Academic Honesty, Plagiarism and Cheating: a self-instruction unit for level 3 students Jenny Moon, The Centre for Excellence in Media Practice Bournemouth University

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Academic Honesty, Plagiarism and Cheating:

a self-instruction unit for level 3 students
Jenny Moon, The Centre for Excellence in Media Practice

Bournemouth University


You will have been told about plagiarism at earlier stages in your programme and you may wonder why you are being told about it again. We return to the material for several reasons. Firstly you need to know it in more detail at this stage and in order to make appropriate judgements, you need to understand it at greater depth. Another reason is that at this level, in your better understanding of it, if you do behave in an academically dishonest manner, it will be considered to be a more serious situation than the same event at an earlier stage. It is the case that many think that they know what plagiarism is and when it comes to their writing practices, clearly they do not. Plagiarism occurs at postgraduate levels and occasionally among staff and professionally qualified people.
The aim of this unit is to:

  • help you to get a clear idea of academic honesty and academic misconduct

  • clarify the definitions 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
Academic honesty and academic misconduct are issues for staff and students. For students it is important that they learn academically honest behaviour because that is part of being a graduate. It is not fair on students if their colleagues cheat or plagiarise and thereby gain undeserved higher grades or qualifications. Policing for plagiarism and cheating takes time, effort and money. Avoidance of it for you, as students is a matter of some knowledge, some skills and good habits which become integrated into the way in which you work.
There is evidence that plariarism is on the increase from the web using cut and paste methods and from direct purchase of essays and dissertations - but there is still more plagiarism in the direct copying from printed texts. In research studies, it has usually been the case that students are more aware of the degree of plariarism around them than are staff.
Plagiarism clearly does harm in higher education, in being a form of dishonesty. However also the fear of plagiarism can be very harmful. It is not uncommon for the idea of plagiarism to be introduced as a moral and/or criminal offence and students can be so terrified that the quality of their learning is compromised. It is true that students have been asked to leave courses or have had their degree class downgraded because of their plagiarising activities, but those are students who have been involved in very serious academic misconduct. As we said above, you need some knowledge and a set of skills and good academic habits along with a will to be academically honest and then there should be little problem.
The attitude to plagiarism does differ a little in different countries and this may be an issue for international students. 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 of others within their work and where this occurs the others’ work needs to be cited and when quoted, marked as a quotation. International students may need to adjust to UK norms when studying here.

Sources for plagiarism

There are many ways in which students can be dishonest. If you put ‘essays for sale’ into Google you will find ‘paper mills’ that turn out essays for sale. You pay more for an original essay (not ‘off the shelf’) and more also if you want a particularly good grade, though judgements of the grading of the paper mills is that it is often not worth the grade quoted. If you put ‘essays’ into e-bay, you will also find essays for sale. Some make quite amusing reading. Carroll (2004) cited this example:

Verbatim from e-bay Nov 2004

‘Have you been slacking off all year? Need a dissy fast and can’t be arsed doin it?

Fully completed 6000 word dissy with reference list under the topic ‘Gender differences in anxiety in sport’. Covers all background research on anxiety, very useful!!!!!

The dissertation was given a 2nd Class mark, excellent if you have missed lectures all year and your tutor won’t believe you if you hand in a 1st class paper purchased on the internet!

Genuine mistakes included along with graphs, tables and all the files needed for a complete dissy. All in Microsoft word, just hand it in as it is or modify to suit, you decide’. ULTIMATE LAZY PERSON’S SOLUTION Wish I had bought one instead of actually doin it!’

Some definitions
We have said that the avoidance of plagiarism is a matter of having information and a set of skills. We start by looking at some of the information through a set of definitions which will be further explained below. These definitions include reference to ‘cheating’ as well. These definitions are modified from a number of sources.
Academic misconduct – the abuse of academic conventions; the use of dishonest academic behaviour to one’s own benefit. The term includes examination cheating, plagiarism and collusion
Academic conventions are a set of informal rules or ways of acting that are seen as acceptable within the academic community of higher education. We explain this further below.
Cheating – taking advantage of, or manipulating a situation unfairly for ones own benefit. Cheating is a form of academic misconduct.

Plagiarism - the passing off of another’s work – intentionally or unintentionally - as one’s own for one’s own benefit. Plagiarism is a form of deceit.

