Plagiarism: short-term fix, long-term failure

Kernel Editorial

We’ve all had the urge. It’s 2 a.m. and that 15-page research paper due tomorrow is guaranteeing you an all-nighter. It’s so tempting to knock out those last five pages by going to Google and copying the first relevant thing the search engine spits out. But step back and put things into perspective: What’s more important in the long run — a few hours of sleep, or your academic integrity?

The answer should be easy, but according to a Jan. 25 Kernel article, reports of plagiarism are on the rise at UK. Students are especially being caught in the disciplines of English and chemistry. Although this increase could be attributed to advancements in technology that make it easier to spot plagiarism, some cases may occur because students are ignorant of proper source citation.

If improper citation is truly the cause of abundant plagiarism, students and professors should see this as a learning opportunity, Academic Ombud Lee Edgerton said in the Kernel article.

“This is a time when (a professor) should be helping the student learn rather than be charging them with an academic offense,” he said.

This is an institution of higher learning, after all. So a student shouldn’t be punished for an honest mistake.

However, students who blatantly use others’ work without citation should be punished harshly. The university’s policy — giving an E in the course with no option to retake the course for a replacement grade — is tough, but not academic suicide, even though it stays on a student’s record.

Doing assignments for class now is easier than ever. Students have full-text journals and books right at their fingertips at any time of day (or night) thanks to the UK Libraries Web site. There’s no need to decipher the Dewey Decimal System or bother with the confusing mechanized bookshelves at W.T. Young Library. You simply type in the search bar what you are looking for and you are inundated with countless scholarly articles on any subject. It is not that hard, but students have become increasingly lazy as gathering information becomes more convenient.

In the end, cheating is wrong and we all know that. We got into this university for a reason: we are intelligent and can think for ourselves. Why not prove that to our professors? There’s no better time than now to learn from past mistakes and develop good habits. There are no E’s in the real world.