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Biology : Plagiarism




This guide is designed as an educational tool for students at Kent State University to learn about plagiarism:

  • What it is
  • How to avoid doing it
  • What happens to students at Kent State when they are accused of plagiarizing
  • Where to get help and advice regarding issues related to plagiarism

It is not the intent of this guide to scare students or to simply inform them of the bad things that will happen if they are accused of academic dishonesty. While students should be aware of the consequences of getting caught plagiarizing, the purpose here is to educate students so that they have a better understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and can avoid doing it.

The workshop is divided into several parts:

  1. Observations: Students are asked questions related to how they feel and perceive plagiarism within their peer group. In a classroom setting, a clicker system (student response system) is often used to compare student responses to reported studies. This guide uses polling to allow students to respond anonymously to questions.
  2. Ethics: To introduce a short discussion on the underlying ethics of plagiarism, students are polled about another related activity (downloading music from the intenet) that allows them to make comparisons between that activity and plagiarism and how students reactions to being accused of plagiarizing are often different than anticipiated.
  3. Policy and Procedure: Kent State's definition for plagiarism is introduced and a description of the policy is presented. Students walk through the process step-by-step so that they have a firm understanding of what happens to students, what the university's (instructor's) responsibiities are, and what rights student's have when accused of plagiarizing.
  4. "Plagiarism School": This concept, adapted by the Stark Campus and ocassionally administered to students accused of plagiarism on the Kent Campus, is presented. Modeled after "Traffic School" it serves to provide a means of mitigating sanctions against students accused or deemed guilty of committing plagiarism, while also providing a way to reeducate and rehabilitate them.
  5. Avoiding Plagiarism: Practical advice is given to students along with a brief discussion on techniques they can employ while conducting research to avoid some of the pitfalls of committing plagiarism. Reference to "Double-dipping" is also made because it is part of the policy and (although technically not plagiarism) the sanctions for doing it are the same as if the student plagiarized.
  6. Case Studies: Several case studies are presented as a means for demonstrating the ways students often commit acts of plagiarism. If used in the classroom, these case studies open the door for discussing plagiarism and how these incidences might be treated according to the policy at Kent State. Students should be made aware that, while based on actual cases involving accusations of plagiarism, they are fictionalized and not a test of knowledge. Instead, polite disagreement is encouraged as a means for wider discourse on the topic.
  7. Honor Pledge: Finally, students are invited to pledge not to commit acts of academic dishonesty (including plagiarism). A pledge is presented to students to read and sign. The pledge is not a contract, not a requirement (students can choose not to sign), and was originated by a student organization at Kent State, not faculty or the university administration.

In addition, a presentation that models this guide is also available (in two versions):

Powerpoint Presentation (uses Microsoft Powerpoint 97-2003)

TurningPoint Presentation (uses the TurningPoint 2008 add-on to Microsoft Powerpoint so that the university's clicker system can be used to collect student responses)

Subject Guide

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Melissa Bauer

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