Copying it

Apr 272004
Authors: Joanna Larez

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, 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,”

Fallon said.

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

intentional plagiarism.

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

for citations.”

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,”

Goldin said.

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


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