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Academic Integrity at TCTC

A Flip-Guide to Ethical Academic Behavior

Plagiarism persists, despite the inherent risks and sometimes severe consequences associated with it. Many studies have examined student behavior and the impulses that might intentionally or unintentionally result in plagiarism.  While some plagiarism incidents might stem purely from an ethical lapse, most are more nuanced and fraught with a combination of misunderstanding and unfortunate judgment.  Some of the most common culprits and contributors are…

  • Lack of understanding – many students are unsure of what plagiarism really is, what sorts of information require (or don’t require) citation, or what the proper procedure is for citing a source.  Happily, we clarified these issues in the earlier section on Plagiarism & Academic Writing.
  • Lack of confidence – students sometimes discount or undervalue their own ideas, or they misunderstand the power of properly using the ideas of others.  In an effort to “sound smart,” they substitute someone else’s writing for their own, rather than simply citing that work properly, which really is the smart thing to do.
  • Risk v. Reward – some students will make an unfortunate calculation that, despite all the potential jeopardy that might come from plagiarism, the chance of being discovered is small.  The proliferation of software to check for possible plagiarism combined with the in-depth subject knowledge of instructional faculty, however, greatly increases the likelihood of being caught out in an act of plagiarism.
  • Lack of time management and information management skills – sometimes students find that they’ve not given themselves enough time to do an assignment properly.  As the deadline approaches, anxiety and stress take over.  They don’t remember where they’ve gotten certain ideas or evidence or information because they haven’t written down the source.  In their panic, they include the information without citing the source properly and trouble ensues.  Starting early, working steadily, and maintaining a research notebook to capture citations as they arise will all help to minimize the risk of inadvertent or panic-induced plagiarism.