Policies and Practices
The First-Year Writing Program, the Intellectual Heritage Program and the Writing Center are working together to address the problem of academic honesty among our students. Our goal is to build a clear and unified approach that will facilitate student understanding of the need for accurate use of sources. This approach is based on the foundational policy statement on academic integrity at Temple passed by the Academic Senate on April 19, 1989.
This document contains four parts: the College of Liberal Artsí statement on Plagiarism and Academic Cheating, advice to faculty on making plagiarism more difficult, tips for detecting when academic dishonesty may be occurring, procedures for addressing students accused of plagiarism, and an explanation of the role of the Writing Center tutors in working with students on their writing.
Dennis Lebofsky, First-Year Writing
Gary Pratt, Intellectual Heritage
Lyn Tribble, Department of English
Daniel P. Tompkins, Intellectual Heritage
Lori Salem, Tuttleman Writing Center
July 9, 2002
PLAGIARISM AND ACADEMIC CHEATING
Lyn Tribble, Department of English
Temple University believes strongly in academic honesty and integrity. Plagiarism and academic cheating are, therefore, prohibited. The development of independent thought and a respect for the thoughts of others is essential to intellectual growth. The prohibition against plagiarism and cheating is intended to foster this independence and respect.
Plagiarism is a form of theft. It is the unacknowledged use of another personís labor, ideas, words, and assistance. Unless otherwise specified, all work done for courses ó papers, examinations, homework exercises, reports, oral presentations ó is expected to be the individual effort of the student presenting the work. If the work has entailed consulting other resources?journals, books, or other media?these resources must be cited in a manner appropriate to the course. It is the instructorís responsibility to indicate the appropriate manner of citation. Everything used from other sources?suggestions for organization of ideas, ideas themselves, or actual language?must be cited. Failure to cite borrowed material constitutes plagiarism. Undocumented use of materials from the World Wide Web is plagiarism.
Academic cheating is, generally, the thwarting or breaking of the general rules of academic work or the specific rules of the individual courses. It includes falsifying data; submitting, without the instructorís approval, work in one course which was done for another; helping others to plagiarize or cheat from oneís own or anotherís work; or actually doing the work of another person.
Depending on the gravity of the offense, the penalty for plagiarism or academic dishonesty can range from failure on the individual assignment to failure in the course to referral to the University Disciplinary Committee. For a complete discussion of Templeís administration of these, see the Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures:
Gary Pratt, Intellectual Heritage
Faculty can help to deter the problem of plagiarism by educating students about what plagiarism is, as well as informing students of the consequences. Further, creating assignments that make plagiarism either less likely or easier to detect can help to address the problem.
The first step is in preparing students. Instructors should conduct a thorough discussion and explanation of the policy on plagiarism: what it is, why it is in place, what the penalties are. In doing so, faculty should provide specific and realistic examples of what constitutes plagiarism (inappropriate citation or paraphrase). It is necessary for our students to know exactly how and when to incorporate sources. Methods of citation will vary by discipline, but specifying a method for the individual course should help students to realize the significance of proper citations as well as provide them with experience using these tools. Examples from both printed texts and electronic sources can be modeled for students and should be examples that are relevant to the course curriculum and not simply generic examples. Ideally, the discussion of plagiarism should not happen once, but recur throughout the semester as assignments increasingly challenge students.
How faculty construct assignments can also serve as an important deterrent to plagiarism. This may entail composing unique or perhaps even idiosyncratic writing assignments. Assignments should be specific rather than general and should avoid broad comparisons. Ready-made topics produce ready-made papers--repeated, imitated, widely accessible for students to proclaim as their own. By developing writing assignments that draw on the course goals, perhaps even tying the writing projects to class discussions, instructors will make writing integral to the methods of the class and encourage students to feel more competent in pursuing the written work. In any case, assignments that are unique to the course will help signal to instructors student work that may be downloaded from the Internet or bought from a paper mill. Instructors can also use assignments that involve a series of steps so that student work is monitored. This could mean collecting thesis statements, proposals, outlines, or drafts as students work on papers. Faculty should also consider using some sort of in-class or impromptu writing as part of a longer take-home paper or general course requirements. Giving students instructions in how to complete the assignment (stipulating stages and emphasizing the writing process) may help students avoid the panic or desperation that sometimes leads to academic dishonesty. Changing or rotating paper topics and take-home exam questions reduces the chances of a paper being resubmitted.
Advising students should be a part of the process of preventing academic
dishonesty. Encourage students to discuss the assignments with instructors.
Be sure to clarify the role and purpose of collaborative work in the class.
Encourage students to use the institutional resources that are there to
help them (the Writing Center and other tutors), but explain what the role
of a tutor should be in the writing process.
Dennis Lebofsky, Director, First-Year Writing Program, and Lyn Tribble,
Department of English
A possible plagiarist is the student who has struggled all semester and then suddenly submits a quite sophisticated essay. Sometimes, of course, the plagiaristís source is another student, in which case the writing conceivably could have been done by your student. In either case, look for these indications of potential plagiarism:
In cases of incredibly sophisticated writing, compare other work the student has done for you which is considerably less accomplished?work done at home or in class. Has the studentís previous work shown such quality of thought? such breadth? such vision? such a command of abstract concepts and language? such an extensive vocabulary? such a command of writing conventions and mechanics? such control of syntax? comparable references and allusions?
