Academics

Holman Library

As students pursue their education at Green River Community College and elsewhere, they will be exposed to the ideas, theories, and creative works of countless scholars, scientists, and artists. Whether the project is an essay, a solution to a math problem, or a research paper, it becomes important for them to consider how to incorporate the ideas of others and how sources will be identified and cited. This means that academic honesty is foundational to all types of critical commentary, scholarly inquiry, and knowledge production expected by instructors at Green River.

Sixty percent of Green River Community College students transfer to four-year colleges and universities to pursue bachelor degrees in every field imaginable. Some of the important skills that Green River students take with them are the ability to research and cite their sources correctly.

The Academic Honesty Guide for Students defines academic honesty and plagiarism, discusses what students do and don’t need to cite, provides examples of intentional and unintentional plagiarism, offers tips on how to be academically honest in individual and group work, lays out the consequences of academic dishonesty, and provides links to tutorials and learning resources.

Click the section titles below to find useful information on identifying and addressing plagiarism/academic honesty in your classes

Please contact Avis Adams, Walter Lowe, or Jody Segal with your suggestions or other feedback.

What is plagiarism?

1. Academic honesty

In academically honest writing or speaking, students must documents sources of information whenever

  • another person's exact words are quoted.
  • another person's idea, opinion, or theory is used through paraphrase.
  • facts, statistics, or other illustrative materials are borrowed.

In order to complete academically honest work, students will

  • acknowledge all sources according to the method of citation preferred by the instructor.
  • write as much as possible from their own understanding of the materials and in their own voice.

In order to produce academically honest work, students at Green River Community College are able to

  • ask an authority on the subject of the work - such as the instructor who assigned the work.
  • seek help from academic student services such as the library, writing center, math learning center, and/or tutoring center.

2. Definition of plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as using others’ original ideas in one’s written or spoken work without giving proper credit.

Ideas include but are not limited to:

  • Facts
  • Opinions
  • Images
  • Statistics
  • Equations
  • Hypotheses
  • Theories

Plagiarism can occur in two ways: intentional and unintentional.

Ways that intentional plagiarism occurs include but are not limited to:

  • Turning in someone else’s work as one’s own
  • Copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • Failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • Giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • Changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • Copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of one’s work, whether giving credit or not

Unintentional plagiarism may occur when students have tried in good faith to document their academic work but fail to do so accurately and/or thoroughly. Unintentional plagiarism may also occur when a student has not had coursework covering plagiarism and documentation and is therefore unprepared for college academic writing or speaking.

Sample text for your syllabi

Faculty across campus were asked to share text from their syllabi that addresses plagiarism. These examples were distilled into the following sample text. Feel free to copy and paste it straight into your syllabi. In addition, you can supplement it with any of the other information on this site.

Plagiarism occurs when students knowingly submit someone else’s ideas or words as their own. Plagiarism is an act of intentional deception. Not only is this dishonest, but it also denies those students of the most important product of their education – the actual learning. If the instructor suspects that anyone has plagiarized, the student will be invited to a one-on-one conversation and will ask the student to show proof that the work in question is not copied. If found to have committed academic dishonesty, the student will fail that single assignment and may, depending on the seriousness of the offense, fail the course. In any case, the student might fail the class after a second incident of plagiarism.

Some syllabi also included “definition” and “disciplinary action.” See the “What is Plagiarism” and “Responding to Plagiarism” sections of this site for language on these issues.

Varieties of plagiarism and plagiarists

Greek terminology such as pathos, ethos, logos, etc. is often used in the broad scope of the humanities. We could view the classification of major types of plagiarism in a similar taxonomy as follows:

Theo-sauros. (aka T-sauros Rex). This technique involves substituting a variety of words from the original source in order to disguise the original phrasing. The Theo-sauros will do this to make the content appear original and more godly or royal. Thus, phrases such as “common sense” will be changed to “ordinary feeling” or “communal sagacity.” Of course, someone using “basic intelligence” would recognize that changing so many words and phrases will end up distorting the overall coherence of the writing.

