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Plagiarism Workshop: Observations

This guides addresses plagiarism in a number of ways. Primarily it serves to educate in-coming students on what constitutes plagiarism and informs them of the policies and procedures for those students accused of acts of plagiarism.

Prevailence of Plagiarism

In a population the size of the Stark Campus, approximately how many students do you think commit acts of plagiarism?

Prevailence of Plagiarism
Most Students: 9 votes (19.15%)
Many Students: 23 votes (48.94%)
Only a few Students: 15 votes (31.91%)
Total Votes: 47

Studies Show

When students are asked how prevailent they believe plagiarism is in their own population, they respond in interesting ways. Here are a couple of examples reported by Scanlon and Neumann of how students perceive the prevailance of plagiarism in their own peer group:

  • 50.4%* of students believe their peers cut and paste from the internet and hand in as their own work. Interestly, when asked if they have ever plagiarized only 8%* admit to it. 
  • 62.2%* of students believe that their peers purchase papers from online paper mills (and hand them in as their own work) while only 8.3%* admit to doing it themselves.

These contradictions imply that either:

students believe that plagiarism occurs more often than it actually does, or

students are not answering honestly (when polled) about their own behavior

*Scanlon, P.M., and D.R. Neumann. “Internet Plagiarism among college students.” Journal of College Student Development 43:3 (2002): 374-385.

Severity of Plagiarism

In terms of severity in a college or university environment, how bad would you say plagiarism is? 

Severity of Plagiarism
The worst thing a student could do: 11 votes (32.35%)
It's bad and students should not do it, but it is not the worst thing a student could do: 19 votes (55.88%)
It's only bad if you get caught: 4 votes (11.76%)
Total Votes: 34

Plagiarism is Not a Crime

Plagiarism is an act of academic dishonesty. It is a form of thief--stealing someone else's intellectual property (an idea or words expressing a unique concept, for example). However, no one has ever been charged or arrested for plagiarism. There are other related behaviors that go hand-in-hand with plagiarism. Copyright is a legal term and anyone who uses property that is owned by someone who has the copyright for that property, can be sued for copyright infringement. Still, although not a crime or even civil offense, students who intentionally plagiarize are subject to disciplinary action; they may not go to jail but they could be suspended or expelled from school.