Problems with Plagiarism

Sep 082003
Authors: Natalie Plowman

Some college students do not think twice about copying and pasting information from the Internet, according to a recent study.

The study, which was organized by Donald McCabe of Rutgers University, stated that 38 percent of undergraduates surveyed admitted to having copied and pasted information from the Internet in the past year, according to the Rutgers Web site.

“I think there’s a growing concern among faculty members,” said Anne Hudgens, executive director of campus life. “The first understanding of why not to do it is a big penalty. It’s really unfair to the other students who put in the work to get the grade.”

Some CSU students feel that plagiarism is an easy act to commit.

“It’s way too easy to do,” said senior Jeremy Scurlock, a technical journalism major.

The Internet contains sources where students can obtain information for essays or papers that students can easily access.

“It seems like a waste of their time,” said Graduate Coordinator Mike Palmquist. He thinks it is almost more of an effort to copy and paste and try to cover it up than to actually write the paper.

“I had a student who did the cut and paste plagiarism a couple of semesters ago, I thought it was a different style. I found it on the Internet, I penalized him for that paper and had him rewrite it,” Palmquist said.

Options for discipline and punishment vary depending upon the type of plagiarism.

“You can be dismissed from the university for plagiarism; that’s the ultimate penalty,” Palmquist said. The student may also have a chance to re-write the assignment or they might fail the course.

Junior Russ Potter, a computer science major, has done copy-and-paste plagiarism before.

“There was a good quote, it fit perfect in the paper, so I just used it,” said Potter, who said he does not feel guilty about what he did.

Associate professor Ward Swinson attempts in his classes to keep plagiarism a rare occurrence.

“I try and keep plagiarism low by making very specific assignments that are closely connected to what has been going on in class. The practice of making assignments that tell the students to go out and write something about Huckleberry Finn simply invites some students to go to the Internet and get a paper on that novel,” stated Swinson in an e-mail interview.

Teachers around the nation have designed sites such as the Internet Paper Mills (, and the Internet Subject Specific Paper Mills (, according to CSU Writing Center Web site. Teachers can use these Web sites to type in a sentence from a student’s paper that they may find suspicious to find out if a case of copy-and-paste plagiarism may have occurred.

Other information that the study revealed was that this year’s percentage was an increase from a survey done two years ago, in which 10 percent of undergraduate students said that they used the Internet for cut and paste plagiarism, according to Rutgers’ Web site.

The university provides a Web site for students further explaining what is considered plagiarism, and what punishments may consist of. For further information,

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