We have to say that plagiarism may be unintentional because anyone can always claim that she ‘did not know about plagiarism’. Correspondingly therefore, teachers and institutions have to be clear that they have ensured that students have received appropriate opportunities to comprehend the information on academic misconduct and to have learnt the necessary skills to behave with academic honesty.

Collusion is a form of plagiarism too:
Collusion is the passing off of another’s work as one’s own for one’s own benefit and in order to deceive another. While in the usual definition of plagiarism, the owner of the work does not knowingly allow the use of her work, in a case of collusion, the owner of the work knows of its use and works with the other towards deception of a third party. Collusion is a form of plagiarism.
In order to understand collusion, we need to consider what is meant by co-operation.
Collaboration or cooperation: is openly working with another / others for mutual benefit with no deception of others.
Collaborative or co-operative behaviour is a common and usually welcomed practice in higher education. Research teams rely on it. However, there may be local ‘rules’ or designations of acceptable practice and occasionally vocabulary use with regard to collusion, cooperation and collaboration may vary. It is useful to find out from your tutors just what is expected in your local context.
We add a term here of ‘academic honesty’ in order to be positive about this whole issue. It is better to talk of encouraging people to be academically honest rather than to ‘avoid plagiarism’ when the latter may be unintentional.
Academic honesty is the adoption of habits that meet agreed academic conventions and that thereby avoid the various forms of academic misconduct.
In this self-instuction unit, there is a stress on plagiarism. This is not because plagiarism is necessarily more serious than other forms of academic misconduct, but because it requires a deeper understanding. Data fabrication, a form of cheating, can be extremely serious.

Exercise 1: An exercise in distinguishing honest and dishonest academic behaviour
This exercise is designed to give you a picture of the range of behaviour to which we are referring as academic misconduct . Which of the following behaviours would you say are plagiarism, which are cheating and which are all right in terms of the definitions? Some examples here are not clear-cut and you need further information to make a judgement. The list is modified from Franklyn-Stokes and Newstead (1995) and Newstead et al (1996) and Carroll (2004) and most of these (below) are behaviours actually reported. The answers are at the end of the block of material.

  1. paraphrasing material from another source without acknowledging the author

  2. inventing data

  3. re-submission of work when original work is requested (own and others)

  4. taking material directly from a foreign language textbook and having it translated (directly)

  5. allowing coursework to be copied by another student

  6. fraudulent seeking of extensions, extenuating circumstances etc

  7. library ‘misconduct’ - making it difficult for other students to get required books

  8. working with others on a piece of work, though in the end you write your own version

  9. copying material for coursework from a book/other publication without acknowledging the source

  10. copying another student’s work with his/her knowledge and submitting it as own

  11. quoting from student’s own previous work without a reference to it.

  12. doing another student’s coursework for him / her and submitting it

  13. copying from a neighbour during an examination without the person realising

  14. reading someone else’s work on a topic to ‘get you started’

  15. holding onto / mis-shelving library books so that others cannot get them

  16. making up references or attributions

  17. purchase of academic material from the web for submission as one’s own

  18. purchase of academic material from the web to read or as a guide to subject matter

  19. paraphrasing your previous work

  20. altering data to strengthen a case

  21. gaining prior knowledge of an examination or test

  22. putting an essay together by use of extensive (but cited) quotations

  23. submitting jointly written coursework as individual work

  24. paying someone to write coursework for you (ghost-writing) and submitting it as own

  25. using ideas from an encyclopedia

  26. not contributing fairly to group work that is submitted for the group (to which you belong)

  27. downloading from the web and not citing the origin of the material

  28. lying about medical / other factors to achieve special considerations/leeway

  29. taking unauthorised material into an exam

  30. using verbatim the lecture notes from a previous institution for an essay (no attribution)

  31. using paraphrasing of lecture notes on current course in coursework and not attributing

What reasons do students give for plagiarising?

Firstly, think of and list five excuses that students might make for plagiarising or colluding.
These are excuses that students have often made when admitting plagiarism:

  • ‘I just had too much to do’

  • ‘I could not keep up’

  • ‘Our tutor has not noticed that others have copied chunks from the web. Why can I not get away with it too?’

  • ‘Last years students said that they had the same essay and one offered to show her work to me. I just used it as guidance’

  • ‘I have paid a lot for this course. I have to succeed. It is expected of me’

  • ‘They said lots of things about plagiarism at the beginning of the programme. I don’t really understand how to avoid plagiarism’.

