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Academic Plagiarism

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College Plagiarism in AU and U. S Universities
Currently, academic journals are increasingly seeing submissions which most of the details have been copied from the same author. In a word, plagiarism is act of fraud. But it’s not to deny that student plagiarism is a serious problem on many college campuses. For instance: Hiring “ghost writers” to finish their essay assignment; Copying and pasting other people’s intellectual property without giving sufficient credit; Miss citing resources not under purpose etc. Among all kinds of cases of plagiarism, we could roughly divide into two categories: Intentional and unintentional plagiarism. While acknowledging the fact that unintentional plagiarism is not guilt as intentional plagiarism, it is still against the Academic Integrity code of each university in United States and should be fairly punished judging on the extent.
Although plagiarism is not stealing anything physically, the harm of plagiarism still exists no matter what. According to Lawrence C. Becker, a Professor of Philosophy Emeritus from the College of William & Mary mentioned in his book Encyclopedia of Ethics, “In the realm of ideas and their expression, one is evaluated not for owning the rights to a work but for having been its originator”(Becker and Becker, 3). Sharing the same idea with Becker, I consider without realizing that ideas should come from themselves and copying others instead, college students could be punished later on in their business/academic career.
In general, if students excerpting from the published theses as own creation without the permission of the author or source. The act is plagiarism. According to the Plagiarism Tutorial of Duke University, intentional plagiarism is claiming sole authorship of a work that you know to have been largely written by someone else. While unintentional plagiarism is plagiarism that results from the disregard for proper scholarly procedures. Students could commit plagiarism when accidentally miss citing the source. For instance, left out the in-text citation while giving credits to the author of the source in the “Reference Page”. This kind of “non-purposed” plagiarism could then be defined as unintentional plagiarism. But before getting through this kind of plagiarism, we ought to take a look into intentional plagiarism and compare it to unintentional plagiarism. Various of examples could be made regarding to Intentional plagiarism, as the Plagiarism Tutorial of Duke University mentioned,
Examples of Intentional Plagiarism: Purchasing a pre-written paper (either by mail or electronically). Letting someone else write part or all of a paper for you. Paying someone else to write part or all of a paper for you. Submitting as your own someone else 's unpublished work (including a computer program or algorithm), either with or without permission. Submitting as your own, work done jointly by a group in which you may have participated. Submitting work done by you, but for another class or another purpose without documenting that it was previously used. Creating phony citations.
Among all the examples of intentional plagiarism, Cyber-plagiarism is the most popular resource for college students to access the online “paper mills”. In her book Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era, Ann Lathrop, a Professor of Emerita, California State University, Long Beach explained that:
“Cyber-plagiarism” is the term for student copying from the many online websites, or paper mills, which offer thousands of reports and term papers on almost any topic. Student use of the Internet is described by one author as “a big study group and an endless archive of cut-and-paste essay components [where] the ability to easily scoop a little flotsam from the vast oceans of the Internet doesn’t seem nearly as nefarious as pilfering a passage from a library book” (Fritz, pars. 6-7)
Since Internet is an essential tool for college and universities to assist in education nowadays, the popularity of “online paper mills” is increasing. The easiness of plagiarism is also increasing simultaneously, as Professor Lathrop mentioned, “Downloading a paper requires just a computer, a printer, and access to the Internet. A credit card is needed only when the student does not locate a suitable free paper.” (Lathrop 19) As Professor Lathrop illustrated in her book, the “near at hand” resource--- Internet assists students to commit Intentional plagiarism. Not making excuses for students who plagiarized, the fact that Internet creates an easy path for students to slack off is one of the causes of how cases of plagiarism proliferated in recent years. According to Don McCabe’s research shown below, who is a Professor of Management and Global Business at Rutgers University.

