Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New Policy on Plagiarism

Last semester I caught one out of every five of my students plagiarising. So for next semester I have revised my official policy on plagiarism. The paragraph below will appear in the syllabi of all four of my classes.

Policy on Plagiarism and Citations: I have a zero tolerance policy regarding plagiarism. If I catch any student plagiarizing once I will fail them from the course and recommend to the chairman of the ICP department that they be expelled from the program. Plagiarism includes any verbatim copying from a source without using quotation marks or setting the text up as an indented single spaced block quotation. If I find that more than four words in a row in your paper show up in the same order in a Google search and you do not have the words in quotation marks or set up as a block quotation I will fail you. Putting a footnote, endnote or other citation after the copied words without the quotation marks or block quotation form is still plagiarism, you are claiming to have paraphrased verbatim text, and you will still receive an F for the course and be recommended for expulsion from ICP. Taking text from a source without citing it and rearranging the words so that it does not show up in a verbatim Google search is also plagiarism. I will also do Google searches to see if you have taken text and merely rearranged the words. You must either paraphrase the sentence by completely putting it in your own words and cite it with the proper footnote, endnote or in text citation or quote the actual text verbatim complete with the proper citation. Completely paraphrasing sentences in your own words, but neglecting to cite the source of the information is also plagiarism. All information that would not be known to the average person on the street with no university education must be cited. When in doubt always cite a legitimate source. Wikipedia is not a legitimate source. Books published by university presses and academic journal articles found on JSTOR are legitimate sources. Other sources may or may not be legitimate. If you have questions about whether a particular source is legitimate you can ask me. Using Wikipedia or other illegitimate sources will result in a reduction of one letter grade for each citation in a paper.

6 comments:

Susan said...

Is your official policy on plagiarism the norm for most universities?

Kristina said...

I feel your pain about plagiarism and have had to combat it as a writing teacher for over ten years. If only the students knew that I am there to HELP them learn how to write instead of pretending that they know and trying to get a better grade by passing off someone else's words. I just found out at a conference this past weekend that WIKIpedia means "What I Know Is" I thought it was some Hawaiian term. Anyway, I hate it as much as you do and tell my students they HAVE to use our research data bases at our library that their tuition money paid for. I will not accept anything off the Internet!!! Thanks for sharing and hopefully next semester will be plagiarism free for you!

J. Otto Pohl said...

Susan: I do not know what the norm is for most universities. My understanding is that it varies from university to university and from department to department and even from professor to professor. My new policy is stricter than my old policy which was also the general department policy. I do not know if anybody else in the department is adopting a harsher policy. But, I do have the support of my chairman for my new policy.

Kristina: I read in the Washington Post years ago that Wikipedia came from the Hawaiian word Wiki which means quickly. I do not think that next semester will be plagiarism free. But, I hope it has less plagiarism than last semester.

John Angliss said...

"If I find that more than four words in a row in your paper show up in the same order in a Google search and you do not have the words in quotation marks or set up as a block quotation I will fail you."

I imagine that an average entirely original 3,000-word paper would be failed at least 10 times on this criteria.

J. Otto Pohl said...

John: Actually no it would not. I googled just about every sentence that was gramatically correct in the papers I got last semester. In most cases (80%) nothing came up. In the cases where there were matches they were almost always longer than five words, one time it was 26pages, or five word verbatim matches appeared with a single source multiple times. The reason that random matches are quite rare is the use of specific personal and place names. There are just not that many pieces on the internet using the specific proper nouns needed for my papers.

TheNurbs said...

That's harsh, but they had it coming to them, those rascals...

As for the last sentence in your revised syllabus, do you also plan to fail students who cite "Good" or "Featured" Wikipedia Articles (meaning those articles that have undergone a scrutinized editing process and are considered neutral, balanced, and reflect the established consensus on the topic)?

If so, I'd be screwed. Just goes to show you how much of a 'researcher' I am, as if you needed any confirmation.