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Opinion | Definition of plagiarism needs to be transparent, respected

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 23:11

The 2011-12 academic year showed an increase in reported incidents of academic dishonesty, with the majority of incidents coming from the College Chemistry lab, CHM 144 and BUS 101 classes.

The most commonly reported incidents have to do with unauthorized collaboration or plagiarism, where students do more work together on assignments or assessments than they’re allowed.

The Miami Student editorial board feels that plagiarism can be reduced by effort on the behalf of both students and professors. Clarification about what is right and wrong is necessary for improvement to be seen.

While there is nothing wrong with students wanting to make things easier by working in groups, rules and boundaries regarding what is “cheating” and what is not can be confusing at times.

Many students will share information from class or assignments, collaborate on Google documents and study together. This raises the question of whether or not this is all considered cheating by university or individual professors’ standards.

While many professors include an excerpt from the university handbook on Miami’s cheating policies, it may be helpful for a professor to outline his or her rules in class at the beginning of the semester. Different teachers will have different rules and guidelines, so clarification is necessary and important for students to succeed.

Students should also know the university’s policy on cheating and plagiarism, but common sense plays a large role in knowing what is right and what is wrong.

Finding information online, copying and rewording it to make the ideas sound like your own is simply lazy. The risk of plagiarizing or copying someone’s ideas is not worth the associated anxiety, when students could do less work by simply writing the paper on their own.

It is important for us to educate ourselves on various forms of proper citation, to cite sources and to give credit where credit is due. It’s simple: don’t try to steal others’ ideas.

In the end, gray areas need to be defined by professors, and black and white areas need to be respected by students.

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