“Academic misconduct is dishonest or unethical academic behavior that includes, but is not limited, to misrepresenting mastery in an academic area (e.g., cheating), failing to properly credit information, research or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research or ideas as your own (e.g., plagiarism).” — University of Connecticut, Student Code, Appendix A
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism can be a deliberate action, in cases of downloading or purchasing pre-written essays; or accidental, when a student paraphrases incorrectly or assumes that because the information is online it needs no attribution. Presenting the same paper in two or more courses without the explicit permission of the instructors involved is also considered a form of academic misconduct. Recycling papers addresses various ethical issues, including “self-plagiarism, ” providing individuals with an unfair academic advantage, and undermining the objectives associated with a particular assignment. Is plagiarism on the rise? Plagiarism issues appear to be more prevalent today because of the Internet and the ease with which information can be retrieved and transferred onto a paper. A UConn Report indicated that prior to college, nearly 30% of freshmen claimed to have knowingly plagiarized and nearly 43% of respondents claimed to have unknowingly plagiarized.
Why do students plagiarize?
- Lack of research skills. Many undergraduate students do not know how to search for academic sources or use journals and periodicals.
- Confusion about how to properly cite sources, including inexperience in distinguishing between a paraphrase, summary, and “common knowledge.”
- Lack of understanding of plagiarism, copyright, and public domain. Students assume that material from the Internet can be used without citing it.
- Ethical misconceptions which focus more on high grades and career aspirations rather than education and the learning experience.
- Poor time management and organizational skills that lead to procrastination and last minute attempts to put a paper together.
- Cultural differences among international students who assume that copying is acceptable.
Preventing plagiarism in the classroom
Instructors are advised by the Dean of Students Office (DOAS) to ” take all reasonable steps to prevent academic misconduct.”
- Include an “Academic Misconduct” statement in your syllabus, including:
- clarification of any specific style/format requirement for the course
- quotations from the Student Conduct Policies, Part IV on Academic Integrity
- how you intend to handle violations
- Discuss plagiarism and utilize class time to encourage students to paraphrase and summarize as an exercise in developing their own ideas.
- Plan a library session to familiarize students with search options from databases and print resources. Students can also acquire research skills by working with a library specialist.
- Provide guidance on citation styles and preferred formats and encourage students to visit the writing center to learn how to paraphrase and summarize accurately.
- Avoid generic assignments that are easy to search online and lead to essays from paper mills. Test your topic by searching it on a popular search engine to see what papers and resources are available.
- Assign short writing assignments early on so that you can familiarize yourself with the students’ ability level and writing style.
- Alleviate time management issues by asking for assignments in stages, for example, a thesis statement, outline, bibliography, draft and a final product. Refer students to the Assignment Calculator which provides deadlines necessary to complete assignments on time.
- Include a point value for accurate citations of any materials used.
- Require that references be dated within the last five years or less since many pre-written papers are typically dated.
- Assign a research log so that students may documents their research strategy, indicating the library databases used, search strategy, and usefulness of the resources.
- Require a variety of appropriate sources, including the library’s print collection, scholarly articles from specialized databases, and reputable web pages.
- Required students to include a sentence at the top of the assignment stating that they are aware of the Student Code and and not violated it.
Tools to recommend to students
- Understanding Plagiarism, a tutorial from UConn Library
- Citing Sources, a UConn guide to introduce citing MLA, APA styles and more
- Citation Machine, interactive citation tool for MLA and APA styles
- KnightCite, interactive citation tool for MLA, APA, and Chicago styles
- Assignment Calculator, interactive tool that provides a timeline for writing
- Research QuickStart, guidance on common questions and needs in the research process
- Research Now, guides to help you develop your research skills
- How to recognize plagiarism from Indiana University
- Unusual formatting, layout, and use of multiple fonts
- References with missing or incomplete citations
- Rambling essay, containing a few related paragraphs and extensive use use of jargon or advanced vocabulary
- Frequent changes in terminology and style signal cutting & pasting
- Dated or obscure references not readily available in the UConn Library or local libraries
- Writing voice is considerably different from the student’s regular voice.
Tools for faculty
- Google Advanced Search and other search engines detect multiple phrases that you suspect are plagiarized. Select up to 32 words from a suspect paper or choose a phrase and place quotes around it.
- SafeAssign is available on campus through HuskyCT and can serve as a strong deterrent to plagiarism if students are aware of it. The software has limitations in searching for materials from numerous subscription-based databases and print resources.
- Google a few topics and notice highly ranked web pages
Detailed policies and procedures are available at: Appendix A: Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research. Please refer to Part VI and Part VII of the Student Code and Academic Misconduct FAQ links. The following information is excerpted from the Student Code: When an instructor believes there is sufficient information to demonstrate a case of academic misconduct, s/he shall notify the student in writing of the allegation of misconduct and the academic consequences that the instructor will impose. The appropriate academic consequence for serious offenses is generally considered to be failure in the course. For offenses regarding small portions of the course work, failure for that portion is suggested with the requirement that the student repeat the work for no credit. The written notification shall also inform the student whether the case has been referred to the Academic Integrity Hearing Board (Board) for consideration of additional sanctions. The instructor shall send the written notification to the student with a copy to the Office of Community Standards (Community Standards) within five business days of having discovered the alleged misconduct. Academic misconduct reports, including the written notification sent to students, can be submitted by using this reporting form. At the Regional Campuses, a copy shall be sent to the Office of Student Affairs (Regional Campus Student Affairs). Cases that are purely technical in nature, without any perceived intent to achieve academic advantage, may be reported at the discretion of the instructor.