What Does Tech Think: What Do You Consider Plagiarism?

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The Situation:

You are grading a student’s paper and realize that several passages are borderline plagiarized from a text you’re familiar with. They aren’t verbatim, but they are similar enough to make you uncomfortable and to consider speaking with the student. What would you do?

The Response:

To proactively deal with the issue of plagiarism, Richard Barke always includes the following website on his syllabus: The site provides examples of various versions of plagiarism.

“I tell students that these examples are clear enough and that there will be no ‘I didn’t know where the line was’ excuses,” said Barke, an associate professor and undergraduate director in the School of Public Policy.

In this case, if it’s a first offense, then Barke thinks that a serious chat might be enough, followed by close scrutiny.

“But if it’s total cut-and-paste, or there’s a pattern of skirting the edge, it’s time to go to the Office of Student Integrity,” he added.  

According to Cara Appel-Silbaugh, interim director of Student Integrity, you would have two options: speak with the student or refer it to Student Integrity (visit for more information) for investigation. Regardless of which option you choose, she advises you to remember the following:

  • Keep your own copy of all materials in a secure location.
  • Refrain from discussing the case in the classroom or with other students.
  • The accused student is expected to continue attending your course and complete all assignments in the course until the matter is resolved.
  • Students should be provided the grade of “Incomplete” on the questionable assignment until the matter is resolved.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Amelia Pavlik
  • Created:02/06/2012
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016