Pseudopigios. This technique aims to lend credibility to the writer’s own unsubstantiated beliefs or opinions. (This dates back to the ancient practice of pseudepigrapha when people would try to pass off their personal views as coming from Noah, Abraham, and even Adam and Eve themselves.) The pseudopigio will make up credible sounding sources, usually bogus websites or non-existent online issues of accepted sources like Scientific American, which would not have page numbers for cross referencing.

Downloadios. This technique involves the use of websites that sell or exchange fully written papers on a wide range of topics. The websites have a disclaimer that the paper is for review only, but when students are paying as much as $10 per page, chances are that the “review tool” ends up being the actual paper. Often the Theo-saurus will use this technique as a starting point.

Domestios, Fratios, or Sororios. In this technique, known by several names, the writer will merely put his or her name on works done by a family member or close associate who has taken the same or similar courses. Very few if any changes are made by the writer. A variety of this is the Superidio, where the writers take their own writing done previously and make slight alterations (often not more than changing the date and course name) to submit as new work.

Spectato or Spectreios. Sometimes Anglicized as “ghost writing,” this technique is an offshoot of the previous technique, but done under contract or by request. Sometimes this is disguised as “peer editing” when the writer asks for help with a rough draft, outline, or paper topic and the other person produces the bulk of the final content.

Cuspidios. In this technique, the writer merely expectorates content directly from lecture notes or class discussion, sometimes even from the same class the paper is written for. Usually the original notes are not taken clearly, so the content may be a bit garbled as the writer merely repeats what has been heard as if it were his or her original thinking.

Oblivio. This particular practice often includes one or more of the methods mentioned above without the practitioners recognizing that they are violating standards of academic integrity. Such people often have been doing this as a matter of habit or they are so used to seeing those around them plagiarize that the practices seem “normal” behavior.

Insidios. In this technique, the writer deliberately restructures sentences, reverses the order of list points or details or even cites a small portion of the original source as a means of deliberately presenting the source commentary, insight, and/or conclusions as his/her own original thinking.

Identifying plagiarism in paraphrasing

The following examples are student attempts to paraphrase an excerpt from Mark Clayton’s “A Whole Lot of Cheatin’ Going On.” Versions A and B are examples of “accidental plagiarism,” and version C is done correctly and is not plagiarism.

Original Source Excerpt

Such savvy borrowing may be lost on some educators, but others, like librarians, are catching up. “Students are finding it so easy to use these sources that they will dump them in the middle of the papers without any attribution,” says John Ruszkiewicz, an English professor at Texas. “What they don’t realize is how readily [professors] can tell the material isn’t the student’s and how easy it is for instructors to search this material on the Web” (434).

Student Version A—Plagiarism:

Students borrowing from the Web may be lost on some educators, but some teachers and librarians are catching up. Some students use chunks of other sources right in the middle of their papers without citations. But what these students often don’t realize is how easily professors can tell the material isn’t the student’s and how the instructors can easily search and find this material on the Web too.

This paraphrase is an example of plagiarism because the student uses many of the same phrases as the original passage and the same overall style and structure as the original author with just a few substitution words or phrases (without using any quotation marks and without citations).

Student Version B—Attempted Paraphrase—But Still Plagiarism:

According to Mark Clayton, students borrowing from the Internet may be missed by some teachers, but others are catching it. Students find it easy to use these sources and will put them in their papers without citations or credit. However, they don’t realize that professors can tell the material isn’t the student’s and that it is easy for them to search the web and find this material too.

This paraphrase is an example of “accidental” plagiarism because the student has combined a couple sentences, substituted a few words, but still has used the same overall structure with minor substitutions and has given a nod to the original author with a tagline but still does not have a proper parenthetical citation anywhere in the paraphrase.

Student Version C—Appropriate Paraphrase—Not Plagiarism:

According to Mark Clayton, students borrowing from the Internet may be missed by some teachers, but others are catching it. Students find it easy to use these sources and will put them in their papers without citations or credit. However, they don’t realize that professors can tell the material isn’t the student’s and that it is easy for them to search the web and find this material too.

