My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

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My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Eerors » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:11 am UTC

Preface:
    I'm doing a molecular microbiology masters degree.
    I do lab practicals with two other students and after each one we have to submit a report on what we did.

One of my lab partners wasn't pulling his weight so I confronted him about it. I gave him one last chance to prove himself and told him to complete the lab report's introduction and e-mail it to me by the 3rd Dec. If he didn't then me and the other lab partner would submit a duel piece of work and he would have to submit his own separately.

He gave me his introduction section and I was happy.

Until now.

My task was to do the discussion section of the lab report. I was background reading from a book when some of text looked familiar. I thought nothing of it until I came to spell-check and correct the lab-report before it's submission. This is when I realized that he had copied and pasted sentences from the book into his introduction section. I dug a little deeper and I have found out that the entire introduction section is just a big copy-paste job from two sources.

Now my dilemma:
The fact that he has plagiarised is abhorrent. The fact he lied to me is worse . To top it all, with the deadline today, I have no clue how I should go about this.

    -If I submit it with plagiarism then it could be picked up upon and the group would be penalized because of him. I would also be encouraging his behaviour as he thinks he'll get away with plagiarism...which, in a science subject, you cannot.

    -If I change the introduction then he has effectively submitted nothing thus should not get credit, however I can't just do this to him as I have already told him that I was happy with his introduction (i.e. before I spotted the plagiarism). I can't tell him to write a whole lab report from scratch when the deadline is today....can i?

    -If I tell the course co-ordinator then he might be excluded (which is fine by me :evil: ) however the co-ordinator could give him another chance. This is bad as me and Mr. Plagiarism are working on another lab project together. I don't want this friction between us on this project as he might deliberately sabotage it out of spite because I grassed him out.

So I am at a loss. What can I do? Any and ALL advice is appreciated.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby OUTofPRINT » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:22 am UTC

Definitely don't just turn it in. It's not worth the risk. He plagiarized, that's his problem if he has to write a report in one day.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby jjfortherear » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:56 am UTC

From my knowledge (not first hand) of plagiarism, it's dealt with quite seriously. If you make it clear to your instructor that you don't want to work with this guy anymore, I can't imagine him making you.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby deerie » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:19 am UTC

When you told him you were happy with the product, you didn't know he plagiarized. You owe him nothing. If it doesn't bother you, I can't see any problem with your removing his work and name from the project, rewriting his portion yourself, and informing your course coordinator of the attempted plagiarism and that you want to be removed from any more projects with this guy if he is given a second chance.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby raike » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:32 am UTC

Universities tend to have rather strong cheating policies, especially at the graduate level. You really do need to report the guy, in my opinion. If you were to report him, you should then ask that you not be made to work with him on further projects. I find it quite likely that this would be granted, mainly because plagiarism is severely looked down upon in academia.

At the very least, you should change the introduction; whether or not you remove the other guy's name from the report is up to you (you could drop his name, and throw in an acknowledgment or something at the end for his 'efforts').
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Bakemaster » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:44 am UTC

Speak with your instructor personally. Be as clear and straightforward about the chain of events as possible; don't leave things out. Request a reasonable short extension so that you and your worthwhile lab partner can complete the report yourselves.

Also be clear about your feelings about continuing to work with this student. You are not being at all unreasonable; keep a cool head, and if your instructor seems to think you should "man up" and give this guy another chance, consider taking your case to the dean. It is never a student's responsibility to resolve their classmate's academic misconduct; it is the school's responsibility. Your only responsibility is to your own conduct and studies.

It might be useful to look up the institution's policy about plagiarism beforehand. Whatever you do, don't turn in the report as-is, and don't just redo it yourself and ignore the plagiarism. If you try to hide things, this student will likely just put you in an even worse situation next time.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Eerors » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:59 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:don't just [...] ignore the plagiarism. If you try to hide things, this student will likely just put you in an even worse situation next time.


That is exactly what I was thinking. I was tempted to just re-do and submit and let it go. I have feeling many people would do that however I think that plagiarism (and his general attitude) should be dealt with. If I don't pursue this then it'll become someone else's problem.

I'm currently leaning towards submitting an introduction I penned and telling him to sort out his own mess however I have been up all night re-drafting his work so I don't trust my judgement at this time. Thus this forum posting...

