Originally created 02/22/06

Forum to target plagiarism



The trend toward plagiarism is getting worse, especially from the Internet, with students turning in some papers that have Web addresses still on them, an Augusta State University official said.

"Most of the cases are blatantly obvious they were trying to cheat," said William Dodd, an associate vice president of academic affairs, and instances of plagiarism are on the rise.

That is confirmed by a study by The Center for Academic Integrity. To address the growing problem, the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors is holding a forum today to discuss the issue.

Students do make honest mistakes, but often the cheating is deliberate and obvious, Dr. Dodd said. Some students even leave the gobbledygook from copying and pasting directly from the Internet, and others forget to change the British forms of words.

Those instances of intellectual theft are clear, but others are murkier, an issue to be highlighted at the Influence, Plagiarism and Creative Thinking forum.

"I don't think there is a universal standard for plagiarism," said one of the forum's organizers, James Benedict, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Augusta State University. "I don't think there can be because it varies department to department."

The issue isn't as simple as he once thought.

"Did you know that plagiarism in some fields is not only acceptable, it's complimentary?" Dr. Benedict asked.

In the field of music, "sampling" often seems to be OK, he said.

There haven't been many studies that have followed the issue over time, but research suggests a slight increase in plagiarism, said Don McCabe, the founding president of The Center for Academic Integrity.

"It definitely does appear that it is on the rise in the last decade or so, particularly with the advent of the Internet," Dr. McCabe said, but he added it's not up as much as some may think.

A couple of clicks of the mouse have replaced driving to the library, copying passages out of books and retyping those words into an essay, making it much easier to cheat, he said. Professors are also turning to the Internet in efforts to catch cheaters.

Most professors have used a search engine to track down cheaters, and more and more are using online services, such as Turnitin.com, to catch cheaters, Dr. McCabe said.

Today's forum at ASU will explore the issues associated with plagiarism and give examples in music, media and movies. The free forum is open to the public and will be from 1 to 2:15 p.m. in the Washington Hall cafeteria.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

By The Numbers



Research by The Center for Academic Integrity found the following about plagiarism on college campuses:

70: Percent of students who admitted to some cheating

Almost 25 percent: Students surveyed who admitted to one or more instances of serious cheating on written assignments

Almost 40 percent: Students who admitted to "cut and paste" plagiarism

77: Percent of college students who don't consider plagiarism a serious issue



Source: The Center for Academic Integrity