What the plagiarism consequences should be if a student is caught cheating

Consequences to Students of Plagiarism in Academic Settings

Information available on the Internet has led to rising instances of student plagiarism. Blogger YuliyaDanilyuk, of the plagiarism checking service, Unplag.com, wrote in 2015 that "increasing academic dishonesty" is attributed to students' "unlimited access" to the Internet, adding that "Educators are no longer surprised" by the prevalence of plagiarism. The consequences to students should be and in some countries are strict and severe although often matching the degree of academic dishonesty.

One US University has an honor code that applies the same severe consequence to all levels of academic dishonesty. The University of Virginia (UVA) defines plagiarism as "a Significant Act of Lying, Cheating or Stealing, which alleged Act is committed with Knowledge." As UVA defines plagiarism, it is lying, cheating or stealing with deliberate knowledge and intent to do so. For greater clarification, UVA defines cheating as including "plagiarism, ... false citation, false data submission." In their explanation of "Academic Fraud," UVA explains plagiarism as "representing someone else's ideas or work as your own original ideas or work" through "copying a passage straight from a book, a website ... without using quotation marks and explicitly citing the source." At UVA, the uniform consequence of violating the honor code governing cheating as plagiarism is being permanently expelled from the university.

Definitions of Plagiarism

Cambridge Dictionaries defines "plagiarism" as "copying someone else's work or ideas." Oxford Dictionaries defines plagiarism as: "The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own." Random House Dictionary defines plagiarism as "an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and ... as by not crediting the original author." These definitions agree that plagiarism is an act of fraud through which you attribute someone else's "ideas or work" as your own.

Consequences of Plagiarism in England

England's University of Oxford has expanded traditional definitions of knowledgeable intent to include "intentional or reckless, or unintentional" acts of failing to attribute and cite original authorship. Oxford includes significant detail in explaining what works must be attributed or cited:

The necessity to acknowledge others' work or ideas applies not only to text, but also to other media, such as computer code, illustrations, graphs etc. It applies equally to published text and data drawn from books and journals, and to unpublished text and data, whether from lectures, theses or other students' essays. You must also attribute text, data, or other resources downloaded from websites. ("Plagiarism," Study Skills and training, Oxford University)

The consequences of plagiarism at Oxford are as serious and may be as severe as at UVA, but they vary in severity commensurate to the "seriousness of the occurrence," ranging from "deduction of marks to expulsion from the University."

The University of Cambridge concurs with the expansion on knowledgeable intent, writing that "Plagiarism is submitting someone else's work, ideas, or words as your own, irrespective of your intent to deceive." Consequences for those found guilty of plagiarism or any other "breach of academic integrity" are potentially as severe as "deprivation of a degree."

The University of Manchester defines plagiarism as "academic malpractice" with a "deliberate act of cheating" or an act of cheating "committed unintentionally." Manchester specifies that "academic malpractice" is not justified by any circumstance and that "a penalty must always be applied." Manchester specifies that consequences, or penalties, for academic malpractice must be founded on "the principles of natural justice," being fair, without bias and rational.

Consequences of Plagiarism in International Universities

Some international universities have less well defined means of recognizing and addressing breaches of academic integrity. In Russia, President Vladimir Putin's academic record has been called into question because of past allegations made by the US Brookings Institution of plagiarism in his 1996 PhD dissertation in economics. Chinese students, whether studying abroad or studying in US satellite universities, are having degrees withheld or are being expelled for academic dishonesty because of plagiarism or exam cheating. In India, it was announced that in 2015 a first-time law against plagiarism was being drafted by the University Grants Commission overseeing higher education. For students studying in their homelands, consequences for plagiarism may not pose a significant problem because plagiarism itself hasn't previously posed a significant problem, but when these students study abroad or at satellite universities, they may find themselves among groups of hundreds or thousands being expelled or being denied degrees because of plagiarism or other breaches of academic honesty.

Student Stories and Testimonials

In Australia, as originally reported by The Australian, 9000 student visas were cancelled by spring of 20016 for plagiarism or other breaches of academic integrity. One high profile case was that of Pakistani student Shaheryar Khan. Khan appealed his plagiarism case citing lack of emphasis on plagiarism during his prior education; the result was that his appeal was rejected and his stay in Australia on a student visa terminated. In 2010, as reported by the University of Southern California, 400 Chinese-speaking students studying in an MBA satellite program sponsored by Centenary College in New Jersey were denied their degrees because of plagiarism.

Students found guilty of plagiarism and other breaches of academic ethics at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, are required as part of their penalty to write a testimonial of their plagiarism and its consequences. Windsor students often cite stress and panic over coursework as the reasons for their breach of academic integrity. One fourth-year student at Windsor tells of how he had a difficult project assignment that coincided with midterm exams. He started work on his project early but found he didn't understand it. Asking a friend who had already had the class for help, he borrowed his friend's project. Midterms loomed nearer and other class assignments added a crushing weight of responsibility. Instead of continuing with his project, he made a few minor wording changes to his friend's project and passed it in as his own work. The consequence of his plagiarism was a penalty of "academic suspension for two full semesters."


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