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Ever since I began my university career two and a half years ago I’ve had the concept and importance of Academic Honesty pounded into my head.   We have all been threatened with grades of zero, removal from our respective programs and expulsion from university all together.  These are things all students take quite seriously and I think, for the majority of us, encourages to be academically honest.  So where am I going with this?

This past Monday I was in one of my lectures (one most of my ECMP classmates would have also attended) getting lectured about how to write essays.  Our presenter was going on and reading examples from a hand out of photocopied works.  The only way you might know where they came from would be because it was included in the photocopy.  We then moved onto the next handout he had prepared for us.   In this handout he gave us a brief background on some strategies we should try to use for our papers.  The handout continues to give three extensive examples of some of these from pieces of literature.  There was no sign of any sort of the origin of these works, although he did mention they came from a collection of works he had.

Our last handout included basic APA rules and formatting guidelines.  This wasn’t really interesting until the first paragraph ended with:

“All three [direct quotation, paraphrase, and summary] forms of reference require you to name your source.  Not to do so is plagiarism.  Plagiarism implies that you have originated all the ideas in your text yourself.” (Source intentionally withheld.)

I hope I’m not the only one who sees a problem with this. Wikipedia also defines plagiarism as  “the adoption or reproduction of ideas or words or statements of another person without due acknowledgment.”   These two definitions are essentially the same.

Is it me or is plagiarism not being clearly displayed in the first two handouts?!  After looking closer, there are at least 11 accounts of blatant plagiarism!

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Does plagiarism only apply to students?  Why are students being punished for simply paraphrasing incorrectly when someone with their Phd can do much worse without any consequences?

There is something clearly wrong here and it made me realize something; I have very rarely noticed handouts or slides that were properly acknowledged since I’ve started university.  I know that professors are very well educated but I’m quite sure that they don’t come up with everything they teach all by themselves.  Certainly, most of the content is their own thoughts or ideas, but it cannot be entirely if they’re teaching from a text book.

Has anyone else noticed this?  Now don’t get me wrong, I know some professors do acknowledge sources as they should and I know some may even mention them when they go over them.  But what about the ones who don’t?

Why should students be expected to cite perfectly (even if there is one little slip up there is usually consequences) when some of their professors don’t even put forth an effort?  Are professors held accountable for their actions like students are?  Do they get fired for such incidents like students get expelled?

I apologize for the rant, I just find it frustrating that standards aren’t consistent for everyone (or maybe I’m wrong and they are).