Plagiarism

Scenario 1:

Mandeep, a fourth year international student has to write an English essay worth 15% of his grade due by the end of next week. He is 0.5 credits shy of completing his undergraduate degree at the University. While Mandeep explores his topic of interest, he locates a few journal articles to help him prepare for his paper. Finding it difficult to write his essay as English is not his first language, he decides to incorporate different sections of the journal articles into some of his written work without using citations. He also paraphrases some of the sources used but fails to appropriately cite the information.  Mandeep submits a hard copy of his assignment the following week since the instructor does not require students to submit their essay into turnitin.com.

The Issue:

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence at the University. It is important to acknowledge the scholarly work of others who share valuable knowledge through their research. Students must keep in mind that instructors can easily identify pieces of literature which may not belong to a student, especially if it does not seem to align with written work previously submitted in the course. Instructors can identify their students’ different styles of writing when grading academic work.

Description/Relevant Section of The Code:

Section B.i.1.(d):To represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism 

Range of Consequences

For offences on term work, term tests, or final exams, the sanction(s) recommended may be:

  • A reduction of not less than twice the value of the exam, work or test (e.g. if your assignment is worth 15%, you could potentially lose 30% of your final grade); and/or
  • The dean shall have the power to record any sanction imposed on the student's academic record and transcript for such length of time as he or she considers appropriate. However, the sanctions of suspension or a notation specifying academic misconduct as the reason for a grade of zero for a course shall normally be recorded for a period of five years (herein referred to as an annotation on your academic transcript).

 Smart Strategies:

  • If you are experiencing difficulties writing/reading English, there are many academic resources available such as the Robert Gillespie Academic Skill Centre and Library which provide a range of workshops catered to international students
  • If unsure, ask your instructor for clear examples of what it means to plagiarize and clarify whether you are citing your sources appropriately
  • UTM’s International Centre offers a range of resources for students who are new to Canada, including sessions to practice English speaking skills. You may also contact the International Centre at UTM or organizations around the City for extra support or workshops in the English language. 

 Scenario 2:

 It is your first year in university and your History instructor asks you to write an essay/paper on a specific topic that has been discussed in class.  While researching the topic, you find information in several books but you also find information on the internet.  When writing your essay, you use text/sections from your books and the internet. However, you forget whether the sources you used came from your books or the internet. You also forget which books provided you with certain pieces of information. You are confused and unsure of whether this would be a problem but you decide to proceed since your paper is due in two days. You do your best to use citations while guessing the appropriate book used and relevant page of the information you found. However, you fail to cite what you found on the internet.  You submit the essay for credit in the History course.

The Issue:

You cannot cite information if you are unsure of whether it belongs to a specific source and simply guess page numbers from a book.  It is important to recognize the appropriate author of each source in order to maintain academic integrity and respect the hard work of scholars who have provided you with valuable knowledge. Websites also offer tons of information but it is important to make sure any website used is an academically reliable source and cited in your paper. You cannot present someone else's work as your own in any situation; even if you are unable to locate the name of the author. In this instance, if you fail to cite your sources appropriately, you may be charged under The Code with two academic violations: providing reference to a source which has been concocted and plagiarism.

Description/Relevant Section of Code:

Section B.i.1.(d): To represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism

Section B.i.1.(f): To submit any academic work containing a purported statement of fact or reference to a source which has been concocted

Range of Consequences:

For offences on term work, term tests or final exams, the sanction recommended is;

  • A reduction of not less than twice the value of the exam, work or test; and/or
  • An annotation on your academic transcript.

Smart Strategies:

  • You should speak to the instructor and notify him/her of your uncertainty in citing your sources. It is important to be open and honest with your instructor when submitting an assignment without appropriate citations. If you wait until you are approached by the instructor, your case may be forwarded to the Office of the Dean for resolution.
  • If you are unsure of whether you are committing an act of plagiarism, you should always clarify the material with your instructor prior to submission.
  • You may also visit the academic resources offered at UTM such as the Robert Gillispie Academic Skill Centre or Library.
  • While using different sources of information, it may be helpful to color code each source and immediately document the page number(s) so that you are able to accurately cite your information.
  • Websites can be unreliable so it is important to be aware of which websites are deemed appropriate by your instructor.
  • Always asking for clarification when you are unsure is the best way to prevent yourself from academic dishonesty.

Scenario 3:

You just finished your mid-term exams and realize that you have a Women and Gender Studies paper due in two days. Since you confused the deadline date for next week, you begin to panic and don’t see how it is possible to finish a 20 page paper in a short period of time. There is no research gathered for the paper as you have yet to determine your topic of interest.  Stressed and confused, you are struggling to find alternative means for submitting your paper on time. While attempting to gather research for your paper, you come across an essay service website. You remember other students talking about the website and how “helpful” it is for writing a paper. You find an interesting essay that you think would be appropriate to submit so you purchase the paper online. Without making any significant changes to the document, you simply replace the author's name with yours and hand in your paper on time.

The Issue:

Submitting purchased work is a serious offence at the University. You cannot take ownership of someone else’s work and express their ideas as your own. It is likely that your instructor will recognize a purchased paper if he/she suspects that it is not written in your own words. Often times, students fail to realize that instructors are quite knowledgeable on the subject matter discussed in class. If an instructor suspects that the research is not your own, he/she can easily identify the exact paper online the same way you accessed it.  If the instructor asks you to submit your paper through turnitin.com, you will also be approached with the issue.

Description/Relevant Section of the Code:

Section B.i.1.(d): To represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism

Section B.i.3.(b): To engage in any form of cheating, academic dishonestly or misconduct, fraud or misrepresentation in order to obtain academic credit of other academic advantage of any kind.

Range of Consequences:

According to Appendix “C” of The Code, for submitting purchased work, the sanction recommended shall be expulsion from the University. The minimum sanction shall be suspension from the University for a period of time and zero as the final grade where the offence occurred.

Smart Strategies:

  • Talk to your instructor and inform them of your difficult situation. Life is not perfect, everyone makes mistakes.
  • If you are likely to be penalized for submitting your paper late, it is better to learn from your mistakes and prevent such situations from arising in the future rather than being expelled from the University. Purchasing a paper is absolutely unacceptable and there are serious consequences for such behaviour.
  • Always keep a reminder in your calendar, agenda, cell phone or wherever else is convenient to remind when your papers are due for each of your courses. This will allow you to keep track of your deadline dates.
  • Read The Code of Behavior on Academic Matters; it clearly illustrates what is classified as academic dishonesty so you can prevent yourself from committing an offence.

funny cartoon with student explaining why he didnt plagiarize

Scenario 4: 

Ekwueme's instructor has just informed him that the essay he submitted for credit in his Anthropology course contained many passages taken verbatim from an online source without proper acknowledgement. In the previous term, he had submitted a plagiarised essay in a Biology course, and after his first meeting with the Office of the Dean, he received a zero on his Biology assignment. This new allegation involving his essay in Anthropology will now be considered a second academic offence for Ekwueme and he will be sanctioned accordingly.

The Issue:

As this is second offence of plagiarism, Ekwueme would know that the consequences in committing another offence would be more severe. It is extremely important to give credit to the author of each of your sources. Ekwueme will be sanctioned more severely this time, simply because it is his second offence.

Description/Relevant Section of the Code:

Section B.I.1.(d): To represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any form of academic work.

Range of Consequences: 

According to Appendix”C” in The Code, where a student has previously been convicted under The Code and commits another offence, the recommended sanction shall be suspension for 2 years to expulsion from the University.

Smart Strategies:

  • If you are unsure how to properly cite material in an essay, approach your instructor or a T.A in your course for help.
  • UTM’s Library and the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre can help if you are unsure about citing material or concerned about plagiarism.
  • Colour-coding each source you use and immediately documenting the page number helps you to organize your sources and create an accurate list of references and bibliography.
  • Consult your course syllabus. Many instructors have details on plagiarism and what they expect from you.
  • Read Margaret Proctor’s “How Not to Plagiarize.”