7 tips to avoid plagiarism and cheating

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 7 tips to avoid plagiarism and cheating

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At Nebraska we share a commitment to the highest standards of academic integrity. The UNL Student Code of Conduct identifies eight (8) distinct types of dishonest acts, but the most common are:

  1. Plagiarism: Presenting another person’s work as your own. Sometimes it is appropriate to rely on the ideas, research, or creative materials of someone else. However, you must recognize and attribute the work of others using references or citations. Note that this is not limited to work taken from a book, journal article, report, or website, but also includes work previously submitted by classmates or peers (for example, in a previous offering of the same class).
  2. Cheating: There are many ways to cheat, but they almost always involve a student going to an unauthorized source for answers. Unauthorized sources can be a website, secret or concealed notes, using a book on a closed exam, or looking at another person’s test/assignment. Faculty members or instructors decide what is authorized or unauthorized; always check the syllabus and ask.
  3. Fabricating or Falsifying: When you make something up, falsely represent facts or previous accounts, or alter or manipulate something to support your position or idea, you are being dishonest or unethical.
  4. Impermissible Collaboration: Working with others to complete an assignment or exam should only be done when a faculty member or instructor permits it. Assuming you can because the faculty member or instructor has not said anything is a mistake. Ask before you act.

There are many reasons students choose to act dishonestly, but there is never an acceptable reason to plagiarize, cheat, or commit other acts of academic dishonesty. And it is never a victimless act. The victims of academic dishonesty include professors, classmates and the university itself. Most of all, the dishonest student loses, selling their integrity at an embarrassingly low price and missing out on an opportunity to advance through real effort and accomplishment.

Tips to Avoid Acting Dishonestly

  • Talk to your professor. Whenever an assignment is unclear, ask. Don’t rely on your fellow classmates for information.
  • Complete assignments independently unless your instructors indicate otherwise. Clarify what’s expected of you when you’re working on a group project.
  • Plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute to complete an assignment will make you feel rushed and out of control. Good time management allows you to prepare adequately and, in case you have questions, contact your instructor for clarification.
  • Don’t share your work with others. If classmates have a question, you can help allowing them to copy your assignment(or vice versa) won’t teach them anything and you’re likely to be charged with academic dishonesty as well.
  • Learn how to cite properly. If you paraphrase or summarize what someone else said, you still have to attribute this information to them.
  • Ask for an extension. If you can’t get an assignment in on-time, you're better off taking a zero. If you copy or submit someone else's work, your instructor will notice and you likely will be charged with academic dishonesty. In the end, it’s not worth it.
  • Avoid the impression of cheating. Keep your eyes to yourself, cover your answers and distance yourself from others to reduce the temptation to look. To avoid the impression of cheating, don’t look into your bag or use your cell phone during an exam (just the act of looking at your cell phone during an exam is already considered cheating, whether your actually used the phone for cheating or not).

Remember, if you cheat, you’re preventing yourself from obtaining the university education that you’ve set out to achieve. Take pride in your personal achievements and don’t sell yourself short. You’re here because you have what it takes to be successful, so study hard and be proud of the effort you put toward your courses.

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