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Honor Council

Honor Council Examples from Previous Cases

Note: The following cases have been chosen from previous Honor Council hearings. Each example is anonymous and details have been changed to protect the identity of students and professors. Still, these examples can educate students about the hearing process and provide insight into the varying degrees of Honor Code violations. These are just a few examples, and it is important to remember that each case is different. All summaries of hearings during an academic year are available in the Dean of Students' office in an anonymous folder.

Example 1: Class I Violation

Summary:

A freshman student in an introductory humanities class turned in the last research paper for her course. After reading the paper, the professor realized the language was of a higher caliber than previous work by the student, and Googled a section of the paper. The search resulted in a verbatim copy from an online encyclopedia. The paper was also submitted to Turnitin.com, which showed that the paper had a Similarity Index of 60%. Moreover, the paper did not contain a Works Cited page and the only in text citations were from the class's textbook.

The student admitted to the professor that she went online and incorporated information into the paper. She added words in the middle of plagiarized sentences and used incorrect citations throughout the paper. The student spent the previous weekend relaxing at home and did not start the paper until the night before it was due. She did not ask the professor for an extension. In addition, she never went to the professor's office hours to discuss her topic.

The case resulted in a multiple term suspension for the student, probation without representation for a semester, and probation with representation for tenure.

Click on the images below to view larger:

Example from Turnit
Example Turnitin.com report
Student paper I
Example from paper
Student Paper II
Example from paper


Analysis and Advice:

Professors are exceptional at spotting plagiarism because they are experts in their fields and know the literature. Search engines and Turnitin.com provide clear evidence surrounding Honor Code violations. Not only does Turnitin.com highlight the plagiarized material - it also is easy to distinguish original material, which can reveal the intent of the student. A plagiarized sentence with inserted words illustrates that the student is trying to hide the plagiarized material. In this particular case, intent and the volume of plagiarized material were key factors in the decision of a multiple term suspension.

Plagiarism often occurs when students wait until the last minute to begin writing a research paper. Therefore, our advice is simple: do not procrastinate when writing a paper. Start a few weeks early, visit the professor during his or her office hours, go to the Writing Center with drafts. Part of the challenge of first-year students is learning how to balance one's time. BSC has several tools to assist students in learning how to manage time such as the Academic Research Center, Writing Center, and Freshmen Success Seminars.

If one happens to wait until the night before to start a research paper, it is much better to ask for an extension than go online and copy from an encyclopedia. It is much better to take a late paper point deduction than risk tarnishing one's academic integrity.

Example 2: Class II Violation

Summary:

A freshman student was struggling in writing a short paper in his introductory French class. Since his roommate was a French major, he asked his roommate to review the paper. The roommate made several corrections to the paper. When reading the paper, the professor noticed it was of higher quality than the student's previous work, with grammatical mechanics that had not been taught in class. The professor specifically stated that students could not use outside help. When she confronted the student, he admitted to getting help from his roommate.

Because the student and professor were in agreement with the violation, this case was processed via the Class II track. The student received a F in the course, mandatory visits to the ARC center, and probation with representation for tenure.

Analysis and Advice:

Know the degree of collaboration that professors allow on specific assignments. Many professors encourage students to work together, but often assignments do not call for outside help. One of the benefits of an Honor System is allowing work to be completed outside class, but only when specified by the professor. If uncertain about collaboration, it is always best and safest to ask.

Example 3: Class II Violation

Summary:

A freshmen student plagiarized a portion of a research paper in his introductory science class. The student did use sources, but was confused about how to properly cite the material. Turnitin.com reported an Overall Similarity Index of 50%. Close examination of the paper found that the student did not paraphrase the outside sources. Instead, he simply copied the material without using quotation marks and then added the citation at the end of sentences.

The student was given the option of agreeing with the professor, or going to a full Class I hearing. The student chose Class II and received a failing grade on the paper, probation with representation for tenure, and mandatory visits to the Writing Center.

Click on the images below to view larger:

Turnitin Example
Example Turnitin.com report
Turnitin example II
Example Turnitin.com report

 

Analysis and Advice:

It is crucial for students to understand the definition of plagiarism, which is the act of using outside material without giving credit. Directly copied material from an outside source must be in quotations and properly follow format rules of a particular academic field. Paraphrasing is an important tool for all writers. Paraphrasing involves putting the outside information into the author's words. It is still plagiarism if one copies from an outside source and simply substitutes synonyms by right clicking in Microsoft Word. Paraphrasing requires lots of practice and techniques are taught in introductory English courses. Visiting the Writing Center and talking to the professor are also important steps that keep a student from unknowingly plagiarizing a source.

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