This student has paraphrased using his or her own words and sentence constructions, and the student has accurately reflected the author’s ideas and cited him correctly both with a tag and a parenthetical citation.

Content in this “Examples of attempted paraphrasing” section is reused with permission from Sims, Marcie. The Write Stuff: Thinking Through Essays. Upper Saddle River : Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.

Preventing plagiarism

As instructors, we expect our students to be creative and imaginative in their work. However, sometimes we fail to model our expectations when we just give the same assignments and final exam questions quarter after quarter, year after year. What can we do about this?

Craft assignments that don’t fit the “generalist” nature of the samples students can recycle, find, and/or buy. For example, instead of assigning an open-ended paper on contemporary applications of Machiavelli’s The Prince, make the assignment linked to other course readings or specific links such as the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight. Students are likely to find many sources discussing Machiavelli’s work in general, and the tendency would be just to copy them in part or whole. However, linking the concepts to other readings or texts would ask for critical thinking on the part of the student.

Emphasize the writing process. Craft the assignments to occur in stages. If students submit topic proposals or must have peer reviews of drafts, they are less likely to merely copy something prior to the deadline. Ask for annotated source lists and/or preliminary bibliographies to be included in topic proposals or in early drafts. Procrastinating students may make hasty source lists, but then they can flesh those out prior to the actual paper due date, reducing the likelihood of plagiarizing the actual paper (although plagiarized portions are still an issue). Ask students periodically to write a reflection of their research and writing processes.

Vary the specifics of assignments. For example, ask students to write about Machiavelli’s views reflected or contradicted in The Dark Knight one quarter and then change the pairing to the 2005 film V for Vendetta or an episode from The Sopranos in subsequent quarters or terms. A student who knows someone who took the class “last quarter” won’t be able to apply specific feedback you have given except in principle. Different assortments of associated readings will also prevent students from checking out copies in some “filing cabinet” compiled from previous years. Vary the patterns from year to year.

Be contemporary. References to Harry Potter books and movies lost relevance after the 90’s, when the Twilight series became fresh and new, only to be replaced by the Hunger Games series. If instructors get stuck in a particular decade, students just recycle old commentaries to please the instructor rather than conducting research or analysis based on academic curiosity and excitement of their own. Try to encourage students to seek application that resonates with their own life. For example, Machiavelli’s “old” ideas won’t seem so out of date after all if connected to the student’s own interests.

Point your students to the resources available to them. If your assignments are research-based, consider taking your class to the library for a session about research skills. If your students are having trouble finding quality source material, ask them to work with a librarian at the reference desk. Remember the Writing Center is a great resource for students at all stages of the writing process.

Detecting plagiarism

Detection method 1: Identify a phrase that seems unlike the students’ narrative/writing style and search the exact string, with quotes around it, in Google. It’s best to select something with unique wording or perhaps a misspelling.

Detection method 2: Search the same string of text in Google Scholar. If you have the Google Scholar preferences set for Green River, you will also be able to search our proprietary databases (such as ProQuest, JSTOR, Academic Search Premier, etc.) through Google Scholar.

Detection method 3: Search the same string of text from within some of the library’s proprietary databases.

Detection method 4: Check commonly available online encyclopedias such as Wikipedia or Britannica Online Encyclopedia.

Detection method 5: Look at commercial term paper services, with names such as www.schoolsucks.com. (Really. That is not made up.) A Google search for the phrase "term paper" (in quotes) yields 2.5 million matches -- for "research paper" 5 million.

Detection method 6: Use a student's source list to replicate the research for the paper by tracing the subject, author(s), title(s) online.

Detection method 7: Use the "homework helper" facility of AOL, Scholastic, pbworks.com, and comparable sites.

Detection method 8: For text that seems like it’s been poorly translated from another language into English, try reverse translating it with Google Translate then running the translated text through Google web search.

Detecting plagiarims section adapted from http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/plagiarism598.html#M.

