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Plagiarism warnings carry weight; some get expelled

On February 6, 2018

 

BY TIFFENY GRIPPER and JOAN-MARIE JEFFERSON / VN STAFF WRITERS

Plagiarism – the word appears on every Detroit Mercy syllabus, no matter what class.

The university requires that all syllabi address the topic.

Plagiarism is a part of academic dishonesty. It occurs mostly when someone uses someone else’s work as their own with no credit given to the original author.

Academic dishonesty also covers other forms of cheating.

These terms are nothing new to students as many have heard them since the beginning of high school.

But that doesn’t stop some from still trying to take the easy way out, believing they won’t get caught.

Dr. Victoria Mantzopolous, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education, handles cases of plagiarism and academic dishonesty that are referred by CLAE professors.

The internet has helped her and faculty members do their job in many ways.

One benefit of the school using BlackBoard is that the system works with Safe Assign.

Every time a student turns in a document, Safe Assign runs it through a plagiarism check.

And even if your professor doesn’t use BlackBoard, it doesn’t mean you are in the clear.

Every person has a distinct writing style, and many professors can tell whether or not you plagiarized based on whether the writing sounds like you, Mantzopolous said.

Of course, they can Google your phrases, as well.

Professors who find out that you plagiarized have two options.

They can either deal with it themselves or bring it to the attention of Dr. Mantzopolous.

From a student perspective, you probably want your professor to handle it.

But unless you are willing to be straight forward and admit that you messed up, Mantzopolous will have no sympathy for you.

“If you are willing to take responsibly for your actions, the process will be much easier,” she said.

What is the punishment if you get caught?

It varies depending on various factors.

Sometimes students must retake a course.

Two students in recent years didn’t want to do that so they requested a hearing with the academic board.

The board ultimately dismissed both of them from the program. Neither one got a Detroit Mercy degree.

If it is a first-time offense, you will most likely fail the class, meaning you wasted tuition money and prolonged your stay at the university.

If it happens a second time, it gets put on your permanent academic record, which employers can request.

Mantzopolous said she has seen a lot of students’ futures ruined from trying to avoid doing work.

She said the class that snags more people for plagiarism is speech, because some students wrongly try to use their papers from previous classes as the basis of their speeches.

But you know you can plagiarize yourself.

Sounds crazy, right?

You plagiarize yourself by not using proper citations on your own previous works – or by turning in an assignment completed for one class for a grade in another.

Academic integrity is important not just to the individual student but to the integrity of the educational institution, educators say.

English major Kimberly Bowman agrees.

It “is important because education is something that can never be taken away from you,” she said. “By devaluing education, you would be devaluing yourself and your academic worth.”

The best tips for avoiding plagiarism are to paraphrase material, to cite extensively and to use quotation marks when quoting others’ work.

Paraphrasing simply means putting material into your own words.

Citing includes using proper document formats such as APA and MLA.

Quoting is properly deploying quotations when using another person’s direct words.

When referencing your own work, make sure you cite your information just as you would cite someone else.

Finally, for most papers, include a reference page to show where you got your information.

Sophomore Jasmine Jefferson uses these tools and skills in every paper she types.

It “holds me accountable for what I say in my research,” she said. “It gives me sense of pride that I put in my best effort.”

College students have a lot on their plates every day.

But plagiarism is totally and easily avoidable.

Junior biology major Eryn Hearns feels strongly about this, too.

“The consequences cause way more problems than anyone should have to go through,” said Hearns. “Try your best effort by doing papers correctly and this won’t be a problem.” 

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