Articles

Plagiarism, Original Works, and Academic Integrity

Student: Ronald Huereca
Date: 9/2/04
Topic: Plagiarism, Original Works, and Academic Integrity

Introduction

More students are coming into higher levels of education under-prepared. These students cannot read or write very well, cannot think with intellectual depth, and have the wrong skills for life-long learning. Many students have the attitude that they would like the degree, but not have the knowledge (Abramson, 2001). With this attitude and having an under-prepared education, eighty percent of college-bound students have admitted to some form of cheating (Latest Facts). To curb cheating, instructors need to uphold the ten principles of academic integrity. Three principles addressed are instructor accountability, the Internet, and cheating opportunities (McCabe & Pavela, 2004). To assist instructors with these three areas, there is a web-based program called Turnitin that detects plagiarized material and provides students with a necessary deterrent (Plagiarism Prevention).

Summary

Using elementary guidelines for evaluation of graduate level work, some students still lack the necessary essentials when it comes to the areas of grammar, spelling, organization, and content. Many of these students have made it to the master’s level of education with minimal writing ability and skill sets. In addition, many students feel that education is a purchasable product, which is refundable if necessary. Students are at a point that if an instructor assigns work too difficult or does not teach well enough, students will demand refunds. With students having a customer mentality that they can purchase grades or degrees with minimal work, students may breach an instructor’s boundary of academic integrity (Abramson, 2001).

As the boundaries of academic integrity blur, the opportunities increase for the rationalization of cheating and plagiarism (McCabe & Pavela, 2004). Along with cheating, plagiarism among students is growing at an alarming pace. With the Internet in the mainstream, the ability to plagiarize content within a paper has increased dramatically (Plagiarism Prevention). According to a 2003 study, thirty-eight percent of students admitted to “cut and paste” Internet plagiarism in the previous year (Latest Facts). There are even Internet websites that specialize in writing research papers or using existing ones for a fee (Ivy).

To deter cheating and plagiarism, teachers need to follow and uphold the ten principles of academic integrity written by Donald McCabe and Gary Pavela. Among these ten principles are the needs to affirm the role of an instructor as a guide or mentor, help students understand the potential of the Internet, and reduce opportunities to engage in dishonest behavior (McCabe & Pavela, 2004).

The first principle addressed is the instructor’s role as a guide or mentor. The instructor is responsible for helping students understand academic integrity as well as enforcing the consequences when a student cheats. Unfortunately, many instructors do not hold students accountable. For example, of 2,500 faculty members interviewed by McCabe, forty-four percent said they had overlooked at least one form of cheating. In addition, a little over one third failed to include information about academic integrity in their syllabi (McCabe & Pavela, 2004).

The second principle addressed is that students should be educated about the use of Internet resources. Instructors should teach that the Internet is a useful tool if used properly. Unfortunately, many students are downloading or buying research papers off the Internet. With so many students plagiarizing to inflate grades, some honest students feel they have to resort to plagiarizing in order to compete. In addition, with Internet plagiarizing becoming more rampant, many instructors are abandoning written assignments altogether (McCabe & Pavela, 2004).

The third principle addressed is the need for instructors to reduce the opportunities for students to engage in unethical or dishonest behavior. First, instructors need to show that they will not tolerate the behavior by including academic integrity clauses in their syllabi. Instructors should also take away or reduce the temptation for students to cheat. Common student temptations are instructors that give unrealistic expectations of quality, have poor examination security, and give undefined standards for collaboration (McCabe & Pavela, 2004). To reduce opportunities to cheat, instructors should also use an anti-plagiarism tool such as Turnitin (Plagiarism Prevention).

To solve the problems of academic integrity in the areas of accountability, the Internet, and cheating opportunities, Turnitin software assists the instructor in detecting and deterring plagiarism. With Turnitin, instructor accountability increases because the students know that the instructor is taking plagiarism seriously. In addition, Turnitin discourages plagiarism from the Internet because Turnitin uses Internet search software to update its database of original works. Furthermore, Turnitin helps limit cheating opportunities by taking the Internet and periodicals out of the equation with it comes to plagiarizing material (Plagiarism Prevention).

Turnitin works by scanning incoming documents submitted by instructors or students against other documents in three main databases. The three databases Turnitin uses are all previously submitted papers, millions of books and periodicals, and a current archived copy of the Internet with over 4.5 billion pages. If the student’s work is suspect of plagiarism, Turnitin provides a report that links the unoriginal work with the original source. This report provides instructors with the necessary proof that instructors need to confront students with plagiarism (Plagiarism Prevention).

Significance of article

More and more students are rising to higher levels of education with poor writing and learning skills. An attitude such as students being consumers and that education is a product is causing the boundaries of academic integrity to crumble (Abramson, 2001). Instructors are responsible for upholding and maintaining academic integrity, yet some lack the necessary guidelines in their syllabi and others do not enforce standards of academic integrity when cheating occurs (McCabe & Pavela, 2004). Anti-plagiarism tools such as Turnitin provide instructors with additional assistance in not only spotting cheating, but deterring it as well. Turnitin gives accountability to students and limits the amount of places a student can plagiarize. Turnitin, when used effectively, can aid the instructor in upholding integrity by detecting and preventing plagiarism (Plagiarism Prevention).

References

Abramson, T. (2001). From the Desk of the Executive Editor: Pipe Dreams. Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 15(4), 4-5. Retrieved August 25, 2004, from here

McCabe, D.L. & Pavela, G. (May/June 2004). Ten [Updated] Principles of Academic Integrity. New Rochelle, 36(3), 10-15. Retrieved August 25, 2004, from ProQuest database.

Ivy Research Papers. Retrieved August 26, 2004 from here

Turnitin: Latest Facts. Retrieved August 25, 2004 from here

Turnitin: Plagiarism Prevention. Retrieved August 25, 2004 from here

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