9. Academic Integrity and Plagiarism


In this course module, we consider a common bump in the road: issues of academic integrity. At some point in your career, you will undoubtedly find yourself trying to understand a student’s intention in a piece of writing that misuses a source and make a judgment call. This module shows you the different types of plagiarism you may encounter, how to help students understand plagiarism, and UM’s policies and procedures for dealing with academic integrity problems.

Beyond Plagiarism ^

The Beyond Plagiarism site, created jointly by Sweetland and the library, is an excellent resource for information on citation and academic integrity. The site is a work in progress, but the modules on “Understanding Sources” and “Using Sources” can be a valuable resource. We recommend that you spend some time going through the modules, and consider assigning them to your students as well.

What Is Plagiarism? ^

In the introduction of her essay  Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty, Rebecca Moore Howard notes that,

most published discussions of student plagiarism proceed from the assumption that plagiarism occurs as a result of one of two possible motivations: an absence of ethics or an ignorance of citation conventions. (788)

Her statement clearly outlines the way we typically think about plagiarism either they did it on purpose, or they didn’t mean to. The library has a useful chart that demonstrates which activities fall into the intentional and unintentional categories of plagiarism: Types of Plagiarism

Please take time to explore these resources that explain the different types of plagiarism:

Council of Writing Program Administrators, Defining Plagiarism?

The Citation Project-The results section has useful information about why students plagiarize.

What Do Students Need to Know about Plagiarism and Academic Integrity? ^

In this section we offer two resources to help your students understand academic integrity and avoid plagiarism.

Academic integrity can feel like an abstract concept. In the video below, Megan Sweeney, Arthur F. Thurnau Associate Professor of English and Director of the English Department Writing Program, explains why proper use of sources matters to an academic community.

The clip presents two key points for students:

  • Effective use of sources helps you engage with others’ ideas and develop your own
  • Your teachers are available to you; instead of trying to fool them, use them as resources

The Effects of Plagiarism on Academic Community

In a second video, Megan Sweeney offers advice for students feeling overwhelmed with work, which is the primary cause of intentional plagiarism.

Key points in this video include:

  • Everyone experiences struggles with writing
  • We think better in dialogue with other people: as a result, times when you’re struggling are times to reach out for help
  • Instructors won’t judge you when you ask for help
  • In addition to talking to your instructor, you can talk to others, like your peers or other professors
  • There is always someone at the university you can reach out to

I’m feeling overwhelmed with work. What should I do?

Both of these videos are resources you can offer students to frame conversations about academic integrity.

What Should I Do if I Suspect a Student Has Plagiarized? ^

If you suspect a student has plagiarized, your best course of action as a GSI is to refer the case to your professor. The two resources below address how to respond to plagiarism, and the university procedures in place for addressing academic misconduct.

In this unedited interview footage, Anne Curzan, who is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English of at the University of Michigan and former director of the English Department Writing Program, outlines several useful approaches for responding to student plagiarism. (This interview was filmed for the Beyond Plagiarism project, and will be included in the For Faculty section.)

Topics addressed in this clip include:

  • I suspect plagiarism. What do I do?
  • What do I do if a student denies plagiarism?
  • What do I do if a student gets emotional?
  • What should instructors avoid doing at all costs?

Responding to Plagiarism

In this final resource, Esrold Nurse, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, explains the university procedures for academic misconduct:

Procedures for Resolving Academic Misconduct in LSA

See the faculty FAQ for further information.

Even if you decide to resolve a plagiarism case without involving the Dean’s office, we still encourage you to report the incident. If there is a repeat offense, the university should know about previous academic misconduct.