  • ‘I just cannot do this and yet I’ve got to get it in’

  • ‘Everyone else seems to get away with this, why shouldn’t I?’

Although these excuses suggest that teachers / tutors can sometimes be careless in the manner in which they deal with students and their work – in the end it is up to you to make decisions about your own behaviour regardless of what is happening around you. Blaming a teacher when you have plagiarised will not be seen as a worthy excuse.

Information and skills for academic honesty

To act in an academically honest manner, you need to understand what we mean by academic honesty and misconduct and you need a set of skills. Knowing the definitions of plagiarism is not enough now to enable you to make appropriate judgements about how to work with academic material. You need to understand it. We deal first with information that you need, and then with the skills.

The information

Firstly there is some vocabulary to explain: we use the terms attribution, citation, referencing and acknowledgement to imply the acknowledgement that ideas in a text were proposed initially by someone else. Normally there would be an indication in the text that is linked by number or letter to a footnote, and endnote (list of notes at the end of a chapter) – or a name and date that is linked to the reference list.

Those who work in higher education and research can be seen as working in a community – the academic community. This community has a set of rules to which it works - academic conventions. According to these conventions, new ideas are treated like property that someone owns. One reason for this is that there are rewards and awards (grants, prizes, qualifications, degrees etc) given to people for the quality of their ideas. Following from the notion of new ideas as property, we can consider the use of unattributed ideas for the gain of another person, as a form of theft.
However, the way in which knowledge is built up is by combining ideas, integrating them, modifying, and rejecting some, and it is essential that we can use and work with the ideas of others. We can regard the process as ‘borrowing’ the ideas but the academic convention is that we must say where the ideas have come from and show how another person can find them.
To use information and present it as your own without attribution is to plagiarise whether or not the lack of attribution is intended. If others have knowingly helped in the process in order to deceive another, that is collusion.
Not all ideas are considered to belong to others. Most of what we know is ‘common knowledge’. This is knowledge that is in everyday use, or is in the common domain or it is knowledge about which we could say that most people agree. It is the sort of knowledge that is found in reference books - in encyclopedias or dictionaries. We do not need to reference common knowledge though when you used definitions from a reference books, it is still wise to cite them so that others can find them.
We do not need to reference ideas that are genuinely our own either. If the idea is one generated by you, but that you have described in your own work elsewhere, then it is good practice to reference it to the first occasion on which it has been used again so that others can find it for information purposes.
So far we have justified academic honesty mainly on the basis of the ‘ownership’ of new ideas. There is another set of reasoning that you need to understand plagiarism at this stage in your academic development.
You will have discovered that what you need to do in higher education is not just to learn as many facts as you can in order to ‘spew’ them out when tested. You are asked to work with knowledge to create new ideas in research. We have said that you borrow ideas from others and combine those ideas with what you previously knew, reformulate them, apply them to new situations and so on. To do this, you use processes of analysis, synthesis, application, evaluation, critique and so on.
As students your work, that is the outcomes of these processes, is judged by tutors and teachers to ensure that you are learning appropriately and in order to give you feedback on your learning. This is a process of evaluation – and in order to evaluate your work and to give you feedback, tutors need to know the sources from which you are drawing your ideas. For example, if you are developing an argument in an essay, to judge the quality of your work, they need to know the sources of the evidence that you have selected in order to make your case. To do this, they need the reference or the source of your material. This is another reason for the academic conventions about referencing with which you are required to comply.
You may be interested to consider that the work of researchers and academic staff is referenced for the same reasons as yours – firstly they cite references in order to indicate that they have borrowed ideas from others. Secondly the quality of their research work or papers is judged by their peers on the basis, in part, of the quality of the knowledge that has gone into the development of their new ideas.
One sign of the quality of a piece of work is often that there is a good length list of references - in other words, the writer has considered a wide range of ideas in the development of the material. It is a sign of someone with an academic background when she picks up a book or article and goes straight to the reference section to see the basis on which the work has been founded!
There are many places from which you can get further information about academic misconduct and plagiarism. There are many publications and websites (put ‘plagiarism’ into Google). Some of the American websites are particularly useful. If you are unsure about all this, or you are a non-native speaker of English, perhaps from a culture with slightly different attitudes to academic honesty, you may want to check your understanding of this material with your tutor.
A rule by which to work is – be meticulous in your academic honesty and with regard to referencing - if in doubt, cite!