Table 1: Perceived Seriousness of Different Behaviors Related to Written Work

Approximately 56% and 68% of the undergraduate/graduate students have paraphrasing/copying sentences from Internet source without footnoting it. (See Table 1) While acknowledging the fact that there are more than half of participants admitted committing plagiarism, what should draw our attention is the “Internet source”. By searching through the Internet, students found it much easier to disobey the AIC (academic integrity code) of their colleges/universities. Regarding to the AIC, American University has a very strict and comprehensive Academic Integrity system. According to the official website of AIC (Academic Integrity Code),
“Academic integrity essentially means "intellectual honesty": honesty in the use of information, in formulating arguments, and in other activities related to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. It is a core principle that underpins how we live and learn in a community of inquiry. As members of an academic community, we are entitled to a wide degree of freedom in the pursuit of scholarly interests. With that freedom, however, comes the responsibility to uphold the high ethical standards of academic conduct. American University 's Academic Integrity Code sets forth standards of academic conduct, defines academic violations, and outlines the adjudication process for academic offenses.” (AU AIC office)
The Academic Integrity Code is established to serve as a criterion for preventing plagiarism form happening. The AIC office deals with both intentional and unintentional plagiarism, the students are ensured to be fairly judged by AIC office. While intentional plagiarism is becoming a more and more serious issue, the other aspect of plagiarism—unintentional plagiarism also requires educator’s attention. “Waltman makes a distinction of the intentional/unintentional plagiarism as “the wholesale copying of another’s paper with the intention of representing” and “citing of source material such that improper or misleading credit is given (37)” (Lathrop, 163). The very distinction between intentional and unintentional plagiarism should be noticed. Since unintentional plagiarism is not “wholesale copying” of others intellectual property with representing it as one’s own idea. It is, in fact an improper citation made with no intention. Hence the result of intentional and unintentional plagiarism should be given differently. For International Students like me, unintentional plagiarism may come from cultural difference. Back in my home country China, we do not have the same citing system as in the US. In an academic article, we would not mention the author’s name until the end, which is the works cited page. Hence International students could easily violate the AIC. While acknowledging the fact that they are different, unintentional plagiarism could be dangerous. The best example would be my own experience recently.
During the writing process of my recent College-Writing paper, which is regarded to the topic as college ranking, I accidentally miss cited few lines in my paper. Which involved myself in big trouble. While having an appointment with professor Dadak, she had a serious conversation on this issue. Although she understood I was from China and currently was not adapted to the American citing system, she strongly suggested me to pay more attention on unintentional plagiarism. Because if I do this again, I would definitely violate the Academic Integrity Code of American University and would also be reported to the AIC office, which may comes with huge consequences. After the talk with professor Dadak, I was confused. Is the Academic Integrity Code of AU a fair criterion for plagiarism? It did not take long time for me to seek out the answer. During the last part of this semester, we were assigned with a research paper in College Writing class. It came to my mind that it would be worth to conduct a research on the topic confused me for a long time--- Is Academic Integrity Code a fair criterion for unintentional plagiarism? With another appointment with professor Dadak, she fully supported my idea and recommended a perfect expert to interview with--- Jawee Perla, a Senior International Student Advisor of American University, who is experienced dealing with intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Being a Senior International Student Advisor, Mr. Jawee would be a perfect match for my interview since I am an international student with questions regarding to plagiarism. “Plagiarism is like stealing a car, changing the paint of the car would not change the fact that you are committing the crime of theft, so as the fact that the car does not belong to you.” (Jawee Perla, Personal Interview, 13 November 2013) My interview with Mr. Jawee started with his vivid description of plagiarism. He explained to me that the Academic Integrity Code is established in order to remind students how important intellectual property is and the importance of original ideas. In recent years, some students used resources found on line and organize them together to form an “original” paper, which originally is not. According to Mr. Jawee, In order to prevent plagiarism from happening in the first place, College Writing Class is set as a mandatory course for incoming freshman of American University. Especially for international students, College Writing class would assist them write formal academic paper and educate them of