Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Newark Star-Ledger does Rutgers plagiarism case on 4 Dec 2011

In an article titled Former Rutgers student says software detecting plagiarism was wrong when it flagged her work, caused her to fail which appeared on Sunday, December 4, 2011, author Kelly Heyboer discussed the plagiarism case against (former) Rutgers student Amanda Serpico.

Of the procedure at Rutgers, Heyboer wrote:

All students accused of cheating enter Rutgers’ seldom-seen and often-secretive academic integrity disciplinary process. In the most serious cases, students appear at hearings behind closed doors. Others, like Serpico, are not given a chance to argue their case in person. Instead, they file a written appeal outlining their innocence and are judged by a panel of university professors, administrators and students.


Though there are provisions in the rules to allow students to waive their confidentiality, opening up academic dishonesty hearings to the public or the press requires the consent of both the accused students and their professors. That means few students or parents know much about the process and it is difficult to know how cases are handled behind closed doors.
"Most students and faculty want it private," said Newman, director of Rutgers’ office of student conduct. "I’ve never had a case where all parties have agreed (to an open hearing)."

**The paper in question was titled "Lifting the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas." The issue was the copying of passages, without attribution, from three sources: from a gay rights website, a Yale University student’s blog and an online journal about gay politics. The copying was identified through use of turnitin .

The Star-Ledger discussed Serpico's defense in the following way:

In her eight-page appeal, Serpico said all of the text her instructor accused her of plagiarizing was taken from the sources she listed on the "works cited" page she attached to her paper. "My paper was not plagiarized, and all of my sources are accounted for, even if they were not properly cited within text, they were clearly made visible on my reference page at the end of my paper," Serpico wrote in her appeal.

This was the approach taken by Glenn Poshard at SIU. Poshard argued that he did cite the sources within his thesis, even though he did NOT footnote the explicitly copied text within his thesis. This defense was rejected. However, Poshard got a chance to re-write his thesis.

One thinks also of the Princeton plagiarism case [ 186 N.J. Super. 548; 453 A.2d 263]. There, the student was given the sources to write the paper by the professor, and the student copied, without attribution, from a provided source. Turnitin was not needed to uncover that plagiarism.


Plagiarism in academic contexts: a look at the past

No plagiarism at Harvard, Princeton, Yale and no need for turnitin?

**Rutgers, unlike Princeton, is a state-funded institution. The requirements for procedural due process under the 14th Amendment attach, as Rutgers found out during the San Filippo case.


Post a Comment

<< Home