Exercise 2: Thinking that you know about plagiarism does not mean that you can always recognise it
You have now looked at the definitions for academic honesty and misconduct and have read about the justification for citation. It is time to test your understanding. You will find, in the next exercise, that thinking that you know what plagiarism is may not mean that you really know what it is when it comes to the distinctions of right and wrong in your work or the work of another. The following exercise will help you to see how much you know about academic honesty and misconduct. In the exercise, there are examples of cheating, plagiarism and collusion – and there are some examples of honest behaviour. Which is which? You will find some where you cannot really say without further information. You may find it helpful to work with someone else on this exercise so that you can discuss it. The answers are at the end of the block of material. (The exercise is modified from Carroll, 2004)

  • Peter uses the library to find the relevant literature to the essay that he has to write, then, using one of the essay sites, buys a similar essay and integrates into it the material that he has read.

  • Kirsty has a project that involves seeking the opinion of teachers and parents on children’s behavioural responses to violence on television. She can find 5 parents and 2 teachers, but decides to make up the views for the missing 3.

  • Patrick had an essay to prepare. He meticulously read books in the library, but was not sure from which books which ideas had come. He did not reference the material in the essay but put in a bibliography and listed the range of books he thinks he used.

  • Juan and Pablo live in the same house. They are on the same course and hence have to put in the same assignments. Juan’s English is not too good and hence he tends to be slow in getting his work done and this time he is really behind. Pablo suggests that the class is large and they have different tutors so no-one will notice if Juan uses some of his (Pablo’s) material – and he does.

  • Emma was writing up notes on an experiment when she found that her friend, who had done the module last year, had done the same experiment. Her friend suggested that Emma could read through what she had written but she warned Emma not to copy it as that would be collusion. Without her friend knowing, Emma did copy part of it and presented it as her own.

  • Joseph did a Foundation degree and then shifted to a university to do his final year. He has an essay to do in his level 3 studies that matches well a handout that was prepared by one of his level 2 lecturers. He submits that as his essay. What he does not know is that the lecturer had taken over the notes of another lecturer who was off that day and she used the notes and the handout without telling the students that they were not her own.

  • Jeanette has an essay to write in theology. She is not very good at writing and has developed a style whereby she copies down appropriate quotations (correctly citing them) and then paraphrases the content of the quotation in the next paragraph. She then steers the meaning towards another quotation which she quotes and cites and then paraphrases.

  • Ella integrates a chunk of handout material in her essay, altering some words in it and splitting it with a section of her own writing.

  • Simon, Julie and Pete live are following the same module. They have a piece of work to do and get together to discuss it. They talk about the content and decide each to follow up two references and then to meet again to talk about what they have found. This reduces the volume of reading they will have to do. They meet again, listen to each other’s descriptions and write notes and then write the essay separately. They reference the material correctly, whether it is what they have read or what they have heard described.

  • Mohammed is writing his Master’s dissertation. He uses a basic text in which there are many relevant references to the work of others. He would like to go back to original sources, but is short of time. He writes refers to the work of the others directly without indicating that he has only read another’s account of them.

  • Samuel is somewhat disorganised and omitted to cite references for material that he has quoted. It was a mistake.

The skills and good habits that you need for academic honesty
We have looked at the knowledge above. In terms of skills, to work with academic honesty – you need to be able to:

  • use in-text referencing;

  • write an appropriate reference list and understand the difference between this and a bibliography;

  • adopt good habits of record-keeping;

  • work appropriately with quotations;

  • manage the presentation of others’ ideas in written work.

(the list is modified from Carroll, 2002)

The ability to differentiate material that needs attribution from that that does not need attribution;

You need to know and to be able to distinguish between what does and does not require citation – the following do not need to be cited:

  • common knowledge – which we have defined as that in everyday use, in the common domain;

  • facts that are generally agreed, or that are common to a variety of sources;

  • personal ideas, suggestions etc .

The following need to be cited:

  • direct quotations;

  • references to others’ ideas expressed orally or on paper or web-based materials;

  • references to a reference already cited by another in a text;

  • paraphrases, precis and summaries of others’ quotations;

  • paraphrases, precis and summaries of others’ ideas;

  • statistics, figures, charts, tables, pictures graphs etc;

  • references to material within an edited text.

Clearly it requires judgement to decide what does and does not need to be cited – and if in doubt, cite!

