Plagiarism Prevention Guide:
Reporting a student accused or suspected of plagiarism and filing charges against a student can be a painful, time-consuming experience for faculty but the worst course of action is to turn a blind eye to students who plagiarize. Ignoring plagiarism undermines the value of education, it undermines the College, and it undermines the academic community -- including the faculty member's career. So what should faculty do when they suspect a student of plagiarizing?
The Middle Georgia State University Student Code of Conduct provides policies and procedures for faculty to follow when they suspect plagiarism has occurred.
Faculty who address plagiarism outside of the College’s policies and procedures
Faculty may refer to the Student Code of Conduct or contact the Office of Student Affairs at 478-757-7383 for more information.
It is important to let students know what their rights are when they have been charged with plagiarism. Contact the Office of Student Affairs to get clarification of these rights.
Why faculty may be reluctant to report a student accused or suspected of plagiarism
A study conducted on nine campuses at Rutgers University at Newark found that of 800 professors at 16 institutions, 54% had "seldom" reported cheating, 40% had "never" reported cheating, and only 6% had "often" reported cheating (McCabe found in Schneider, Alison).
Why are the numbers of reported cases of cheating so low?
Some of the reasons why faculty members are often reluctant to file a formal charge against a student include:
- Some perceive the College's judicial process as tedious, time-consuming, and un-supportive of faculty members.
- Often the punishments do not fit the crime. For example, the punishment for plagiarism at some universities may be the same whether the student stole another person's entire paper, handed it in as original work, and committed fraud, or the student misquoted a source, or didn't give proper attribution for either words or ideas. Clearly these are different degrees of academic dishonesty.
- Most faculty members do not want to damage the student's reputation or career and would rather confront the student themselves.
- It can be difficult to prove that plagiarism has occured.
- Some faculty members are concerned that lodging formal charges against a student can reflect negatively on their teaching skills.
- Tracking down a plagiarized paper or the sources used can require hours of research.
- Some faculty members believe that they have very little impact on the judicial process when cases are turned over to administration.
- It can be a traumatic, emotionally draining experience for a professor to charge a student with cheating.
Information on this plagiarism website used and adapted with permission from the University of Alberta Libraries Learning Services.