Some of us might be familiar with the Chris Spence controversy. The former Toronto District School Board Director of education (TDSB) was stripped out of his teaching certificate for plagiarizing an opinion piece in the Toronto Star in 2013.
Plagiarism happens here on campus too.
Plagiarism is not just taking someone else’s work without permission. It is taking someone else’s work without giving him or her credit, according to Durham College education developer Sandy Odrowski, it can also be taking something off the internet, like a whole paragraph, and putting it into a paper.
Many students at Durham College have been caught plagiarizing, according to Odrowski.
“There are many instances of plagiarism, in my opinion too many,” she says.
But she says this is not just student’s fault.
“It is occurring for various reasons and I think some of it has to with some international students. What’s considered cheating in their country and what’s considered academic dishonesty here is very different,” Odrowski says.
She also says students coming from high school who never had to cite, or include any kind of references in their work, are sometimes unsure of what constitutes plagiarism.
But students are not the only ones plagiarizing, and Chris Spence is not the only high profile case.
According to the National Post, in 2012, Canadian scientist Dongqing Li and his student Yasaman Daghighi plagiarized from a paper done by a scientist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California in Santa Barbara.
Here at UOIT students say plagiarism is serious.
“As a student, plagiarism eliminates the basic function of the school, that is to challenge student’s mind. It makes students complacent and minimizes growth, education that is,” says Estelle Theodore, a UOIT student.
She also says it is a serious offence, and institutions should implement a course aimed at teaching students’ proper forms of citations. She says one chance is more than enough.
Durham College introduced an academic integrity policy in 2014 to help mitigate cases of plagiarizing. The Student Academic Learning Services (SALS) also has workshops and an online module that all first year students must take in order to graduate.
Students who are unsure about whether they are plagiarizing a paper should speak to their professor, says Odrowski, because they could be risking their college education and possible future career.