Plagiarism in the News

Plagiarism….. now there’s a word that has been in the headlines lately! plagiarism2According to an article in Inside Higher Ed this week, a speech delivered at the Republican National Convention “contained both examples of “cloning” (copying passages word for word) and “find-and-replace” plagiarism (copying a passage but changing a few key words).” The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines plagiarism as: “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.” Sounds simple enough but versions of plagiarism happen all too often in higher education.

Many university professors have been weighing in on this controversy and plan to use it as an example in their courses. According to Brian Rose, a professor at Fordham University, “changing a few words is a common tactic for students trying to beat online plagiarism checkers” such as Turnitin. Webster University online courses can utilize the Turnitin software to check for originality in submitted documents.

According to the Webster University Graduate catalog, the university “is committed to high standards of academic conduct and integrity.” Disciplinary actions for academic dishonesty can include a stern verbal conversation, a written warning, or even a failing grade in the course.

Dr. Carolyn Brown, the Webster University Plagiarism Prevention Coordinator has these tips for students:

  • Begin the writing process by stating your ideas; then add to that with research and support.
  • Make sure you use quotation marks and credit the source when you use exact wording—before typing or copying something into your document, insert the quotation marks and citation
  • Paraphrase instead of quoting when possible while still giving credit to the author.
  • Finally, check with your instructor about citation style or other requirements before submitting a project.  These practices will ensure that you are citing properly and maintaining academic integrity.

More information for students about plagiarism prevention can be found on the Plagiarism Prevention website.



Merriam Webster