Plagiarism cases drop for third straight year
The U of S announced Oct. 27 that for the third straight year the number of cases of student cheating and plagiarism have dropped.
University Secretary Lea Pennock says the trend was revealed in the University’s annual set of statistics compiled on all forms of student academic dishonesty.
In a U of S news release, Pennock says from July 2004 to June 2005 the University had 52 cases of academic dishonesty heard by college and university panels. Of these, 47 students were found to be guilty. As a result, one student was suspended for a term, none were expelled, and the remainder were penalized with either failure or a grade reduction in the class.
“The reduction in cases this year appears to be due primarily to fewer charges of plagiarism, in contrast to other types of academic dishonesty,” Pennock says.
In 2003-04 there were 45 cases of plagiarism and in 2004-05 there were 29 cases.
This is the third year that the University has released its academic dishonesty statistics. In 2002-03, there were a total of 79 cases heard, and 67 students were found to be guilty. In 2003-04, there were 73 cases heard, and 60 were found to be guilty.
“The U of S takes a proactive approach in educating students about honesty and integrity so that their degrees are earned honestly and are respected by their future employers,” Pennock says. “The University has focused particular attention on plagiarism issues over the last three years and I am very pleased to see that our hard work is paying off.”
Faculty discuss plagiarism issues in class, and information about plagiarism and cheating is included in class outlines. The University Secretary’s Office began a campaign in 2002 using the catchphrase Writing It Right to educate students about plagiarism and provide resources so that students could cite sources correctly when writing essays.
Another improvement made at the U of S last year deals with the problem of copying laboratory assignments. A new procedure developed by computer science professor Mark Eramian, was used in computer science classes to educate students about the importance of doing their own software assignments.
The computer science department uses a software detection program to identify similarities in software writing assignments in computer science courses. A department panel, which includes a student representative, then determines whether a warning letter should be sent to alert the student that they should not be sharing software writing with other students. Last year, 105 of these warning letters were sent. Only two students became repeat offenders and they were charged with plagiarism.
This past week, Oct. 31-Nov. 4 marked the University’s third annual Writing It Right Week. Lunchtime sessions educated students and faculty about the importance of honesty and integrity. More information can be found at www.usask.ca/honesty/week.shtml.