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby SWGlassPit » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:38 pm UTC

I would talk to your professor before you do anything. Make it clear what you discovered, and (IMO) don't worry about writing a new introduction unless the professor specifically asks for it.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Low Caliber » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:35 am UTC

My suggestion is to just redo the introduction, but leave his name on it. Confront him personally about it afterwards and express to him what a ridiculously stupid thing to do it was, never to do it again, and perhaps see if their is a way to get out of doing the other lap project with him?

He is an utter jackass for plagiarizing especially since he is in a group, but generally I prefer not to fuck people over. If it is impossible to get out of working with him without revealing this to someone, then so be it, but it is in my view a better idea to do this with the least damage as possible. he probably won't like you much either way, but hopefully this way he wouldn't actually hate you.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby torontoraptor » Wed Dec 08, 2010 2:14 am UTC

My suggestion is to explain the situation to the professor, submit both the lab report with his introduction and a lab report with the introduction you wrote up, and let the plagiarizer deal with the consequences of plagiarizing.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:37 am UTC

Low Caliber wrote:My suggestion is to just redo the introduction, but leave his name on it. Confront him personally about it afterwards and express to him what a ridiculously stupid thing to do it was, never to do it again, and perhaps see if their is a way to get out of doing the other lap project with him?

He is an utter jackass for plagiarizing especially since he is in a group, but generally I prefer not to fuck people over. If it is impossible to get out of working with him without revealing this to someone, then so be it, but it is in my view a better idea to do this with the least damage as possible. he probably won't like you much either way, but hopefully this way he wouldn't actually hate you.


I agree with this guy. Everyone is quick to just say screw this guy, and maybe rightly so, but I would not feel comfortable knowing I played a part in potentially really fucking someone over, especially without confronting him first. That said, I would not sacrifice myself for this dick, and if the only way to get out of working with him is to let the professor know he plagiarized, then sucks for him.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Bakemaster » Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:05 am UTC

Low Caliber wrote:My suggestion is to just redo the introduction, but leave his name on it. Confront him personally about it afterwards and express to him what a ridiculously stupid thing to do it was, never to do it again, and perhaps see if their is a way to get out of doing the other lap project with him?

He is an utter jackass for plagiarizing especially since he is in a group, but generally I prefer not to fuck people over. If it is impossible to get out of working with him without revealing this to someone, then so be it, but it is in my view a better idea to do this with the least damage as possible. he probably won't like you much either way, but hopefully this way he wouldn't actually hate you.

I cannot emphasize enough what bad advice this is from an academic standpoint. By choosing to hide another student's plagiarism, you would be complicit in it. Many universities have a strict no-tolerance policy on this subject and as the paper has all three students' names on it, they are all responsible for the content of that paper.

This is not a case where the student has a choice about whether to take a side, nor is it a case of screwing someone over. The student who plagiarizes in a joint report has screwed himself over, and has made a decent attempt at dragging his lab partners down with him. This is a person who does not deserve either respect or protection; he has made his own bed to lie in, and there is no virtue in choosing to bail him out.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby yurell » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:49 pm UTC

Report your partner immediately. Otherwise you will be held complicit and you will answer for it also. The choice is to screw him over or go down with the ship - the worse that can possibly happen if you turn him in is you don't get an extension and you lose some marks. Getting marked with plagiarism on your permanent record, however, could be disastrous, not to mention the possibility of failing outright.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Low Caliber » Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:42 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:
Low Caliber wrote:I cannot emphasize enough what bad advice this is from an academic standpoint. By choosing to hide another student's plagiarism, you would be complicit in it. Many universities have a strict no-tolerance policy on this subject and as the paper has all three students' names on it, they are all responsible for the content of that paper.

you do realize I was not suggesting to submit the plagiarized assignment? It is not hiding it if it is never submitted, it is just a near disaster. if a plagiarized report is never handed in, one cannot be charged with plagiarism. if the original intro is already gone there is no harm in leaving his name on it for this one time. The OP may wish to remove his name, and/or report him, which would also work, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with handing in the remade lab report expect in the sense that the plagiarizer gets credit for work he did not in fact do. Incidentally this is just my take on it, and the OP should of course do whatever (s)he feels is right.

incidentally I apologize for the harsh reply, I really didn't mean for it to come out like that. I am not the best at writing and as such things have a tendency to come out rather too bluntly and rudely.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:38 pm UTC

If this was a first year undergraduate, I might be inclined to be a little more lenient...

