Academic Honesty and English 100
The University-wide rules
You should become aware of Ashland University's Academic Integrity Policy. It discusses plagiarism (presenting someone else's words as your own work), fabrication (inventing "facts" for academic writing), cheating, and other forms of academic misconduct. Professors assume you know these rules; ignorance is no excuse. Cheating and lying will get you in trouble in any of your courses here.
The general rules:
- If you didn't think it up yourself, tell the reader where you got it. Don't pretend that someone else's writing is yours.
- If you don't know what you're talking about, find out—then tell the reader where you got your information. (Inventing fake "facts" is a form of academic dishonesty.)
- Do your own work. If you get someone to write your paper for you and present it as your own, that's fraud.
Special Issues in English 100
The product we're trying to make here is not a set of great essays; we're aiming at making good writers. A student once asked me, "Why do you care who wrote the essay I gave you? You got your paper!" I didn't want a good paper; I wanted a good student.
We face several problems in this course:
- Fear and lack of self-confidence. Some students assume that anything written by anyone on the Internet has got to be better than their attempt. That's not really true, and you can't get better by simply turning in other people's work.
- Time pressure. It's just barely possible to be a student AND a member of a varsity team. I understand that, and I'm going to work on helping you keep ahead of your schedule. Stealing something at the last second isn't the way to solve your problems.
- Tradition. Some of you have been taught that a student never actually writes anything new—you've learned that the right way to do a school paper is to glue together pieces of other people's writing. We don't do that here. The majority of anything you write—even a research paper—should be your own writing. As a rough rule, I recommend that at the maximum, 20% of your paper will come from an outside source, AND you will clearly indicate where the borrowed material came from.
- Second-language problems. If you are struggling to learn English, you may be tempted to believe that any dishonesty that keeps you in the United States is worth it.
- The team study table. Many team sports really do discourage independent thinking, and when the team gets together for the study table, everyone works on everyone else's homework. That keeps everyone eligible to play, but it doesn't result in building your skills. You need to write your own stuff.
A teacher's personal thoughts about plagiarism
Plagiarism is really sad—especially from students who make it a habit—because the plagiarist is making three assumptions:
- The student is assuming that he/she does not have the ability to do the work and cannot learn how.
- The plagiarist is assuming that the teacher is too stupid to figure out what is going on.
- The student who plagiarizes assumes that knowledge and skill do not count in his/her profession—the only thing that counts is the grade in the grade book because (obviously) any untrained person could do the work.
- If you include an outside source or two and do a clumsy job of citation, I'll simply show you how to do it better. If you include substantial outside material without any citation, you will have to write a new paper that doesn't use any outside material.
- If your in-class writing is nowhere near the skill level of your essays, I will seriously question how you were able to produce the essays.
- Papers that show substantial, intentional plagiarism will receive a zero with no opportunity for revision. In addition, I will notify the appropriate University authorities and your next English teacher.
In this course
- All papers will run through a plagiarism-checking service called "Safe Assign." (If you think you can trick the system by submitting a paper copy instead of uploading it, I will simply scan all paper copies and submit them to Safe Assign anyhow.)
- If two students submit papers which are substantially the same, both will receive the penalty for plagiarism because it is normally impossible to determine who was the original author and who copied. Do not loan out your work on flash drives. If you share a computer with someone, you would be wise to password-protect the folder where your work is stored.
- If you are uncertain whether you are committing plagiarism, your instructor will be happy to help you figure it out. The staff at the University Writing Center are also well trained in helping with this issue.