Academic Integrity and Student Plagiarism: a Question of Education, Not Ethics

CAROL’S SUMMARY: Currently, the fight against plagiarism is approached by two schools of thought: moral and criminal. Both insist on academic integrity, yet both remain rather vague as to the definition of the intangible plagiarism.

Susan D. Bloom suggests that in this information and common-knowledge age, a third school that teaches the skill of proper citation is needed. That having professors teaching when, where, and how to cite will help students avoid plagiarism.

Questions to consider:
1. Do you know when to cite a quote?
2. How do you cite information in your school assignments?
3. What would make citation easier for you?



From the Chronicle of Higher Education, February 23, 2009

Student plagiarism is a problem on many college campuses. The two main approaches that institutions use to prevent it call for treating plagiarism either as morally wrong or as a crime. But neither avenue can be universally successful.

Institutions that approach the problem of plagiarism as a matter of morality often create honor codes. Such codes appeal to the desire of students to do the right thing. The codes assume that, with appropriate social pressure, they will. Students are asked to affirm that they will practice virtuous conduct as members of an academic community.

But while students may subscribe to the principles embodied in the notion of academic integrity, other principles can lead them to plagiarize or accept their classmates’ infractions. For instance, friendship and friendliness — student solidarity — are virtues that often take precedence over adherence to an academic code of honor.

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