Academic Honesty and Plagiarism in Online Classes

Academic honesty is a hot topic in the online education space right now. While the increase in Internet accessibility has fueled the growth of online courses, it has also created problems related to the availability of information. When students develop discussion responses and writing assignments, they often look for sources to inform their work. What faculty regularly discover is plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. Online teachers are expected to adhere to academic standards, so understanding the many types of breaches that are possible is important in order to be proactive and teach students how to create original work.

The most common form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism, which occurs when a student uses a source without providing a proper citation or acknowledging the words used. After receiving and reviewing an originality report, it is important to distinguish between accidental and intentional plagiarism when comparing sources to the student’s work. Accidental or unintentional plagiarism means that the student has attempted in some way to cite the sources used but forgot an element such as a citation in the text while still providing a list of references. Intentional plagiarism indicates that no citation or notation or list of references was given when sources were clearly used.

It is imperative that online teachers use all available resources to verify the originality of students’ work. Teachers develop a sense of their students’ writing ability, particularly through interactions within a discussion forum. The first sign of plagiarism occurs when the tone and wording in the paper differs greatly from typical discussion responses. Another indicator in student work are different font sizes and colors. A plagiarism checker is the most effective tool as it searches a variety of internet resources including paper and essay mills. Most originality checking services maintain an archive of student work.

There are other forms of academic dishonesty that can occur. The first is self-plagiarism, and it occurs when a student has reused work from a previous class without first getting their teacher’s approval. Other types include copyright infringement, collusion, and fraud. Collusion and cheating occur when a student has asked someone else to help them complete their work or when they have done the work for them. This is more difficult to verify in an online environment and an instructor cannot issue a sanction without definitive proof.

When an incident of plagiarism is discovered, an instructor must follow applicable policies. Typically, it is the role of the Academic Affairs Department to make a final decision on sanctions to be taken. Intentional plagiarism may result in a failed grade, failed course, written warning and/or expulsion from school. It is usually recorded in the student’s permanent record. Because of the serious nature of academic dishonesty, faculty must be proactive in monitoring originality and teaching students how to develop their own work using sources. The academic claim is only maintained through this dual combination.

Thanks to Dr. Bruce A. Johnson | #Academic #Honesty #Plagiarism #Online #Classes

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