Cyber plagiarism rises among college students

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“Cyber-Plagiarism” is a growing problem on college campuses across the United States. Many school presidents, professors and students attribute the use of technology as a contributing factor, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center.

Cyber-plagiarism is defined as “copying or downloading in part, or in their entirety, articles or research papers found on the Internet or copying ideas found on the Web and not giving proper attribution,” according to the University of Alberta Libraries Terminology page.

“The Internet is very easy to plagiarize from. It is just a cut and paste and your paper has great sounding information,” Kathleen Sanderson, 22-year-old recent Cosumnes River College graduate and Sac State transfer said.

“I give credit where it is due, but if you are reading a lot of pages it’s hard to tell were your ideas start and the pages end,” she said.

Michelle Talley, 37 and currently majoring in business, began college 20 years ago and said it’s a lot easier to plagiarize now, especially with the cut-and-paste feature. However, she also thinks some do it unintentionally.

Her professor recently taught a whole week dedicated to cyber-plagiarism in her business English class where she learned that simply taking another person’s thoughts and ideas and forming them into your own writing is a form of plagiarism.

Her professor also covered the services such as turnitin.com that are used to check for plagiarism.
“I was shocked at how much information was given, how many papers were loaded into the database and how many other resources were available,” said Talley.

Marjorie Duffy, professor and chair of computer information science department, has seen plagiarism issues centering on students sharing files and submitting the same file.

Problems arise regardless of students being in an online class or an on-campus class.

“Often, I think students don’t think it’s a big deal or even wrong,” Duffy said. “They are so busy getting everything done for multiple classes, for their work, for the families they care for etc., that I believe they think if they share a file they’re being helpful. In fact, I consider it cheating if files are shared and I discover it.”

In order to make students aware, CRC has implemented an honor code, which many professors include in their syllabus.

Most schools have “academic integrity” requirements for their students.

Students interviewed about cyber-plagiarism agreed that the Internet has probably made plagiarism easier and they’re sure people do plagiarize, but they wouldn’t do it themselves.

Students said they have also seen others cheat and get caught, or try to cheat and “chicken out.”

“P.C.,” a 19-year-old art major who wished to remain anonymous, remembered a girl in high school with a look of guilt, panic and ran out of the classroom, tripping over a garbage bucket on the way out.

It was later discoved she had planned to cheat and couldn’t go through with it.

Although he hasn’t really seen cheating or plagiarising prevalent in his time spent at CRC, Daniel Newport, a 20-year-old undeclared major, said he believes it is easy to do it, just not so easy to get away with.

“The risk isn’t really worth it to me,” Newport said.

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