plagiarism in the first place to avoid unintentional plagiarism. With that being said, when the freshmen eventually become sophomores, there will be no tolerance toward any violation regarding to the Academic Integrity Code. The interview drastically changed my view on AU’s academic integrity policies and I did get my answer to the question: Is Academic Integrity Code a fair criterion for unintentional plagiarism? The answer is: Yes. After one year of education on this topic, there are truly no excuses for anybody to plagiarize. And this fair environment would assist the AIC office to make fair judgments regarding to this issue. Driven under my curiosity, I raised another question to Mr. Jawee: What kind of sanctions would the student face if violating the Academic Integrity Code? “There would be four levels of sanctions put on the student. From low to high, getting a “Fail” of the course; an approved temporary suspension of schooling for the student, and drop out of school. For the ones who are seemed as first offenders, they would be graded as “Fail” on their transcripts. Not because the School wants to punish them, but a lesson to give to those who committed plagiarism.”(Jawee Perla, Personal Interview, 13 November 2013)
The interview worth every second with the answer I got. But soon another question made me ponder: Are there other ways to ensure students avoiding any AIC violations? Wang, Yu-Wei, a Professor of University of Alabama at Birmingham would probably have a resolution to my question. In her article “University Student Online Plagiarism”, she mentioned that “Institutions need to help students develop a shared understanding of institutional policy on plagiarism, teach students essential scholarly skills in avoiding plagiarism, and reform teaching to encourage learning and discourage plagiarism. Although students are fundamentally responsible for their behaviors, a strong climate of academic integrity will help students make the right choice.” (Wang 756) I personally agree with Wang’s opinion. With the strong academic integrity climate created and making students to realize they are fundamentally responsible for what they did, colleges and universities could definitely reduce the amount of plagiarism, regardless of Intentional or unintentional. For the students who consider themselves not “mature” enough in academic writing, these few tips offered in Scholastic News, “Whenever you use words, ideas, or graphics that are not your own, always cite (give credit to) the original sources; Use quotation marks around any quotes or sections of text that are taken word-for-word from your source, and cite the source; Don 't just rearrange or replace a few words from the original text and call it your own. Double check your work against the original sources to be sure, and check all facts against at least two reliable resources. These include respected organizations, such as government (.gov) or educational (.edu) sites.”(Avoid Plagiarism) Students should always pay attention to what they are putting down onto the paper and keep in mind that citation is needed when what you present is not common knowledge. Generally, plagiarism is conducted when without the permission of the author or source, excerpting from the published theses as own creation. It could be divided into two categories: Intentional plagiarism and unintentional plagiarism. While intentional plagiarism definitely violates the AIC code, unintentional plagiarism may come from unfamiliarity of the citing system and cultural difference that the incoming international freshman students have. Although American University has a relatively strict and comprehensive Academic Integrity Code, It is both fair and severe but serves a purpose of assisting students. Students should acknowledge the sanctions come when committing plagiarism merely is a lesson given to avoid this from happening in the future. In order to avoid plagiarism, colleges and universities should keep focusing on creating a strong academic climate that would effectively eliminate plagiarism. In addition, students should educate themselves with finding credible resources and citing them properly. Although stealing a car is a crime, repaint it and pretend that is your car is something worse. Theft is a crime, Plagiarism is too.

Works Cited
Becker, Lawrence C., and Charlotte B. Becker. Encyclopedia of Ethics. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.

Lathrop, Ann, and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-up Call. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. Print.

McCabe, Donald L. "Cheating among college and university students: A North American perspective." International Journal for Educational Integrity 1.1 (2005).

"Avoid Plagiarism." Scholastic News Feb 13 2012: 6. ProQuest. Web. 19 Nov. 2013 .

Jawee Perla, Personal Interview, 13 November 2013

Cited: Becker, Lawrence C., and Charlotte B. Becker. Encyclopedia of Ethics. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print. Lathrop, Ann, and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-up Call. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. Print. McCabe, Donald L. "Cheating among college and university students: A North American perspective." International Journal for Educational Integrity 1.1 (2005). "Avoid Plagiarism." Scholastic News Feb 13 2012: 6. ProQuest. Web. 19 Nov. 2013 . Jawee Perla, Personal Interview, 13 November 2013

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