Consequences of plagiarism
Intentional and unintentional plagiarism
Avoiding plagiarism |
Taking notes and paraphrasing |
". . . think about who is really
being cheated when someone plagiarizes."
Hurting oneself--and others
The major consequence of plagiarism is that
people who engage in it hurt themselves. Good research and writing involve a host of
skills: for a start, evaluating sources, taking careful notes,
selecting appropriate quotations, paraphrasing, and giving credit to others for
their ideas and words. Students who plagiarize may never learn these
skills, and life in college and beyond can be difficult without them.
Of course people who
engage in plagiarism also hurt others: for one, their
classmates, and for another, the school or university they attend.
At the very least, turning in plagiarized work is unfair to students
who do their own work. It also jeopardizes the integrity of the grading
system. And whether detected or not, plagiarism violates
the implicit contract of the schoolroom: that students and
teachers are working together to help students learn knowledge and
skills that will enable them to fulfill their potential.
undermines the whole notion of academic integrity on which the
academic world is grounded. All knowledge depends on previous
knowledge; as Sir Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further [than
certain other men] it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants" (Bartleby.com).
We want people to be able to evaluate what
we say, and we want to acknowledge our debt to those whose thinking
has helped us. We do so by carefully crediting others for their
ideas and their words.
Penalties at Baylor
have already seen, plagiarism can be unintentional or
quotation at right demonstrates, intentional plagiarism is a
clear-cut matter at Baylor. Teachers turn in any students they
believe have willfully plagiarized. The Honor Council hears each
case, and students found guilty suffer these consequences:
They receive a 0 on the work in question.
They are suspended, most often for two or three days. The
length depends largely on the student's behavior before the Honor
Council; truthfulness and contrition are appropriate when the
evidence is compelling. Ordinarily the student misses a day of school for
the first day of suspension (and receives a 0 on all work that
day). Remaining days are "reverse suspension"; students serve
these during the next vacation.
Students who are convicted of plagiarism also receive
specific final warning and will suffer expulsion if they are
convicted of a further honor offense.
"at Baylor, as at other
academic institutions, intentional plagiarism is an honor offense,
and teachers turn in to the Honor Council any student whose work
they believe to be dishonest."
--The B Book: A Handbook for
Students and Parents
The penalties for unintentional plagiarism are not quite as clear-cut. A teacher may
assign plagiarized work an academic penalty (most often a 0) but not
send the author of that work to the Honor Council if the teacher is
convinced--given the age of the student, the nature of the offense,
and the scope of the offense--that the student did not intend to
plagiarize. For example, if a younger student, in taking notes,
failed to quote a six-word phrase and that phrase ended up in his or
her essay without quotation marks but with the source cited, a teacher
might conclude that the student had been careless rather than
"The honor committee [at the
University of Virginia], made up entirely of students, can expel
current students if they are found guilty [of plagiarism]. It
also could recommend that the students who have already graduated
lose their diplomas."
--"Computer Program Targets 122 Virginia Students for
college and beyond
and universities take plagiarism every bit as seriously as Baylor
does, and they assume that students know, or should know, how to
avoid it. Students may be suspended or expelled from college for
plagiarizing. As the passage at left notes, they may also have
their diplomas revoked after they have graduated.
Accusations of plagiarism in one's professional life can have even
more devastating consequences. People in academic and scientific
communities have lost their jobs and their reputations for copying
the work of others without giving credit to it. Some popular
historians have recently been embroiled in plagiarism controversies and
as a result have lost credibility in many academic communities.