Our view: Knowing plagiarism can prevent it

“Students enrolled in the university, at all its campuses, are to perform their academic work according to standards set by faculty members, departments, schools and colleges of the university; and cheating and plagiarism constitute fraudulent misrepresentation for which no credit can be given and for which appropriate sanctions are warranted and will be applied.”

If we didn’t tell you where the above passage was from, would you know? Maybe it’s our own writing.

But it’s not, and if we hadn’t included quotation marks and didn’t now tell you that it comes from the Kent State Administrative Policy Regarding Student Cheating and Plagiarism, we’d be guilty of the act ourselves.

Our course syllabi contain a short blurb about the policy, but it’s typically breezed through by the professor on the first day of class and largely forgotten. We hope that college students are responsible enough that they don’t need to be reminded that plagiarism is a very serious offense – so serious in fact that degrees can and have been taken away.

We’re concerned, however, that students may not fully realize exactly what constitutes plagiarism.

In the era of copy and past and drag and drop, it’s easy to take ideas from others with minimal work. It’s quick and it’s easy, but without proper sourcing, it’s against the rules.

Something a little less obvious: Turning in the same paper to multiple professors without the knowledge and consent of both is plagiarism. It doesn’t matter if the work is all original thought or if it’s properly sourced.

If you’re unsure on the ins and outs of plagiarism, there are plenty of online resources available. The University Library has a whole Web page full of such links, aimed both at faculty and students.

Why jeopardize your entire academic career over one research paper?

The real world too, won’t stand for it. In our chosen profession, plagiarism will likely get you fired. Immediately.

Our university actually played a role in a fairly recent and high profile case of fabrication and plagiarism in the media. Jayson Blair, a New York Times reporter, was discovered to have fabricated or plagiarized passages in several stories. One story involved a bit about attendance at Kent State football games. In a May 11, 2003 correction, the Times said Kent State associate athletic director Pete Mahoney denied making quotations attributed to him. The article also had not attributed quotations from other newspapers.

Blair no longer works for the New York Times.

It’s just too important of an issue to ignore. As such, we are encouraged by our Faculty Senate including plagiarism as topic of discussion at this week’s meeting. They say policies need to be reviewed and need to be clearer, in part to help ensure due process for those accused of plagiarism. That sounds like a good start. It also wouldn’t hurt for the university to familiarize students more with what is and isn’t plagiarism.

An attribution and a couple quotation marks can save your grade and maybe your degree.

The following editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.