For a post-graduate, this behaviour is totally inexcusable. Your lab partner should know better. If they're so cavalier about plagarism, how many times must they have gotten away with it? How many more times will they continue to do so until they're caught? Who will be harmed in the process? You have an obligation to report this. I would speak to your TA/professor, show them the plagarized material and the text it comes from. Explain what happened. Ask for an extention if you need one. Do not, under any circumstances, hand in the plagarized material; do not, under any circumstance, cover for this student by submitting a corrected report with their name on it. They don't deserve your charity.

Under the circumstances, I would also request to be reassigned on the other collaborative project you're working on.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby scarecrovv » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:26 pm UTC

Definitely:

  • Do write a new introduction.
  • Do request to not work with this person again.
  • Do NOT lie if asked why you don't want to work with this person again. You may be evasive if you want to, but answer directly if asked directly.

Possibly:

  • Leave his name off the report.
  • Give the explanation without being asked for why you do not want to work with this person again, and why his name is not on the report.
  • Confront him about it at some point of your choosing.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Bakemaster » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:54 am UTC

Low Caliber wrote:you do realize I was not suggesting to submit the plagiarized assignment?

I did realize that but not until after I had posted. Probably should have gone back and edited my reaction to be less harsh.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:00 am UTC

Yeah, you should absolutely tell your prof that you are concerned that his material looks too similar to the text. Worst case scenario for you, your prof says "Nah, it's original enough" and you look like a tattle. Big fucking deal. Best case scenario is your prof agrees, gives the kid a second chance, and grades the other portions of the work separately.

Keep in mind for certain things, it's quite easy to write what seems effectively like identical bodies of work. There are only so many ways to describe PCR, for example. Depending on the nature of the assignment, it's totally possible to produce a body of work that is nothing but copied and pasted lines, or heavily paraphrased copy and pasted lines, with appropriate references.

Of course, this is probably resolved by now.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Solt » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:39 pm UTC

I haven't had a prof that didn't say "If you find the answer online, it's fair game" or more recently, "I don't expect you to be as smart as Cauchy was!" But they do expect you, 100%, to cite it or it's considered cheating.

But I mean, he got the answer didn't he? Isn't that the point of science? If he's incompetent shouldn't that become apparent on other metrics, such as when he takes written exams? It's not really your job to root out his incompetence (if it exists). That's what the educational system is there for. Let the professors do their jobs, and you do yours in such a way that you suffer the least. Maybe that involves talking to the prof and asking for a different lab partner, but that probably doesn't require you to go out of your way to accuse someone of being a hack.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby broken_escalator » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:16 pm UTC

Although you probably already did whatever you chose to do, I would at the very least inform your good lab partner. He has a right to know and could help sort out what to do.

I probably wouldn't report plagiarism per se, but I would hand the paper to the professor and say it seemed wrong or off. Writing a 2nd one would suck but hopefully the professor would be lenient and if he agreed the first paper was bad maybe he would give you a small extension so you can write a quality paper instead of a rushed last minute paper.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Jahoclave » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:28 am UTC

Bakemaster wrote:
Low Caliber wrote:you do realize I was not suggesting to submit the plagiarized assignment?

I did realize that but not until after I had posted. Probably should have gone back and edited my reaction to be less harsh.

Even then, knowing about it and not reporting it can still get your ass in trouble if he ever does get caught and blabs about having done it in the past. As much as we'd like to be nice, he needs to report the dude. Say he gets something published that has plagiarism in it, that can fuck over the entire program in terms of respectability. Granted that's more of a problem at the professor level, but he's in grad school and reputations are actually at stake.