Use of in-text referencing

This is a matter of understanding how to cite in text and how to construct a reference list. There are different systems for referencing, and sometimes there are variable interpretations of the system adopted. The Harvard system is a common one. Some systems work with reference lists at the end of the text, some work with footnotes or endnotes that are linked from the text by number/letter. Different disciplines tend to adopt different systems, and academic journals and publishers often differ in the system to which they work. They will usually indicate what they use. Usually in undergraduate studies, you will work to one system that your institution uses but you may need to be more flexible. It is not worth rebelling in this matter – said from the heart! You will probably be told about the system that you are required to adopt for your ‘in-house’ written work and there are usually handouts or booklets that provide illustration of this.

You need to know or be able to find out how to deal with the following:

  • quotations;

  • direct references to written and spoken word;

  • references cited by another person;

  • paraphrases / precis or summaries of ideas;

  • statistics and figurative material;

  • references within edited texts;

  • references to web-based materials, CD-Roms and other resources.

The layout of a reference list and its distinction from a bibliography

A reference list is a list of the references to which you have referred in your text. A bibliography is a reference list, plus any extra material that might provide general or further information about the topic. In academic work, mostly it will be reference lists with which you work. It is useful to become familiar with the use of particular layout techniques for a reference list for your written work. Using the table formatting in Word seems to be helpful. You work with the gridlines present at first and then you can hide them. There are also programmes that help with layout.

Adopt good habits of record-keeping

You need to work out a way of keeping a record of the references of what you have read and what you think you will need to seek and read. This may involve paper/card or electronic records. If you are working with websites, write down on your record, the date on which you accessed the site as this is usually required in the reference list. You will need to work out how to mark the following in your notes so that you do not make a mistake when you refer back to them at a later stage:

  • direct quotations (and remember to note the page number when you note quotations – particularly of book material);

  • paraphrases and summaries of others ideas that require to be referenced;

  • your own ideas and your own comments about another’s text.

It is frustrating to find good ideas written in your notes, and not to be sure whether they are your own comments on what you have been reading, or the ideas of others (said from personal experience). You will need to decide a personal code and use it consistently.

Work appropriately with quotations

Working with quotations involves referencing the quotation correctly and then following the appropriate local conventions about formatting and abbreviating where relevant. In terms of formatting, you may find, for example, that you need to indent quotations that are over four or five lines in length, with the reference in brackets at the right side on the line underneath the quotation. In terms of abbreviation, the method is usually to put a dotted line to link the start of the omission to the text. Sometimes, because of what you have missed out, you need to add a word or two of your own to enable the meaning of the text to be retained. If this is the case, add the words in brackets in the middle of the line of dots. Where you start or finish your use of quotation in text is not at the end of a sentence, put a line of dots. For example:
Juniper says, ‘….it is inappropriate to say that the work is a fake….’ Later he says ‘The work is a poor example….(and that)…it should not have been put on public view’ (Juniper, 2001)

Manage the presentation of others’ ideas in written work

Managing the relating of others’ ideas is a central task in higher education writing. It involves the following:

  • summarising skills where you need to give a general picture of material. You would attribute the summarised material;

  • paraphrasing skills where you need to abbreviate while being specific and precise about the subject matter. In paraphrase you do not directly quote the text. You would attribute the paraphrased material;p

  • precis skills where you need abbreviated information that is very close to the meaning of the text and where you do quote directly. The quotations, even of single technical words will be in quotation marks – and, like the others, you would attribute, particularly where you have directly quoted;

  • the ability to relate one idea to another (assembling ideas as evidence, comparing and so on);

  • appropriate referencing (see above).

You do not need to be able to define or even know the words for summarising, paraphrasing and precis, you just need to be able to use the techniques when required, and cite appropriately. Usually there will be a purpose behind the processes that you adopt – for example, needing to abbreviate or needing to give an account of someone’s thinking in order to make a point. The way in which you summarise etc will be guided by your purpose..

We give some examples of summarising, paraphrasing and precis – all of which give the gist of the idea of the text below, in abbreviated manner.
Example of a piece of writing on learning journals

Learning journals come in many different shapes, sizes, formats and forms and there are many different purposes for using them. Some alternative names for a journal are learning log, diary, notebook, course journal and a more creative term such as ‘thinkplace’. ‘Portfolio’ is a word that may sometimes be applicable as well (see below). Journals may be graphic, on audio-tape or video and are often now in electronic form (Moon, 1999).

