Campus plagiarism rate rising
Tuesday September 18, 2001
65 cases reported in 2000-2001, nearly 30 more than previous year
The UA discovered more than 60 cases of plagiarism last school year, a more than 75 percent increase from the previous year.
According to the report released by the Dean of Students' Office, of the 135 violations of the University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity committed during the 2000-2001 school year, 65 were plagiarism. Out of 84 violations in 1999-2000, 36 were plagiarism.
Sanctions for plagiarism violations vary, depending on the department and severity of the crime, said Associate Dean of Students Alexis Hernandez.
"(Because there are) levels of plagiarism, a plagiarist's professor decides on his or her sanction," he said.
Punishments range from failure of an assignment to expulsion from the class or university.
Hernandez also said departments weigh the severity of plagiarism differently. He said plagiarism in a journalism class plagiarism is serious and a professor will tend to punish severely.
Journalism professor Susan Knight said while some students plagiarize inadvertently, students "ought to know what they're doing" at the college level.
"Plagiarism is wrong, a sin - you just don't do it," Knight said.
She also said journalism students are taught from the beginning of their education that writing must be original and all their sources must be cited.
She said that last year, the journalism department dealt with some students who used sources and quotes from the Arizona Daily Star without citing them.
Knight said she discovered cases of plagiarism ranging from paragraphs and quotations to extreme cases in which most of a student's paper was copied.
"(Student who plagiarize are) fundamentally cheaters and that education alone won't change them," Knight said.
Physics professor J.D. McCullen said book plagiarism has been around for many years and is easy for experienced teachers to detect. Plagiarism from the Internet is even easier to detect because Internet writers adopt a recognizable style, he said.
He also said that even though instructors almost always catch a plagiarist, they might ignore it if the infraction seems minor or inadvertent.
Most students said their definition plagiarism is similar to the official University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity, which states, "a student's submitted work must be the student's own."
"(Plagiarism is) taking someone else's work without giving credit," said Reid Ikeda, a civil engineering sophomore.
Nadia Mercer, an undeclared freshman, said plagiarism is, "when you copy what somebody has said or written without citing."
Several students admitted to plagiarizing at some point in their student careers, either "intentionally" or "accidentally."
"It's pretty hard not to be tempted by (plagiarism)·it's an easy way out," said marketing junior Nathan McShurley.
McShurley said someone he knows failed a class because he was caught plagiarizing. McShurley then said the person disagreed with the accusation because though he copied ideas, he did not copy them word for word. However, the person did not contest the accusation for fear of further repercussions.