Plagiarism & Student Cheating

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UW-Madison Information

  • Academic Integrity and Academic Misconduct (UWS 14, the chapter in the UW System Administrative Code regulating academic misconduct), from the Division of Student Life, UW-Madison. Included in UWS 14 is a section defining academic misconduct as an act in which a student:
    • seeks to claim credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation;
    • uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise;
    • forges or falsifies academic documents or records;
    • intentionally impedes or damages the academic work of others;
    • engages in conduct aimed at making false representation of a student's academic performance;
    • assists other students in any of these acts.
  • UW-Madison Writing Center website has a section on "quoting and paraphrasing sources," including "how to avoid plagiarism."
  • "UW-Madison Students, Faculty Struggle with Plagiarism in Internet Era," by Todd Finkelmeyer. The Cap Times Sept. 15, 2010.

How Much Cheating is Going On?

  • An Arizona campus study found 60% said they had cheated on homework and 19% on an exam. Freshmen were least likely to cheat; sorority and fraternity members and foreign students had highest categorical numbers. See "Who Cheats and How," by Allie Grasgreen. Inside Higher Education, March 16, 2012.
  • 93% of high school students in upper middle class communities surveyed reported cheating at least once, according to Molly K. Galloway, "Cheating in Advantaged High Schools: Prevalence, Justifications, and Possibilities for Change," Ethics & Behavior 22, no. 5 (Sept./Oct. 2012): 378-399, reported in "Dishonorable Conduct?" by Allie Grasgreen, Inside Higher Education, Sept. 6, 2012.
  • The Center for Academic Integrity, formerly at Duke University and now at Clemson University and renamed International Center for Academic Integrity has conducted research and surveyed student cheating, often conducted by Donald McCabe, Rutgers University. The Center's site includes a "Model Code of Academic Integrity, by Gary Pavela, sample materials,and more. McCabe's 2012 survey found 34 percent of undergrads and 29 percent of graduate students admitted plariarism from online sources. These figures seem to show a decline from the percentages in earlier years, but McCabe thinks it may be because the students don't consider such behavior cheating, so they don't report it. For discussion, see "You Can't Say That Again: Preventing Plagiarism in a Web Full of Words," by Lynn Rosen, Publishing Executive (Sept.-Oct., 2012): 8-9, 27. For a fuller discussion, see McCabe, Donald, Butterfield Kenneth, and Trevino, Linda K. Cheating in College: Why Students Do It and What Educators Can Do about It (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).
  • Findings from an International Center for Academic Integrity study of high schoolers: 15% said they have submitted a paper from a term paper mill or website; 52% copied a few sentences. 90% of the Internet plagiarizers also plagiarized from written sources.
  • "Cheating is Rampant at Canadian Colleges," by Karen Birchard, Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 13, 2006, reports that "more than half of the undergraduates and 35 percent of the graduate students surveyed admitted to some form of cheating on written course work, such as failing to footnote, turning in someone else's work, or falsifying a bibliography." More information about the study, conducted by Julia Christensen Hughes of the University of Guelph and Donald McCabe of Rutgers University is in a news article by Rachelle Cooper, on the University of Guelph website, which adds the finding "[s]eventy-three per cent of university students reported instances of serious cheating on written work while in high school." The full report is "Academic Misconduct within Higher Education in Canada," Canadian Journal of Higher Education v. 36, no. 2 (2006): 1-21.
  • "Almost 40% of the proposals submitted by graduate students contained notable plagiarism" in the study "Weeds in the Flower Garden: An Exploration of Plagiarism in Graduate Students’ Research Proposals and its Connection to Enculturation, ESL, and Contextual Factors," by Joanna Gilmore, et. al., International Journal for Educational Integrity v. 6, no. (July, 2010).
  • In medical residency applications: retrospective study of 4975 applications at one institution found incidence of 5.2%, using Turnitin software: "Plagiarism in Residency Application Essays," by Scott Segal, et al. Annals of Internal Medicine v. 153, no. 2 (July 20, 2010): 112-120.

Why And How Do Students Cheat

  • "Why Do Students Cheat?" by Eli H. Newberger (2003) discusses the problem with respect to high school students. He says that they cheat because think they can get away with it, they are driven by self and family to get a better grade and get into a better college, they take the easy road, and/or they see others cheat around them and don't want to be disadvantaged.
  • “...students are more likely to cheat when they answer the question “What do I hope to accomplish?” with goals that are performance, ego, or extrinsically focused versus mastery, learning, or intrinsically focused. Second, cheating rates are higher when students have poor expectations of their abilities to accomplish their goals through personal effort ('Can I do this?'). Finally, when students assess that the potential costs incurred from cheating are minimal, they are more apt to engage in dishonest behaviors,” Murdock, Tamera B. and Eric M. Anderman, “Motivational Perspectives on Student Cheating: Current Status and Future Directions,” Educational Psychologist 41, 2006, 121-145.
  • TED: Dan Ariely on Why We Cheat, by Kim Zetter, WIRED Feb. 7, 2009. Experiments by the author of Predictably Irrational show that many people cheat a little. But they don’t when they are reminded of their own moral standards. “When we get people to contemplate on their morality, they reduced their cheating.”
  • Generational shift in self-concept of students, “...from a preoccupation with identity and 'finding yourself' (associated with, say, Catcher in the Rye, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and identity politics from the late 1960s onwards) to a more social self "performed" via the internet and mobile phones, and bringing with it the pressures of 24/7 connectivity. Perhaps for today's students, originality holds less significance than the more pressing imperative of maintaining social networks,” “How Facebook Killed Originality,” by Kim Louise Walden, Times Higher Education Supplement --book review of My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture, by anthropologist Susan D. Blum, Cornell University Press, 2009. Blum herself adapted from her book in "Academic Integrity and Student Plagiarism: a Question of Education, Not Ethics," Chronicle of Higher Education, Feb. 20, 2009. Students may be liberally quoting from popular culture, friends, etc. in their daily lives, but Blum says that the rules of academic citation can be taught “as a constellation of skills, taught largely through the long apprenticeship of higher education.”
  • Perhaps "patchwriting" (paraphrasing) is a necessary stage of learning -- as a "move toward membership in a discourse community, a means of learning unfamiliar language and ideas"(Rebecca Moore Howard, Standing in the Shadows of Giants: Plagiarists, Authors, Collaborators, Ablex, 1999, p.7, as quoted in My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture, by Susan D. Blum, p.26.)
  • White Paper, The Plagiarism Spectrum: Instructor Insights into the 10 Types of Plagiarism, from

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