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Many faculty members are worried about plagiarism--and justifiably so. In today's world of networked information and cutting-edge technology, plagiarism is easier and more common than ever before. But the more you know about plagiarism, the more easily you can prevent, detect, and (if necessary) report it. We hope this page helps you better understand this important problem.
If you have questions or comments about this document, please stop by the library, call 407-903-8100, or email the library at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, this document is for informational purposes only and does not purport to be exhaustive or authoritative. Questions that we cannot answer will be referred to the UCF Office of Student Conduct, the official office for such matters.
Webster's Third New International Dictionary (2002) defines the word plagiarize as follows:
Clearly, there are many different types of plagiarism, many of which might not rise to the level of "literary theft." Nonetheless, instances of plagiarism, no matter how small or unintentional, can undermine the mission of the academy, negatively impact student learning, and tarnish the reputation of students or faculty members.
Moreover, some research suggests that plagiarism, especially "cut & paste" plagiarism (using one or more sentences from Internet sites in a paper without attribution), among college students is alarmingly common and on the rise.
In a 1997 study by St. Johns University professor Miguel Roig, 36% of undergraduates admitted to having plagiarized written material at least once (Roig). Two years later, a survey conducted by the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University found that "of 2,100 students on 21 campuses across the country, about one-third of the participating students admitted to serious test cheating and half admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on written assignments" (Clemson). In a 2001 survey by the same group, 41% of students admitted to engaging in "cut & paste" plagiarism and 68% did not think it was a "serious issue" (Clemson). Finally, of college students who took the 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement, 87% reported that their peers engaged in "cut & paste" plagiarism "at least some of the time" (Sterngold). (Of course, it is not known whether this last percentage is so high because students overestimate the extent of the problem among their peers or because students are more likely to be honest when asked about their peers' habits rather than their own habits. Clearly, however, "cut & paste" plagiarism remains a problem.)
The statistics presented above are grim. But it is important to understand the reasons behind student plagiarism, especially since both research and anecdotal evidence suggests that most students plagiarize unintentionally.
Common reasons for plagiarism among students include:
The good news is that there are many ways to prevent both intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Some of the most effective measures include:
Detecting possible instances of plagiarism is often not especially difficult or time-consuming if you concentrate mostly on papers that have one or more of the following suspicious qualities:
When qualities such as those above are present, you can try one or more of the following detection strategies:
This cannot be stressed enough: If you believe a student has engaged in dishonest conduct, including but not limited to plagiarism, you should consult the UCF Office of Student Conduct. Their website provides informational flyers, links to relevant sections of the student handbook, contact information for staff, incident report forms, and much more. In addition to handling formal allegations of wrongdoing, the Office of Student Conduct may be able to assist with informal or less binding types of action (for instance, you can submit an incident report form for "information purposes" only OR to "initiate the Student Conduct Review process").
Sources used in writing the foregoing sections include:
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Last updated August 15, 2013 4:17:39 PM