Academic Honesty, Plagiarism and Cheating:
A self-instruction unit for level 1 students
Jenny Moon, The Centre for Excellence in Media Practice
Almost certainly you will probably have come across the idea of plagiarism already. Plagiarism is about the presentation of other peoples’ work as if it is your own, for your gain. The ideas around plagiarism are presented to students in many different ways - sometimes plagiarism is seen as a dreadful crime. We want to present it here in the context of an understanding of academic honesty and what is termed ‘academic misconduct’. You need to know about these things because they should guide your manner of working in higher education. Plagiarism and cheating are serious issues in higher education, and plagiarism, in particular, is increasing a great deal at present. We want you to have the knowledge and skills and the good working habits that enable you to make effective and appropriate judgements in your work.
This unit is designed for students near the starting point of higher education studies. It provides the information and skills that you need at present – and you will have more material on this topic at a later stage, when you need to know more about it.
The aim of this unit is to:
help you to get a clear idea of academic honesty and academic misconduct
clarify the meanings of academic misconduct - cheating and plagiarism and collusion
provide you with information that you need in order to be academically honest;
identify and help you to attain the skills that you need for academic honesty and good practice
As well as providing some exercises to help you to learn from this material, this unit is intended to be a resource to which you may wish to return for guidance. The answers to the exercises are at the end of the unit.
Some points to think about
As a student you should learn about academic honesty because it is an important element of higher education behaviour. There are several aspects to it. It involves:
ensuring fairness to those who have produced new knowledge and ideas; ensuring that the work that a person says is her own is indeed her own; the discouragement from cheating to gain unfair personal advantage.
The intention to deceive staff or the institution is central to the activity of the plagiarist or cheat. However, it is not fair on you, as a student, if your fellow colleagues cheat and plagiarise and thereby get better marks.
Sam, Suzanne, Izzy, and Katrine are in a level 1 class at Somouth University. They are all studying psychology and are in a class of over a hundred and eighty students. Their seminar sessions are thirty in number and so far they do not feel known as individuals by staff. Suzanne has been struggling because she, unlike the others, did not study psychology at school. She has been quite depressed about it and has asked the others for help. They did what they could, but she did not seem to be able to take it in. At times she talks about leaving university. They come to the coursework assessment at the end of level 1 and to everyone’s surprise, Suzanne comes out with one of the highest marks in the class. The tutor praises her work at the next seminar as being well constructed, and particularly well written. Suzanne is clearly happy and they all go out for a drink in the evening. Under the influence of a few pints she lets slip that she paid another student in her house (from level 2) to write it. After the time and effort the others have put into helping Suzanne, and doing their own work, the others feel cheated by her action.
The attitude to plagiarism can differ in different cultures, for example sometimes it can be considered to be an honourable act to reproduce the exact words of the expert teacher. In the UK the norm is to expect students to produce their own work. They will, of course, use the work...
References: and Bibliography
Carroll, J (2002)
Carroll, J (2004)
From PowerPoint slides and handouts at session on plagiarism at University of Portsmouth, Nov (2004)
Evans J (2000)
The new plagiarism in higher education: from selection to reflection http://www.warwick.ac.uk /ETS/interactions/vol14no2/evans/html (accessed July 2005)
Franklyn-Stokes, A, Newstead, S (1995)
Undergraduate cheating: who does what and why? Studies in Higher Education, 20 (2) 159 – 72
Harris, R (2001)
The Plagiarism Handbook Los Angeles Pryczak Publishing cited in Carroll, J (2002) A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education, Oxford, OSCLD
Cut and paste plagiarism: preventing, detecting and tracking on line plagiarism http://www.alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/ (accessed July 2005)
Newstead, S, Franklyn-Stokes, A, Armstead, P (1996)
Individual differences in student cheating, J Ed Psych 88 (2) 229 – 241
Moon, J (1998)
Cheating and plagiarism in undergraduate education, UcoSDA Briefing Paper 57, Sheffield, UcoSDA
Swales, J and Freak, C (1994)
Academic Writing for Graduate Students, Ann Arbour, University of Michigan, cited in Carrol, J (2002) A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education, Oxford, OCSLD
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