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Plagiarism and Cheating in the Internet Era Prof. David A. Salomon Russell Sage College “He who writes last comes off best”-- Seneca.

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Presentation on theme: "Plagiarism and Cheating in the Internet Era Prof. David A. Salomon Russell Sage College “He who writes last comes off best”-- Seneca."— Presentation transcript:

1 Plagiarism and Cheating in the Internet Era Prof. David A. Salomon Russell Sage College “He who writes last comes off best”-- Seneca

2 “Adam was the only man who, when he said a good thing, knew that nobody had said it before him." Mark Twain

3 Defining... Plagiarism is defined as “appropriating someone else’s words or ideas without acknowledgement” (Encyclopedia of Ethics) The word “plagiarism” is derived from the Latin plagiarius, meaning to kidnap. When one plagiarizes, he kidnaps someone else’s baby, stealing their ideas.



6 Why students plagiarize Writing and Research Skills Lack of research skills Problems evaluating Internet sources Confusion between plagiarizing and paraphrasing Confusion about terminology Careless note taking Confusion about properly citing sources

7 Misunderstanding Key Concepts Misconception of plagiarism Misconception of intellectual property, copyright, and public domain Misconception of common knowledge Perception of any online information as public knowledge

8 External Factors Pressure from family Student ethics and relationship with the college Commodification of knowledge and education

9 Internal Factors Poor time management and organizational skills Cultural Factors Culturally based attitudes towards plagiarism

10 Some students do not come to higher education seeking an education. Instead, they want a credential that will get them a job. Learning is not a priority; getting a good job at graduation is. “Get an education... Not just a degree!”

11 Is this important? What if: –Your architect cheated his way through math class. Will your new home be safe? –Your lawyer paid for a copy of the bar exam to study. Will the contract she wrote for you stand up in court? –The accountant who does your taxes hired someone to write his papers and paid a stand-in to take his major tests? Does he know enough to complete your tax forms properly? (Lathrop, Ann and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era.Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, )

12 Statistics don’t lie A survey of over 63,700 US undergraduate over the course of three years ( )--conducted by Donald McCabe, Rutgers University--revealed the following: –36% of undergraduates admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from Internet source without footnoting it.” –38% admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from written source without footnoting it.” –14% of students admit to “fabricating/falsifying a bibliography” –7% self report copying materials “almost word for word from a written source without citation.” –7% self report “turning in work done by another.” –3% report “obtaining paper from term paper mill.” In a different study, 73% of students taking online courses admit to having cheated.


14 Any item, including a web site, is automatically the copyrighted property of its creator. Therefore, credit must be given. Investigate the specifics of the “Fair Use” law—resulting from the 1976 Copyright Law and the infamous Kinko’s case in 1991.

15 Where are they getting it from? In AP Business Wire reported that traffic to cheating sites exceeded 2.6 million hits per month Paper Mills: – had 72,000 members with 60,000 hits per day—and it’s completely free! –The Evil House of Cheat had 9500 papers in its databases and reported 4000 visitors per day—with over 70,000 available essays. – reported being profitable “from day one.” Currently, 10,000 people visit the site daily with 2 million page views per month.

16 What other sources are they using? Personal web sites Online journals and databases Course pages at other schools Instructor notes posted to the Internet Online discussion lists/”listservs” But don’t forget traditional print sources as well!

17 Detecting Plagiarism A student's paper exceeds his or her research or writing capabilities, sounds professional or journalistic, or is too scholarly. The student's paper contains complex or specialized vocabulary, jargon, technical terms, or other words and expressions beyond what would be expected from a student at that level. The quality of writing is inconsistent. For example, the introduction or conclusion may be poorly written compared to the body of the paper. The title page, font, references, format, or layout of the paper are inconsistent. There are embedded links, page breaks, or incorrect page numbers in the paper. The topic of the paper isn't consistent with the assignment, class lectures, or class handouts.

18 The bibliography is odd in some way. For example, it may be long, the style guide used for the bibliography is different from the one used in class, the citations are all from older sources, or few or none of the materials referenced can be accessed in the library. There are links or URLs at the top or bottom of the paper or greyed out letters or areas. As a general rule, follow your instincts. Most professors can gauge what level their students are at. The references are all from books not available at your school, or are all from another country “This one works a little better on recycled papers than it does on Internet papers, at least in some cases, but a good sign of a plagiarized paper is that all the references in the bibliography are at least five or ten years old. I recall one case when I was in graduate school (in 1993) that had no references from after 1978; the paper also referred to ‘President Carter’ in the present tense.” Stephen Schmidt Union College

19 “If an essay/composition does not require a bibliography, it is a ‘give away’ if the student's composition/essay is beyond or does not reflect the student's grade level, OR, it has no or very few English--spelling, syntax, etc.--errors contained within it.” from user, Jauhara Care

20 Prevention? Talk openly with students about plagiarism. Define it clearly and give clear examples. Obtain a sample of the student's in-class writing at the start of a semester in order to have a basis for comparison if plagiarism is later suspected. Retain that writing sample in your office files. Discuss copyright laws and the Internet. Teach bibliographic citation: MLA, APA, Chicago Manual. Structure a research assignment so that various stages are due at different times. Confer with students about their progress.

21 Require students turn in a thesis statement/abstract, annotated bibliography, outline, rough draft, and photocopies of cited references. Consider having students use a note-taking method whereby black text signifies ideas of others while green text represents fresh thinking or the new ideas of the student. Have students keep a journal or reflect on their progress in completing a major assignment. Let them consider the effectiveness of their final product and the efficiency of the research process.

22 Discourage projects that ask students to simply gather facts about a topic. Prefer projects that require analysis, explanation, and problem solving. Emphasize essential questions—questions worth asking that touch upon basic human issues or lie at the heart of a discipline. Encourage students to ask their own questions and formulate their own answers. Send students to materials that help them to evaluate the usefulness and applicability of all sources, but especially web sources.

23 Not everyone agrees that plagiarism detection services will eliminate online term paper sites. Services like "are proof of the impact that School Sucks is having," says Kenny Sahr, founder of "We plan on keeping those folks at busy." Yes.Yes

24 Academic Cheating 80% of the country's best students cheated to get to the top of their class. More than half the students surveyed said that they don't think cheating is a big deal. 95% of cheaters say they were not caught. 40% cheated on a quiz or a test. 67% copied someone else's homework.

25 It is no longer this obvious



28 From



31 Prevention? A clear honor code Clear guidelines for prosecuting cheating and plagiarism cases Clear punishments Evidence that rules are being enforced Without these, talk about cheating and plagiarism is just talk

32 Academic Honesty: Plagiarism is the theft of someone else's ideas and work. Whether a student copies verbatim or simply rephrases the ideas of another without properly acknowledging the source, the theft is the same. In the preparation of work submitted to meet course requirements, whether a draft or a final version of a paper, project, or computer program, students must take great care to distinguish their own ideas and language from information derived from sources. Sources include published primary and secondary materials, the Internet, and information and opinions gained directly from other people. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student's reading and research, the sources must be properly cited. The instructor will use the College’s subscription to The course ID is *** and the password is ***. It is the student's responsibility to learn the proper forms of citation according to standards delineated by The Sage Colleges. Students who have questions about the standards of scholarly writing should speak with their instructors before beginning research on assigned papers and projects. Violations include, at the discretion of the instructor, failure for the individual paper to failure for the course; such violations may be entered in the student’s permanent academic record, and upon multiple offenses the Dean may recommend expulsion from the College. Syllabus Statement


34 Professor David A. Salomon

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