Also, I'm fairly certain that as a university your professor, even if he gives the student another chance, is required to report the incident to some sort of place on campus that deals with it. Annoying shit too, have to write memos and everything. Though, luckily my department has a form letter since freshman are pernicious little cheaters.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:12 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Even then, knowing about it and not reporting it can still get your ass in trouble if he ever does get caught and blabs about having done it in the past.
But he won't have actually "done it in the past" if this never gets handed in as his own work.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby BlackSails » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:54 pm UTC

If this were undergrad, I would say to just fix it and confront him. But you guys are grad students, and this sort of thing is wholly unacceptable. Turn him in, otherwise you can end up getting fucked.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Mr. Bakerstein wrote:
Low Caliber wrote:you do realize I was not suggesting to submit the plagiarized assignment?

I did realize that but not until after I had posted. Probably should have gone back and edited my reaction to be less harsh.

Even then, knowing about it and not reporting it can still get your ass in trouble if he ever does get caught and blabs about having done it in the past. As much as we'd like to be nice, he needs to report the dude. Say he gets something published that has plagiarism in it, that can fuck over the entire program in terms of respectability. Granted that's more of a problem at the professor level, but he's in grad school and reputations are actually at stake.

Also, I'm fairly certain that as a university your professor, even if he gives the student another chance, is required to report the incident to some sort of place on campus that deals with it. Annoying shit too, have to write memos and everything. Though, luckily my department has a form letter since freshman are pernicious little cheaters.


I just have two things to add;

1. I don't think you can be held responsible as an "accessory to plagiarizing" if someone you worked with gets caught for plagiarizing in the future. That's just pretty dumb and if you have been to any school that does this I am sorry. And yes, I know that handing in a group project where one person plagiarizes usually if not always ends with everyone getting plagiarized. IF he submits the work without editing the plagiarized part, and they go back and check, then yes, he could potentially get in trouble, but as long as his paper is edited to have no plagiarism in it, which is what everyone is suggesting he do, I honestly can't find any reason to punish him

2. There is this program that all of my engineering professors have used that i don't think is unique to my university. They simply enter the student's file to this program which goes in and sees if they plagiarized. They then have to go through and check that all the plagiarized bits are correctly cited. So if a professor is too lazy to check if its plagiarized himself and too lazy to do this test and just blindly submits what his students give him, I think his reputation is already at stake.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:54 pm UTC

Are you talking about turnitin.com? It's a fairly widely-used resource for that sort of thing.
BlackSails wrote:If this were undergrad, I would say to just fix it and confront him. But you guys are grad students, and this sort of thing is wholly unacceptable.

I have to agree that the issue is made far more serious by the fact that you're in grad school. He should know better and he's past the point in his education where he deserves training wheels and second chances.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby BlackSails » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:51 am UTC

Speaking of plagiarism, I once had a professor who told us a story of how a student plagiarized one of the professor's own books. He wasnt sure if he should fail him for cheating or give him an A for having good taste. (Obviously he failed him)

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby nehpest » Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:12 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:Speaking of plagiarism, I once had a professor who told us a story of how a student plagiarized one of the professor's own books. He wasnt sure if he should fail him for cheating or give him an A for having good taste. (Obviously he failed him)


I had a professor tell me that story once, too. I'm not sure if it really happened to her, or if it's just one of those hoary stories that educators like to spread around.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Dec 12, 2010 7:53 pm UTC

freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Mr. Bakerstein wrote:
Low Caliber wrote:you do realize I was not suggesting to submit the plagiarized assignment?

I did realize that but not until after I had posted. Probably should have gone back and edited my reaction to be less harsh.

Even then, knowing about it and not reporting it can still get your ass in trouble if he ever does get caught and blabs about having done it in the past. As much as we'd like to be nice, he needs to report the dude. Say he gets something published that has plagiarism in it, that can fuck over the entire program in terms of respectability. Granted that's more of a problem at the professor level, but he's in grad school and reputations are actually at stake.

Also, I'm fairly certain that as a university your professor, even if he gives the student another chance, is required to report the incident to some sort of place on campus that deals with it. Annoying shit too, have to write memos and everything. Though, luckily my department has a form letter since freshman are pernicious little cheaters.


