Plagiarism is usually brought up the first day of class as
instructors go over the syllabus. As the semester rolls by, and
students are being pulled in many different directions, they may
not always be thinking about plagiarism as they are writing a
paper, which can lead to unintentional plagiarism.
“Sometimes students are not completely aware that what is in
their paper boarders plagiarism,” said Brian Fallon, assistant
director of the CSU Writing Center.
Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas as your own
without giving proper credit, according to the CSU Writing Center
Web site, http://writing.colostate.edu/. The site states that
plagiarism can range from using a phrase without attribution to
improper citations, including sources in the bibliography that are
not used in the paper or turning in someone else’s paper as your
“Plagiarism, the word itself, means the kidnapping of words,”
Jessica Kerrigan, a sophomore sociology major, thinks of copy
and paste as a form of plagiarism. She defined plagiarism with a
single word: “cheating,” and she said she believes that copy and
paste plagiarism is intentional.
Kerrigan said she believes that it is more difficult to
intentionally plagiarize in college, as opposed to high school,
because instructors are stricter about enforcing against
plagiarism. She has not, and does not plan on, taking part in
Fallon said that the Writing Center stresses certain concepts
regarding plagiarism. Fallon tells students that concepts need to
be attributed to the person who came up with the idea, because
plagiarism goes beyond exact copying. He also asks students to
think about their readers, and if the readers would like to do
similar research, they might like to use similar sources.
“If you’re in question, be very careful,” Fallon said. “Give
proper credit where credit is due.”
Unintentional plagiarism can lead to the same consequences as
intentional plagiarism said Anne Hudgens, director of campus life.
She said consequences include a zero for the assignment, a reduced
grade in the class or an F in the class. Students who plagiarize
can also face suspension or expulsion from the university, Hudgens
“I wouldn’t want to get kicked out of college because of a term
paper,” said Joe Benjamin, a sophomore sociology major. “I’ve got
too much to lose.”
When plagiarism is found it is supposed to be reported to the
Office of Conflict Resolutions and Student Conflict, Hudgens said.
She said the office then checks for a history of difficulties in
the area of plagiarism, and they also look at the severity of the
“Unintentional plagiarism can happen when students have a skill
deficit,” Hudgens said. “They don’t fully understand the process
Hudgens said some instructors are stricter than others when it
comes to unintentional plagiarism.
“Some (instructors) have strict expectations that college
students should know how to cite correctly,” Hudgens said. “If
(students) have a deficit, tough.”
Some instructors will remind their students to be careful of
plagiarism. Kerrigan said her sociology of law class received a
friendly reminder to be careful about making proper citations on
Tuesday. Kerrigan said she believes the instructor was addressing
unintentional plagiarism that caught his attention.
Erin Goldin, a college composition instructor, teaches her
classes to be very careful of plagiarism. Goldin believes that
students need to practice writing without plagiarizing at the
undergraduate level, because such a skill is an essential building
block for life. Goldin’s students are taught to attribute fairly
and in context.
“I check bibliographies, not because I think students are
cheating, but to make sure they are representing ideas right,”
Hudgens said more is on the line than a grade or continuance as
a CSU student.
“Some students think cheating is a victimless crime,” Hudgens
said. “They think it is not hurting anybody.”
She said cheating hurts the student’s fellow classmates who did
the work, the institution, faculty members and sometimes the
instructor’s feelings. Cheating can also hurt the reputation of the
university and the instructor of the course.
“Reputation is everything in the academic community,” Hudgens