A strategy to consider is to get the student to converse with you face-to-face
about her paper: what "prima facie evidence" is; what "panegyrics
to liberty" are; what it means for a group to be "marginalized"; what exactly
she means by "an ideology that is the regnant orthodoxy of our universities
loco parentis"; what X (Emerson? Erasmus? Kant?) , invoked in her paper
but not discussed in class or in the assigned readings, had to say about
Y (social justice, gender roles, prerogatives of the state, or whatever);
her sudden adroit command of transitions, appositives, infinitives as subjects
of clauses, participial phrases, and/or parallel constructions; the rules
underlying her masterful use of apostrophes, colons, and/or semi-colons.
Have lined up in advance ten (give or take two or three) questions youíre
going to ask your student. Go with your best first?the issues youíre virtually
positive the student will be unable to address if the writing is, indeed,
[textual references to Kors, Alan C. "The Betrayal of Liberty on Americaís
Campuses." In Exploring Language, ninth edition. Ed. Gary Goshgarian.
New York: Longman, 2001. 353-59.]
Dan Tompkins, Director, Intellectual Heritage Program
Plagiarism and the University Disciplinary Committee
As members of a professional community, faculty in the First-Year Writing and Intellectual Heritage Programs have substantial discretion in handling cases of plagiarism. In a community of professionals, there can be no other way. Individual teachers must consider a complex array of variables as they decide how to deal with students who have violated our codes of academic integrity, and there is no "one size fits all" penalty.
In all cases, however, plagiarism is a serious violation and needs to be treated seriously. One way to acknowledge this seriousness is to report violations to the University Disciplinary Committee (UDC), the Temple committee that adjudicates violations of academic integrity. Because UDC both assigns penalties and keeps records of student infractions, it alone is able to identify repeat offenders.
UDC practice is to assign at least an F for the course when a student is determined to have plagiarized. Additional penalties such as probation and community service are also common. The committee does recommend that teachers recommend a penalty when submitting a case.
To submit a case, the faculty member must send a report, with evidence and a recommended penalty, to the University Code Administrator, at the Student Assistance Center, 13th Street at Montgomery Avenue (1-8531, fax 1-3287). The report should be as clear and convincing as possible, and should include all pertinent evidence. It need not be lengthy.
If a student accepts responsibility for academic dishonesty, the Committee simply holds an administrative hearing and assigns a penalty. If the student demands a hearing, the faculty member is asked to testify. Usually the teacherís testimony comes at the beginning of a hearing and takes less than half an hour, after which the teacher is free to leave. This is not a burdensome procedure.
If UDC finds a previous infraction, the penalty will be proportionately harsher. If a post-graduate school (most often, a law school) requests information about a student, the committee will not report without the studentís permission and then simply says that the student has a record. Deans at selected law schools indicate that the student then has the obligation to explain the record.
Faculty should seriously consider reporting student plagiarism to UDC.
This is the only way to create a record of continued infractions, and the
act of reporting shows that we take academic honesty seriously.
THE PEDAGOGY OF COLLABORATION IN THE WRITING CENTER
Lori Salem, Director, The Writing Center
Most writers, most of the time, can benefit from talking to someone about what they are writing. In fact, academics usually develop their work in and through conversations with colleagues. All of our most prestigious journals are staffed by editors who work with authors on their texts, and many journals also have outside readers who offer feedback aimed at improving a text before it is published. In other words, most faculty collaborate when they write. This makes a lot of sense. If academic writing is about communicating ideas to a community of scholars, then asking actual members of that community to respond to the text before it is published can only help the writer sharpen arguments and refine language.
Can we, or should we, apply this same model to student writing? Well, yes and no. Student writers are obviously more tentative and less authoritative than faculty, so any kind of collaboration ó whether with teachers, tutors or fellow students ó is a little bit risky. Students may assume that teachersí or tutorsí suggestions are always better than their own ideas and make changes without really understanding or evaluating them. Or if the student has no real agenda for writing, she might use a collaboration to grab ideas, rather than working to develop her own. But there are also problems if we donít collaborate with students. Without an opportunity to talk to someone about her work, the studentís writing process is hobbled. She is more likely to produce papers filled with unexamined personal opinion or vague generalizations.
So how can we help students without helping too much? This is where the Writing Center can shine. The tutorís most important job is to enact the role of the academic audience, just as a journal editor or a colleague would. We listen (or read) carefully and thoroughly and then offer thoughtful, critical feedback. Unlike an editor, however, the tutorís primary concern is for the writer to improve, not necessarily the text (although better writers will ultimately produce better texts). Therefore, rather than simply finding ways to fix up the paper in front of her, the tutor tries to guide the student toward doing the revisions herself. For some students, "guiding" can simply mean pointing out a problem. Others require more intensive hands-on help. But as long as student learning is the goal, the tutor wonít cross the line into ghost-writing any part of the studentís paper.
The idea of collaboration gets a bit muddier when it comes to grammar. Many people ó students, faculty and administrators ó think of the Writing Center as a proofreading shop, where students can go to get their grammar corrected. But to simply correct someoneís grammar would be, in effect, to ghost-write his paper. Of course, we do work with students on grammar, using the same methods described above, but again our primary goal is to have the student learn something, rather than to merely fix up the paper that is in front of us.