I just have two things to add;

1. I don't think you can be held responsible as an "accessory to plagiarizing" if someone you worked with gets caught for plagiarizing in the future. That's just pretty dumb and if you have been to any school that does this I am sorry. And yes, I know that handing in a group project where one person plagiarizes usually if not always ends with everyone getting plagiarized. IF he submits the work without editing the plagiarized part, and they go back and check, then yes, he could potentially get in trouble, but as long as his paper is edited to have no plagiarism in it, which is what everyone is suggesting he do, I honestly can't find any reason to punish him

2. There is this program that all of my engineering professors have used that i don't think is unique to my university. They simply enter the student's file to this program which goes in and sees if they plagiarized. They then have to go through and check that all the plagiarized bits are correctly cited. So if a professor is too lazy to check if its plagiarized himself and too lazy to do this test and just blindly submits what his students give him, I think his reputation is already at stake.

1. You can. 2. He already turned it in to be part of the report. He was fully okay with that being submitted. And it would have been submitted had his fellow student not caught it. 3. He shouldn't be pulling this shit in grad school. I don't even accept this kind of crap from the freshman I teach.


Also, turn it in isn't a miracle program. It doesn't index books that I've ever seen--luckily freshman seem to be absolutely adverse to opening one. In fact, it's a quasi-legal setup given that it's violating copyright by storing all that content it has in its databases.

Edit: and if you don't turn him in, at least burn his parents' house down so that he knows you're not to be fucked with.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby hintss » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:49 am UTC

this reminds me of someone in a group project I had where he sent in his chunk of the powerpoint at 6AM the day it was due. it had to be emailed in by 8AM.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:38 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Mr. Bakerstein wrote:
Low Caliber wrote:you do realize I was not suggesting to submit the plagiarized assignment?

I did realize that but not until after I had posted. Probably should have gone back and edited my reaction to be less harsh.

Even then, knowing about it and not reporting it can still get your ass in trouble if he ever does get caught and blabs about having done it in the past. As much as we'd like to be nice, he needs to report the dude. Say he gets something published that has plagiarism in it, that can fuck over the entire program in terms of respectability. Granted that's more of a problem at the professor level, but he's in grad school and reputations are actually at stake.

Also, I'm fairly certain that as a university your professor, even if he gives the student another chance, is required to report the incident to some sort of place on campus that deals with it. Annoying shit too, have to write memos and everything. Though, luckily my department has a form letter since freshman are pernicious little cheaters.


I just have two things to add;

1. I don't think you can be held responsible as an "accessory to plagiarizing" if someone you worked with gets caught for plagiarizing in the future. That's just pretty dumb and if you have been to any school that does this I am sorry. And yes, I know that handing in a group project where one person plagiarizes usually if not always ends with everyone getting plagiarized. IF he submits the work without editing the plagiarized part, and they go back and check, then yes, he could potentially get in trouble, but as long as his paper is edited to have no plagiarism in it, which is what everyone is suggesting he do, I honestly can't find any reason to punish him

2. There is this program that all of my engineering professors have used that i don't think is unique to my university. They simply enter the student's file to this program which goes in and sees if they plagiarized. They then have to go through and check that all the plagiarized bits are correctly cited. So if a professor is too lazy to check if its plagiarized himself and too lazy to do this test and just blindly submits what his students give him, I think his reputation is already at stake.

1. You can. 2. He already turned it in to be part of the report. He was fully okay with that being submitted. And it would have been submitted had his fellow student not caught it. 3. He shouldn't be pulling this shit in grad school. I don't even accept this kind of crap from the freshman I teach.


Also, turn it in isn't a miracle program. It doesn't index books that I've ever seen--luckily freshman seem to be absolutely adverse to opening one. In fact, it's a quasi-legal setup given that it's violating copyright by storing all that content it has in its databases.

Edit: and if you don't turn him in, at least burn his parents' house down so that he knows you're not to be fucked with.



I'm going to have to argue against that, at least at my university. I read my student manual and no where did it say that if I failed to report a student for plagiarizing I would be punished. Now if he handed it in for a group setting, yes, I would suffer, but if he or I changed what he plagiarized so that the work was properly cited or original and he went to plagiarize on his own for some other project, there is no way I see myself being held responsible. IT may change from school to school, but I still defend my point that a student can not be blamed for another student plagiarizing on a separate work.

Also, some classes use turnitin.com but we had to utilize that and another program. However, the last time I had to submit a work through this program was three years ago so I apologize that I can't think of what it was.

