ERIC Number: ED421725
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
The Ethics of Plagiarism.
Within the academy the commonly held definition of plagiarism--using another's words, ideas, or stylistic individuality without attribution--is widespread, appearing on most English course syllabi. Judicial guidelines are followed: neither stealing nor ignorance of the law is to be sanctioned. Furthermore, penalties for students can be severe: a plagiarist may be branded guilty of academic misconduct and dismissed from the university. But a closer look reveals that the reaction to plagiarism often depends on the plagiarist's status. Within the classroom plagiarism cases are often handled situationally, after first attempting to determine the moral basis of the action, whether it was prompted by malice or ignorance. But how plagiarism is defined in the work of faculty and administrators became central in two separate instances which occurred in a university English department. One case involved a tenure decision in which the candidate presented myriad examples of uncited work, words, and ideas readily found in the literature dealing with her subject. The second case involved a candidate for a position, who during her presentation to the faculty peppered her talk with private, sensitive data obtained surreptitiously. The final decision was to disassociate with both candidates, but the process was convoluted. A faculty poll a year later revealed that tolerance of plagiarism was less accepted and more stringently disapproved with the increasing status of the violator. For example, 90% of the faculty respondents made no distinction between plagiarism at the undergraduate and professional level; 97% indicated an administrator had no right to use someone else's information without citation. (Faculty questionnaire is attached.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (49th, Chicago, IL, April 1-4, 1998).