The law on ... Plagiarism

3rd July 2009 at 01:00

Basic issues

With the growing access that pupils have both at school and at home to the internet, plagiarism in course assessments is on the increase.

Many pupils will use the internet as their primary resource to prepare course assessments, and sometimes are actively encouraged to do so by parents. Plagiarism is, however, a form of cheating and within further and higher education can result in termination of studies. Furthermore, later on in life, plagiarism could lead to professional bodies such as the General Social Care Council, the Nursing amp; Midwifery Council and the Law Society (to name a few) refusing to enrol a student member if they have been found guilty of plagiarism.

How best to deal with preventing plagiarism

It's important that prior to pupils preparing course assessments, they are informed of the meaning of plagiarism, the consequence of it and how to avoid it - particularly with regard to correct referencing.

They should be reminded that if they plagiarise, this will lead to disciplinary action being taken and will remain on their academic record in the future.

Who is responsible?

Teachers should be aware of sources that pupils access to prepare their course assessments and should check those sources prior to submitting coursework to the relevant examination boards, to identify plagiarism.

Schools are under an obligation to inform examination boards if they suspect plagiarism. It is in the interests of the pupils that incorrect referencing or "bad habits" in relation to referencing are dealt with early to prevent unintentional plagiarism in the future.

Some institutions are now using a software package called Turnitin to check pupils' work after submission so the earlier a pupil is made aware of the very serious consequences of plagiarism the more likely it is that they will not get caught by Turnitin, resulting in an allegation of cheating against them

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