Why students plagiarize

Students resort to academic dishonesty for many reasons. In a paper entitled "The Front End Load of Student Research," author David Loertscher describes his interesting research on college students’ challenges with the research process. Students give the following examples of what might cause them to plagiarize a research paper:

  • Feeling that nothing new is being said
  • Having to change and refine how to write a research paper from class to class
  • Information overload
  • Too much irrelevant information; cannot locate what is needed from online results
  • They get hung up trying to find the "perfect source"
  • Not knowing what to look for, yet still sifting through articles that might fit
  • Trouble finding books on library shelves
  • Can find the citation online, but cannot find the fulltext article in a database
  • Trouble finding statistical information online
  • Having to buy a source unavailable on campus
  • Conducting research to meet another person’s expectations
  • Too many results from a Google search and having to sort through them

From Loertscher, David V. "the front end load of student research." Teacher Librarian 36.4 (2009): 42-43. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 7 June 2010.

Responding to plagiarism

How faculty handle academic dishonesty in the classroom is highly individual. Some approaches include dealing with the student individually, or including the Division Chair, a Dean, or Student Services.

The student code of conduct gives the following outline of repercussions after a student violates an academic rule:

“(a) A college instructor, after meeting or attempting to meet with the accused student, and upon written notice to the student, may assign to the student a lower or failing grade for an individual project, test or paper or for the entire course;
(b) The student's dean, after consulting with the division or department involved and meeting or attempting to meet with the accused student, may recommend modification of the instructor's action and/or dismissal of the student from the college;
(c) The vice-president for instruction (executive vice-president or designee), after consulting with the dean and meeting or attempting to meet with the accused student, may modify the instructor's action and/or place the student on probation or dismiss the student from the college.
(2) Written notice of any academic discipline under this rule
(a) shall be either delivered personally or mailed by first class mail to the student's last known address, within sixty academic days after the later of the student misconduct or the date the misconduct was discovered or should have been discovered, and
(b) shall advise the student of his/her right to appeal under these rules.” (see Rules of Student Conduct Document)

Reporting plagiarism

The Academic Dishonesty Alert System (ADAS) is a system through which faculty can report plagiarism or academic dishonesty of any kind to the Dean of Student Services. Faculty are not required to do so, but doing so may help the institution see when/if students are being academically dishonest in multiple courses.

Cultural attitudes about plagiarism

Many cultural attitudes are at work in our students’ perceptions of academic honesty. We’ve reviewed many articles on the topic and have chosen the ones below to highlight the vast literature on the subject. Those interested in finding or reading more on the subject can contact the library reference desk at 2091.

Song-Turner, Helen. “Plagiarism: Academic Dishonesty or ‘blind spot’ of Multicultural Education?” Australian University Review 50:2 (2008): ERIC. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.

Abstract One of the issues facing universities operating in a range of market situations and contexts is that of plagiarism. Different universities have taken different approaches in dealing with this issue. In an Australian university context, this issue is of particular concern, given the large numbers of overseas students studying in Australia, and offshore in Australian administered programmes such as in China and India. It is also an issue in a climate where students increasingly see themselves as consumers with increased rights, power, status and legal standing (Onsman, 2008). Students from a number of countries were interviewed for this paper, to identify their own views about plagiarism. The study found that there were several reasons why students tended to plagiarise and these included challenges of language, skill and respect for ‘the foreign expert’. What emerges from this paper is a complex and at times confusing web of perceptions and attitudes towards plagiarism. These pose a significant set of challenges for foreign universities developing and delivering programmes in a range of markets, particularly in locations such as Australia, where the importance and value of attracting, supporting – and, indeed, understanding - foreign students, has tended to underpin many university marketing efforts.

DeVoss, Danielle and Annette Rosati. “It Wasn’t Me, Was It?” Computers and Composition 19 (2002). Web. 20 Feb. 2012. *THIS ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE THROUGH INTERLIBRARY LOAN. You can make ILL requests at http://www.greenriver.edu/library/forms/interlibrary-loan-faculty-staff-request.aspx)

This article does a great job describing some reasons students plagiarize. It addresses complications of the vast amount of information currently accessible by students. It also includes some excellent tips on teaching students how to find, evaluate, and cite source material.