Generally speaking the features that would distinguish a learning journal from other writing are that it will be written over a period of time and that it is generally reflective (Moon, 1999, 2004). A learning journal will tend to focus on ongoing issues and there will be some intention to learn from either the process or from the results of it. This excludes event diaries or a record or log in the ship log sense. It also excludes the kinds of portfolio that are simply collections of pieces of work with no reflective commentary.
Learning journals are usually seen as a vehicle for reflection (English and Gillen, 2001). It seems reasonable to assume that all adults and older children reflect, but some more overtly than others. Some reflect easily and will be familiar with keeping a journal (or diary). Some will overtly reflect only when there is an incentive or when guidance or conditions in their environment are conducive to it. Some will say that they do not reflect at all, and those setting up learning journal activities will need to recognise the difficulties here and take measures to help them. Since it seems likely that reflection is an inherent part of good quality learning (Moon, 2004), it is not unreasonable to assume that all reflect, but they may find reflective writing unfamiliar.
Journal writing can be of use at most stages of education (from five or six years up), across any discipline (Fulwiler, 1987) or form of education and can benefit any situation in which a person is trying to learn something, particularly where it relates to their development as a person. This is why learning journals are so pertinent to adult education (English and Gillen, 2001).
Of key importance in the use of journal activities, is the clear and explicit understanding of the purpose for which a journal is being used. Too often, journals activities are set up because ‘it seems to be a good idea’ or as an innovative’ initiative.

Abstracted from Minky, J (2005) Learning journals in P. Doodles Enhancing Learning, Pneutown, Comet-Prine.


Minky’s piece on learning journals discusses the nature and form of journals, and how they can be in different forms (e.g. electronic). It goes on to discuss the distinctive features of journals in comparison with other forms of recording such as diaries or collections of work. Journals are seen as essentially reflective – a capacity that is common to everyone from the age of five and upwards. It is of significance to the teacher that some people have difficulty in reflective writing and would need help in this in order to use learning journals to improve their learning. The piece indicates the importance of being clear about the purpose for a journal (abstracted from Minky, 2005).

Paraphrase (quite abbreviated)

Minky says that there are many forms and formats of learning journals, different purposes for using them and different names for them (e.g. log, diary etc). They may be in other than written format (e.g. audio-tape). Learning journals differ from other texts in being:

  • reflective – not the logging of events;

  • ongoing – not collections of material;

  • and used as a basis for learning.

It seems that most people can reflect – but that some have difficulties in reflective writing and may need more guidance than others. This can be an issue in teaching and is important if reflection is important for learning. Journals can be used from early stages in any form of education. Knowing and being explicit about the purpose for which the journal is to be used is particularly important (Minky, 2005)

Precis (a precis is abbreviated anyway)

Minky suggests that learning journals come in different ‘shapes, sizes, formats and forms’ with different purposes. Some names are ‘learning log, diary, notebook, course journal’, sometimes portfolios and more creative terms.(eg ‘thinkplace’). They can be electronic or in other forms. They are ongoing, ‘generally reflective’ and there is likely to be an ‘intention to learn’ from them. Reflection seems to be ‘part of good quality learning’. While most can reflect some may have difficulties in reflective writing – and need guidance in journal writing. Minky says that of ‘key importance’ is the ‘explicit understanding’ of the purpose for which journals are set.

Learning journals ‘can be used at most stages of education’, and in many different situations (Minky, 2005).

Comment: These examples are only illustrations of forms of writing. There is no right way of writing these forms but there is ‘useful and less useful’ in relation to the purpose for which you are engaging in the activity. There may be little difference between summary and paraphrase – though in the latter, the purpose for which the paraphrase is being made is more of a guiding influence. In addition paraphrasing may be much the same length as the original if the purpose for paraphrasing is in order to covey the essence of the original into another text without plagiarising. The precis may differ little from a paraphrase though it can contain direct quotation and it will be abbreviated. So long as you are careful to note where you are quoting directly – even one or two words, precis is probably the most useful way in which to take notes where you need to shorten the material and then use it in further writing.

