I just read this article on the use of Internet in plagiarised papers at universities. While I never have engaged in this activity, it appears to have become quite popular. I’m fascinated by the Turnitin software, although I remember in graduate school that we would often not be allowed to use Internet sources for fear we would plagiarise them.
One part of this article really bothers me, though. They interviewed a British student who had been caught plagiarising. He’s threatening to sue the school if his marks are downgraded because of his behavior. His reasoning: he was never told that plagiarising was against the school’s policies. He has also most likely never bothered to read the school policies.
I don’t know what universities are like over in Britain, but I know I’ve attended three universities here. In all three cases, new students were given a student handbook of policies and procedures to read over and sign off on. The policies deemed most important by the university (includng all parts of the honor code, which included a section on plagiarism) were also icluded in the school’s catalog. If that wasn’t enough notice, nearly every single course syllabus I received during my lovely stints as both an undergrad and a graduate student had a section on what plagiarism is, why it is frowned upon, and very clearly laid out consequences.
As they say, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse.