APA handbook).

As McCarthy and Rogerson (2009) explain, there are three different kinds of plagiarism:

  1. Intentional Plagiarism:  Where the student intentionally copies content from published sources, and then uses it in her term paper without citation.
  2. Unintentional Plagiarism:  Where the student includes content from published sources and intends to cite, but does so incorrectly.
  3. Non-Plagiarism:  The use of common words and phrases that are identified as content from published sources, but are effectively in the public domain (e.g., “the Ford Motor Company and subsidiaries”).

Non-plagiarism is (of course) not plagiarism, and should not be held against the student. 

Intentional plagiarism will be discovered, and the student will be accused of academic misconduct.  This will likely result in a 0 on the assignment, at minimum, and may result in the student being failed in the course.  An “F” resulting from academic misconduct is not eligible for grade replacement.  So, please don’t do it!

Unintentional plagiarism is the most difficult to deal with, because the student is guilty of an error in format, not academic dishonesty.  Yet, unintentional plagiarism often results in a penalty similar to that from intentional plagiarism, because it is often not possible to determine the student’s intent conclusively.

So please remember.  As you put together your next term paper or essay, if you take material from a published source, please attribute the quote correctly!  Use quotations marks and appropriate citation format when you do.  And, please, don’t think that you will be able to slip a little “borrowed” content into your paper without citation.  Turnitin is very thorough, and it has no sense of humor.

McCarthy, G. & Rogerson, A. M. (2009). Links are not enough: using originality reports to improve academic standards, compliance and learning outcomes among postgraduate students. Int Journal Ed Integrity, 5 (2), 47-57.


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