Another aspect of the management of the introduction of others’ ideas into text is the way in which you indicate the ideas of another. Here are some examples of the way in which the ideas of Emma Calstock’s theoretical (but fictional!) stance on the introduction of siestas into the British working day (in Calstock, 2005) might be introduced. The choice of which method you choose needs to relate to the purpose for introducing the point. For example, the fourth example ‘As Calstock…’ would probably be used to reinforce an argument that you are making. The use of quotation may serve to emphasise a point:

Calstock (2005) suggests that siestas should be introduced into the working day.
Some have suggested that the productivity of workers will benefit from a break in the middle of the day (eg Calstock, 2005).
A break in the middle of the day has been said to benefit the productivity of workers (Calstock, 2005).
As Calstock (2005) has said, a break in the middle of the day can benefit the productivity of workers.
We see as significant the research of Calstock that indicates that workers benefit from a break in the middle of the day (Calstock, 2005).
Calstock (2005) says ‘A break in the middle of the day benefits the productivity of workers’.
‘A break in the middle of the day benefits workers’ (Calstock, 2005).

Exercise 3: Are you really clear where the fine line is between plagiarism and appropriate writing?

Where do you draw the line? Where is the ‘fine line’ between behaviour that is all right and that which is not all right? The exercise is modified from Carroll (2004) who cites Swales and Freak (1994). Several of the senarios are not all right, but those below them are all right – where is the line? The answer is given at the end of the unit.

  1. Copying a paragraph. No acknowledgement given

  2. Making small changes in a copied paragraph. No acknowledgement given

  3. Making small changes in a copied paragraph. Source is listed in reference list but not in the text.

  4. Composing a paragraph without quotation marks that mixes phrases from the original document with student’s added words or paraphrasing. Acknowledgement in text and in the reference list.

  5. Referring to a piece of work that is discussed in another text. There is in-text acknowledgement and the text is listed in the references, but not the original piece of work.

  6. Writing a paragraph that is based broadly on material in a text. You cite the in-text reference and list the work in the reference list.

  7. Quoting word for word, a paragraph in block format with quotation marks. It is cited within the text and in the reference list.

The detection of plagiarism

There are a few things that you should know about the methods of detection of plagiarism that are used in higher education. Some of these go beyond the good memories or observational abilities of tutors. The following electronic methods are available, though not all higher education institutions have all of the systems. They may be used when there is a suspicion of plagiarism in a piece of coursework, or they may be used on random occasions, or as a routine.

Advanced search on Google
Generation of data on the process details of a document – who authored it, when, when it was modified etc.
Use of a nationally available service that detects similar text in the public spaces of the internet to that in a student text. This method, of course, will also detect quotations that the student has attributed correctly, so further judgement is required as to whether there is plagiarism or not.
Software that indicates where collusion may have taken place in a set of similar documents or essays.

Exercise 4 A general exercise on academic honesty, plagiarism and cheating

1. This reference appears in a reference list in the Harvard form. What is missing from it?
Manders, (2004), On the eating habits of the man in the Moon, Journal of Nonsense 15 (2), pp12 - 15

2. What is wrong with the following in a text on higher education learning?

It has been said that the use of a learning journal improves the overall quality of learning in a particular subject area. The adoption of learning journals in a broad range of disciplines has increased greatly in the past few years…..
3. What is wrong with this Harvard style reference?

Gumsunk, N (2005) The Sociology of Angels, Hardcore and Rubble

4. The following text is defective – why?
The existence of royalty in Juman has been a contentious matter for several centuries. Opposition has always been expressed by about half of the population in the form of demonstrations in the streets on occasions when members of the royal family have appeared. Sanpan has described this rebellion as mildly disruptive rumblings (Sanpan, 1999).
5. What is going on here?
Immediately after the lecture, Marianne goes to the library and gets out the text that has been mentioned by the lecturer. It is very useful to her. Marianne’s friend asks Marianne if she can borrow the book and Marianne says that he can borrow it once she has put it back into the library – but she says that it would probably be a waste of his time because there is hardly anything of value to him in the text.
6. What is probably wrong with this text?
Lammings (2001) says that we have reached the age of micromania. He justifies the development of this new term by reference to his work on the biology of micro-organisms in the body cavities of the gerrandificacae species.

7. Nigel and Julia are students at Dugarden University. They are on the same course. They are set the same title of essay and decide to work together on it. They discuss the ways in which they could work together. Where is the line drawn between the following that denotes what is probably acceptable and unacceptable behaviour?

