I have a large stack of essays to grade, so I stock up on snacks and beverages and lock myself in my office. I read one essay after the other and provide detailed, encouraging feedback for each student. Suddenly, I'm reading an essay that shifts in tone, vocabulary, and voice. I know the student didn't write it. My stomach churns. I want to throw up. What should I do?
Why did the student plagiarize? Why-oh-why? Now, how am I supposed to stay true to institution regulations regarding plagiarism while staying positive and encouraging to students who may be new to the idea of "stealing words"?
What is Plagiarism?
There are several definitions. The one I chose to use in my presentation comes from Murdoch University in Dubai. I chose them because they have an informative video about the potential consequences of plagiarism. It's an intense video, so I've only showed it to my students once, but it brought up a lot of great discussion questions and really dives into why students might choose to plagiarize and why it's wrong to do it.
Murdoch University states that plagiarism is "the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." When I ask my students what plagiarism is, they yell, "it's cheating!" That about sums it up as well.