Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ethics for Magical People: Copying (2 of 2)

The third factor to consider is the degree and type of plagiarism.  Our Lady of the Lake College (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), in their paper “Penalties for Plagiarism”, state that the “severity of penalty matches the severity of the plagiarism.”  The college lists punishments that the faculty could employ ranging from the lowering the student’s grade on the paper to failing him on the course.  Added to those are the college’s punishments, which range from official warnings to expulsion.  The college considers the least offense to be improperly documenting a quote, with the most egregious being, of course, purchasing a paper.

On the other hand, Rutgers University (New Jersey) has a zero tolerance policy concerning copying and pasting.  In their policy handouts, the university states “Plagiarism is a university offense.”  In fact, Rutgers considers all form of plagiarism to be the same -- from sloppy citations to purchasing papers.  The least punishment that the University will consider for plagiarism is entering the offense on the student’s record.

Two key pieces of information in deciding Phillip’s punishment is his admission that he neither bother to learn the University’s policy on plagiarism nor the Library’s guidelines on citing sources.  Another is that although he copied and pasted parts of a particular chapter, Phillip did put the source in the reference section of his paper.  These facts point to a careless and sloppy student. 

But Mathews points out how cunning students can be.  Phillip could be feigning ignorance since he did not expect to be caught.  In discussing a local cheating scandal at a high school, Mathews cites a study that claims that eighty percent of college students admitted to cheating in high school.  Also Mathews points out the pervasive idea, which lurks in the general culture, that cheating should be celebrated or at least winked at.

In Phillip’s case, he has already received a failing grade from his teacher.  Moreover the professor referred his cheating to the Discipline Committee, which does indicate the seriousness of Phillip’s offense.  Since Phillip is ignorant of university policies, as part of his punishment, I would recommend that he write a paper on them, and demonstrate the proper methods of citing.  He would do this during his week of suspension from the University.

This punishment would deal directly with Phillip and his claim of carelessness.  It would also alert his friends to the seriousness of copying others’ work without giving them proper credit.  It would put his friends on notice that professors do check their submissions, and report any offense to the Discipline Committee.  The University’s stance that plagiarism is a serious crime would also be upheld.  This suspension and paper submission would satisfy both punishing Phillip and keeping the University’s spotless reputation intact.

Works Used:
Bora, Chandramita, “Consequences of Plagiarism – Penalties for Plagiarism”, Plagiarism:, 12 October 2011,, .

Chobharkar, Pankaj, “Avoiding Plagiarism”, Plagiarism:, 30 September 2011,, .

----, “Guidelines for Dealing with Plagiarism”, Interdisciplinary Studies Program, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Wayne State University, 21 April 2004,, .

Mathews, Jay, “Class Struggle – Jay Mathews on Education”, blog, “The Washington Post”,, 2012, .

Moonwriter, ed., “Policy on Plagiarism”, “Appendix E”, “The Grey School of Wizardry General Handbook of Official Policies and Parameters”, January 2010, downloaded PDF.

Nakate, Shashank, “Plagiarism Consequences in College”, Plagiarism:, 9 September 2011,, .

----, “OLOLC Plagiarism Policies”, Our Lady of the Lake College, 7 October 2010, , .
----, “Penalties for Plagiarism”, Our Lady of the Lake College, 7 October 2010,, .

-----, “Plagiarism Policy”, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, 23 July 2007,, .

Rajeev, Loveleena, “Different Types of Plagiarism”, Plagiarism:, 18 July 2012,, .

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