  1. They use the same references, discuss the material and the structure of the essay but write it separately.

  2. They do separate reading and share the outcome of their reading, and then plan and write their essays separately.

  3. They do separate reading and share it then plan and write their essay together.

8. English is a second language for Kimi. She feels that she needs help with her dissertation, and feels daunted by her supervisor at the university. She phones home and asks for help from her cousin who finished similar degree a couple of years ago. He is fond of Kimi and knows that she needs support or she will fail. He finds material for her from the web and from other sources, translates it where necessary, to make it directly usable for Kimi. He puts in some references. Kimi uses the text directly in her dissertation without asking any questions or citing her cousin.

Where are the responsibilities in this situation?
9. What are four excuses that students might make for plagiarising?
10. What is wrong with this reference? Petal, M (2000) http://www.howtowrite.spu.ilk.agr

References and Bibliography

Carroll, J (2002)

A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development

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 /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

Hinchcliffe (1998)

Cut and paste plagiarism: preventing, detecting and tracking on line plagiarism 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

Acknowledgement: In order to put this together, I drew particularly on the work of Jude Carroll of Oxford Brookes University – both her workshop notes (2004) and her book: A Handbook on Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education Jude Carroll, Oxford, OCSLD (2002).

Answers to Exercises
Exercise 1
1. plagiarism

2. cheating

3. cheating / plagiarism

4. plagiarism

5. plagiarism / collusion

6. cheating

7. cheating

8. OK

9. plagiarism

10. collusion

11. could be plagiarism – probably OK

12. cheating. The student submitting work has plagiarised

13. cheating

14. might be plagiarism if actually copied but not referenced – but OK so far

15. cheating

16. presumably the original reference is unknown – hence plagiarism

17. plagiarism

18. may be OK - it depends whether it is submitted and referenced

19. OK – may be wise to refer to previous work in a reference

20. cheating

21. cheating

22. may not be OK in style, but is OK

23. probably collusion - depends on the rules given

24. plagiarism

25. may be plagiarism or may be use of common knowledge (see below) – better to cite source

26. cheating

27. plagiarism

28. cheating

29. cheating

30. plagiarism

31. there is mixed practice here. It is safer to cite, but discussion with lecturers about policy would be sensible too

Exercise 2

Peter is probably plagiarising but not if he cites the material he has bought and not if uses it in a very general manner

Kirsty is cheating
Presumably Patrick could not attribute ideas in the text to the author and on this basis he was plagiarising. In a level 1 class he might have ‘got away with it’
Juan and Pablo are colluding
Emma was plagiarising. Since her friend advised her not to copy the text, she was not really colluding – though she is on shaky ground….
If Joseph did not cite the lecturer, he was technically plagiarising. The lecturer might technically have been plagiarising too if she did not say that she had used the notes of the other lecturer.
Jeanette should not be getting good marks, but she is not behaving dishonestly
Ella is technically plagiarising
Simon, Julie and Pete are co-operating
Technically Mohammed is plagiarising
Technically Samuel is plagiarising

Exercise 3
The ‘fine line’ comes between points 5 and 6

Exercise 4

  1. Manders’ initial

  2. There is no reference and yet clearly this is someone’s idea being reported

  3. There is no location for the publisher

  4. …. ‘Mildly disruptive rumblings’ is probably a direct quotation and needs quotation marks – and possibly a page number.

  5. Marianne is behaving in academically dishonest manner – a form of cheating

  6. ‘The age of micromania’ is probably a set of words coined by the writer and therefore needs quotation marks

  7. ‘c’ is unacceptable. The other scenarios may or may not be acceptable on the basis of local practice. The sharing out of reading and communication of what you have found can often be seen as good cooperation or teamwork. It is how research teams function.
  8. There is a problem with the supervisor not being approachable and possibly in not recognising Kimi’s need for support; there is a problem with the cousin who should have known better, having presumably been taught about plagiarism, and Kimi should not have used the material directly. Kimi and her cousin are colluding and plagiarising too.

  9. Too little time to get the work done; too many pieces of work to get in at the same time; the student knows that others have ‘got away with it’; the lecturer does not seem to care; someone else’s words ‘say what I want to say better than I could say it’; ‘I did not know where to start and someone helped me / I bought an essay from the web to give me an idea of how to do it; pressure for success – the course has cost a great deal of money; pressure for success – the family expects it of me’ and so on.

  10. There is no provision of the date on which the material was last accessed.

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