Why a tutorial on plagiarism?
In 2004 one of the most important cases of UK plagiarism came to public attention when Michael Gunn argued that his institution (the University of Kent at Canterbury) had failed to point out to him that plagiarism is an offence. He freely admitted that he had plagiarised. The case, finally settled out of court, has led many institutions to tighten regulations on plagiarism, and to provide better guidance to its students. The problem of plagiarism, or accusations of it, are not confined to students. Vice Chancellor Professor David Robinson at Monash University in Australia, is a case in point. The extent of the problem among US students and institutions has been well documented, and in the UK the press reports of so called cheat sites, and students use of them are evident. Such sites are not restricted to text, and we are also aware of sites which offer to provide solutions to computer coding or programming assignments. In 2002, L. Major (Cited in Caroll 2002:17) quotes an email from a site where it was stated (to a prospective student client):
" you need not worry that the authorities would discover the work is not your own. In some cases I can if felt necessary that the work I am writing might seem as above the grade that could be attained by the student, actually build in material which I know is incorrect."
Such sites are common around the world. Clearly the digitalisation of text and code has led to confusion about what is, and what is not acceptable in the way in which we acknowledge the intellectual property of other people. Plagiarism continues to be an important topic in the news. This tutorial aims to clarify the problem, and provide advice to students at the University of Nottingham who seek to avoid the dangers of plagiarism and other cheating behaviours.