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Cracking Down On Plagiarism

Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 16:08

Plagiarism is a serious issue on most college campuses and administrators are finding it particularly difficult to decide how to deal with it. Plagiarism was easily detected in the past due to the limited number of sources available, but has become increasingly difficult to pinpoint with the availability of a wide variety of sources, including the Internet. Many colleges and universities across the country are turning to more extreme measures for dealing with plagiarism, such as investing in a detection service.

On May 5, 2004, a subcommittee of UConn's Scholastic Standards Committee (SSC) issued a report proposing measures to take against plagiarism. This subcommittee) was founded in 2003 when the issue of plagiarism seemed to become more prevalent. The report included 10 recommendations for how to deal with this growing issue. Among the 10 recommendations was the adoption of a student pledge as part of the student code, in which students would accept accountability for acts of plagiarism and cheating. Along these same lines, students would be expected to "sign off" on each assignment that they handed in to be graded. As part of each exam or assignment, students will be required to sign a statement declaring that they did not plagiarize in completing that assignment.

"Plagiarism is definitely present at UConn," said Michael Marquis, a 3rd-semester biomedical engineering major.

But Marquis was not positive that all this effort would benefit the campus as a whole.

The report also called for a change in the policy for handling academic misconduct, in which rather than having a designated penalty for all cases, the penalties would be n a case-by-case basis.

"It's a complicated issue in terms of students' careers," said Andrew Moiseff, professor of physiology and neurobiology and a member of the SSC. "The difficulty comes in at what point is the idea you're using something that's cited."

Some other ideas the report presented were a redefining of academic misconduct, designation of a certain notation to be placed on the transcripts of violating students, creation of an assessment to ensure understanding of academic integrity, incorporation of informational sessions for all incoming freshman during the week of welcome, education of faculty members on the issue, and the purchase of a plagiarism detection system.

According to the report, the recommended plagiarism detection system was Turn-It-In, an electronic database that would upload student assignments and analyze them.

"It's serious enough that faculty are concerned," Moiseff said. These propositions will not be brought to the administration until next year at the earliest.

"Because it influences so many people, we want to have a public meeting to tell us what the concerns are," Moiseff said. "The hope is to have the meeting sometime late October."

After the meeting, the proposals will be redefined and then brought to the administration, where they will be considered for approval.

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