I also agree that he should burn down his parents house, one of the best course of actions for this problem.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby darkspork » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:44 am UTC

DO NOT hand in the plagiarized work. As I see it, you have two options:

1) Fix it. Confront the student. Inform him that he now owes you big for correcting his mistake and that you will not hesitate to throw him under the train if he does it again.
2) Ask the professor for an extension and ask not to work with this student again. If asked, mention the fact that he's not doing his work. Mention the plagiarism only if that isn't enough. It's only tattling when it doesn't have an adverse effect on you. "TEEEACHER! JOHNNY'S CHEEEEEEATING!" is tattling. "John isn't pulling his weight on this project, and I would rather not work with him again. I am also suspicious of his academic honesty, which will reflect poorly on me." is not. I could understand if it were a copied sentence, phrase, or something else like that, but to make your whole contribution a copy+paste job is inexcusable past high school.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby googlyeyesultra » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:57 pm UTC

Frankly this sort of behavior is inexcusable even in, say, senior year of high school. In grad school? Unfathomable.

Turn him in. This is not going to be the last time he cheats, nor has it been the first time. You are not going to help him by confronting him without any serious penalties attached. If you do so, he will likely apologize, offer excuses ("I'm so sorry, I was really really busy. . .") and then do it again the next time. He's also at that point ripped off a lot of content from a lot of people, I'd imagine. Teachers need to know about this plagiarism so that they can check over his past works and see to what degree he's plagiarized there.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby firechicago » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:31 pm UTC

The fact that this is grad school makes a huge difference, and it's not just because they should know better by now. If this were a freshman biology class and a student were dishonest, it would reflect badly on the student, but probably wouldn't have any broader consequences. After all, if a student is desperate enough to cheat, they're probably not going to be going into a career that involves using biology. For a masters student that's no longer the case. Presumably they intend to use this masters to work in a biological field, and what will happen the first time they do a test or experiment and the results aren't what they want or expect?

Knowing what you know now, would you want to take a drug designed or manufactured by this person?

Would you want to do research that relied on results that this person achieved?

By turning them in, you're not just covering your own ass and screwing someone who tried to screw you, you're protecting everyone who might ever work with this person and be hurt by their dishonesty.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby achan1058 » Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:59 pm UTC

darkspork wrote:2) Ask the professor for an extension and ask not to work with this student again. If asked, mention the fact that he's not doing his work. Mention the plagiarism only if that isn't enough. It's only tattling when it doesn't have an adverse effect on you. "TEEEACHER! JOHNNY'S CHEEEEEEATING!" is tattling. "John isn't pulling his weight on this project, and I would rather not work with him again. I am also suspicious of his academic honesty, which will reflect poorly on me." is not. I could understand if it were a copied sentence, phrase, or something else like that, but to make your whole contribution a copy+paste job is inexcusable past high school.
There's nothing wrong with tattling.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby ImagingGeek » Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:49 pm UTC

I am probably too late for this, but here is my advice. And for the record I am a working biologist (immunologist/cell biologist/microscopist) who teaches both undergrad and grad-level courses. I've even dealt with this very issue - i.e. a student reporting to be that she suspected her partner had plagiarised a portion of their joint project.

First of all, plagiarism (aka academic misconduct) is a very serious problem. At the graduate level this can be a career-killer. I have turned down applicants to my lab who were otherwise excellent, but who had been caught plagiarising in the past. I am not unique in this; this is the norm in the field. Furthermore, and as has already been pointed out, your university most likely has a very strong policy against plagiarism. I cannot think of one real university that doesn't, and even the pretend ones like liberty have the rule on the books. The standard punishment for plagiarism is expulsion, even mild rebukes generally result in some sort of reprimand that goes onto your academic record. Both are bad, and both will cost you jobs.

What you should do is simple:
1) Report the suspected plagiarism to your instructor immediately and without delay.
2) At the same time offer the project as it stands, with the parts you and the other non-plagiarising partner well marked. Your instructor is in a position to best decide what to do - (s)he may simply decide to mark you and your non-cheating partner on the material you produced.
3) While not necessary, copies of the papers the material was plagiarised from should be provided. At a minimum you will have to provide the references to the plagiarised material.

