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Nobody Like A Copycat

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Nobody Likes a Copycat

Due to the amount of information readily available through websites and online libraries, the problem with plagiarism has become a major ethical issue in today's academic environment. David Callahan, author of Cheating Culture (Macklem, 2006), states "Widespread cheating is undermining some of the most important ideals of American society." With the continuous rise of academic challenges students are pressured more to look towards faster and more convenient ways of research and writing. Conveniently, while students are completing their research, many subjects have topics that represent their thoughts so perfectly that they can not put it in their own words. And instead of taking the effort to word the information differently or citing references correctly they are in violation of copyright laws, the act known as plagiarism. Professors and faculty members are faced with the need to stop this unethical behavior by first coming to the realization that plagiarism is a problem in today's academic society and the reasons behind the student's behavior and then deciding on the best way to stop plagiarism from getting out of control.

The negative impact with the growing trend of plagiarism not only affects the faculty members in today's academic society but the students as well. According to a study conducted by Duke University's Center for Academic Integrity (Vencat, Overdorf, and Adams, 2006), internet plagiarism has quadrupled in the past six years. The growing amount of information available for students to gain knowledge online is making it harder for professors to check references and possible plagiarism. In a 1999 survey, 10% of students admitted to plagiarizing off the Internet, that number rose to 41% in 2001 (Toosi, 2004). One could assume that the alarming rate of increase could possibly be due to the student's lack of guilt in admitting to plagiarism instead of the overall increase in the amount of plagiarism itself. Whether this assumption is valid or not, the situation at hand is still a growing dilemma and is not committed primarily by the lower-achieving students but the high-achieving students that have the most to gain (Toosi, 2004). The deterioration of ethics in the academic world cannot wholly be blamed on the students; fore the administration is responsible for taking actions against these methods. Collegiate studies showed that nearly 88% of faculty members admitted they observed some form of cheating and that only 32% of those members did anything about the situation (Morales, 2000). Many professors rather have a favorable evaluation from students than to deal with the hassles of trying to prove that a student has committed plagiarism. These hassles include lack of support from the administration and fears of being sued by student who are acquitted of any charges (Morales, 2000). What good is to teach that plagiarism is ethically wrong when the professors who teach this fundamental value will not take the steps to correct the problem? These students who commit plagiarism whether it is from laziness or from not being taught correctly on proper citation are the leaders of the future. A very disturbing thought if one thinks about it.

The World Wide Web with its vast and seemingly unlimited resources of knowledge harbor sites that make money for creating ideas and writing research and term papers for students. A student can easily purchase an "original" essay from Gradesaver.com or have experts in India complete computer-programming homework from Rentacoder.com (Vencat et al. 2006). With the wide spread use of the Internet throughout the campuses and the pressures of deadlines on students, especially during then end of term, this booming business of buying and selling of plagiarized work is being used more often. Students only have to look to search engines such as Google to find sites like FastPapers.com or EssayTown.com that offer thousands of subjects to relieve some of the pressures of college (Toosi, 2004). For one day delivery, for the low price of $24.95, a student can purchase an "original" essay including free bibliography and footnotes from schoolsucks.com (Macklem, 2006). This price drops to $14.95 if one would like three day delivery for their essay. Imagine, student's price shopping for their "original" essays on the internet. "I was going to go with Rentacoder.com but schoolsucks.com was offering free footnotes this month. You can't beat an offer like that." What has become of ethics in today's academic society? University of Central England found (MacLeod, 2006) that the average student was posting four to seven assignments online to be completed by someone else. The study also discovered that companies, acting as middlemen, were bidding on assignments so that it is harder for students to be found out by faculty members. When your in the black-market for plagiarized assignments, one cannot be to careful. Sean Currie, a junior from the University of Marquette, Wisconsin was interviewed (Toosi, 2004). He states that the reason he uses the products offered online is because of the pressure to succeed. He goes on to say that, "If you get a 4.0 or a 3.5, you're going to die old and lonely in a gutter." And in his wisdom he adds that the smartest cheaters do not copy or cut-and-paste but they steal others ideas. With that being said, would it not be scary to find out that he became your stock broker or your lawyer? He represents the voice of today's academic society and tomorrow's ethical business man.

While students have used the Internet to find various sites to have their assignments cultured for them; professors have an assortment of sites to submit assignments to check for plagiarism. Turnitin.com is by far the most widely known web based plagiarism checker available for university faculty to use. The company was created by iParadigms in the late 1990's and represents clients from over 50 countries (Toosi, 2004). Turnitin.com has billions of published papers and prior essays written by students to compare against the submitted material (MacLeod, 2006). The database will then spot any suspicious information and present the professor with a side-by-side copy of both the submitted paper and the original work found. The professor can then determine if the student copied the information or if the information is just written fairly alike. This side-by-side copy of information is needed when presenting a case of plagiarism to the university administration. Another site available is iThenticate.com, created by John Barrie founder of and CEO of iParadigms. iThenticate is an offshoot of the Turnitin.com technology that the company created and is used by 2,500 universities and high schools nationwide

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