Plagiarism plagues Carleton
July 9, 2002
By Canadian Consulting Engineer
A large number of engineering students in their fourth year of study at Carleton University have been punished for...
A large number of engineering students in their fourth year of study at Carleton University have been punished for plagiarism. Plagiarism is counted as one of the most serious offences in academic circles.
In a press release issued this week, the university’s Faculty of Engineering and Design reported that it had finished its investigation of 30 cases and concluded that 29 of the students were guilty.
The problem in many cases is that students were found to be copying text from the Internet. They were using the material in essays for a professional practice course.
They apparently did not understand that when an author borrows and cites text wholesale, he or she must acknowledge the source clearly in their texts. Otherwise it is theft of intellectual property. Also, if an author is relaying ideas or other information that is not in general circulation — even if the author is not exactly reproducing the words of the text — he or she must give the source of that information.
This was the first essay many of the Carleton students had been asked to write and several use English as a second language. Four professors noticed something was wrong, and simply plugged in some of the phrases into a search engine and found the original sources of the texts.
The students are being given penalties ranging from a zero grade for the essay, to mandatory failure in the course. The latter means some students may have to stay an extra year. In severe cases they may even be dismissed from the program.
At least three other Canadian universities are concerned with students plagiarizing material from the Internet, reports the Globe and Mail. A California-based information firm, Turnitin.com, has been hired by the University of Western Ontario, for example, to monitor students’ work.