I would also strongly advise against confronting your partner beforehand. For three reasons; firstly, as a student it is not your responsibility. Secondly, your university may have policies in place meant to protect you (the whistleblower) which you would be violating by confronting the plagiariser. And finally, it could get you into hot water - both because it could be construed as you trying to help hide a case of academic misconduct, but also because it gives the plagiariser a chance to prepare a defence - a defence which most likely will involve blaming you.

My last piece of advice is to keep a copy of every bit of evidence you give your instructor. While unlikely, there is the possibility that they (either the instructor or the admin) may try to nail you alongside your plagiarising partner. By keeping this evidence you will be in a strong position, should you become embroiled in a conflict with the academic conduct office (or whatever it is called in your uni).

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Darryl » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:33 am UTC

freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen wrote:I agree with this guy. Everyone is quick to just say screw this guy, and maybe rightly so, but I would not feel comfortable knowing I played a part in potentially really fucking someone over, especially without confronting him first.

Except you aren't sending this guy up the creek. He's the one who sent himself up the creek, you're the one not giving a hand to the guy with a knife in his other. Because if that plagiarism had not been caught, it's very likely the whole group would have been in serious trouble for plagiarism. He didn't just set himself up for failure, he nearly took (3? 4?) others with him. He deserves all the hell he's about to catch. (The plagiarizer, natch)
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby scarecrovv » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:46 am UTC

I'm shocked that I have to necro this thread, but I need some advice. 3 other undergrads and I are in a group in a lab class, building some robots and stuff. We just completed an assignment where we individually think up and write about a design for a robot. Later in the semester we will agree on a design for the robot, actually build it together, and then write about it together.

We posted our individual papers (as pdfs) to a class wiki. The problem is that his paper is was approximately half plagarized. Blatantly so. Multiple paragraphs and images are copied from wikipedia and at least one scholarly paper on the subject. Some of the sources are listed as references at the end of the paper, but the only way to tell whether a particular sentence is composed of his words or someone else's is was by googling sentences. As I was writing this paragraph he replied to my email (which contained links to our university's academic integrity webpage) about this thanking me for my advice and posted a revised version of his paper with quotes around half the paragraphs and more appropriate citations to various places. Which is a good thing, I suppose, but I still have some concerns I thought I'd bounce off you folks.

He's a visiting student from India, and it's possible that he was simply unfamilliar with western standards for original work (his reply email asked me for future guidance in matters like this). Maybe he'll do it right in the future and there will be no problem. However, I'm concerned that he might not, and I'm now worried about attaching my name to a document that has his work in it (there will be group writing assignments in the future), just in case I don't catch it next time. We've done some group writing already, but that took place directly on the class wiki, so at least there is a record of who wrote what. Also, we've been committing things to an SVN repository with a shared username and password for the group, but that's mostly been code and other highly assignment specific stuff, so plagarism seems unlikely there.

At the moment, everything seems sort of ok, and there's no evidence of clear malicious intent. I'm just shaken. So far the conversation on this has been confined to private email between the two of us, and now this thread. Is there anything further I should do? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Andromeda321 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:38 am UTC

I guarantee your university has a writing center where students like this can go to learn a few lessons on how to cite things properly etc, and if this guy is sincere in wanting to do well as you say I'm sure he wouldn't mind spending an hour or two there learning the Western standards. Why not refer him to there? Because the problem with the current system IMO is if the guy did get caught and claims you "knew" about the issue you might get dragged into it.

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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:19 pm UTC

You might also benefit from explaining the situation to the professor, so there is some kind of record of this in case it gets worse. You can easily point out how it could have been a mistake, and show how the student immediately both rectified his error and asked for assistance in ensuring it didn't happen again, so you won't be throwing him under the bus, so to speak.

But protecting yourself here could be a very good thing.
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Re: My lab-mate plagiarised. What do I do?

Postby Parsifal » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:45 pm UTC

Given that it is now a new semester, this won't matter to OP but for the benefit of anyone else pondering a similar quandary:

This isn't a choice you need to worry about. Most schools make you sign an academic honestly policy. If you know your lab-mate plagiarized, you are probably *obligated* to tell the professor, who most likely has to turn it over to an independent committee for investigation.


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