Discipline: An Academic Dean’s Perspective on Dealing with Plagiarism
Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, Vol. 2004, pp. 441-448
8 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2009
Date Written: August, 26 2009
Three months after I was convinced by our very persuasive Dean that, contrary to my first thought, being an Associate Academic Dean was not such a dumb idea, I was confronted with a situation that reinforced my initial impression. On my desk sat a paper submitted by a student in a law school course. More than one-half of the paper was copied word for word without any attribution being given. Dozens of other lines contained material that should have been included in quotation marks, but was not. Some of the material quoted without attribution came from sources cited in other portions of the paper, some from sources that were never cited at all. Further investigation revealed a similar pattern in another paper written by the same student.
Unfortunately, over the years, I have come to conclude that such problems are not a once-in-a-tenure experience for academic deans and others who deal with plagiarism problems in law school. While this case is the most extreme case of plagiarism I have encountered in my nearly five years as Academic Dean, it is not the only one. Although each case is unique, all involve difficult questions because plagiarism is, as one scholar has observed, "an academic capital offense, punishable by academic death." With so much on the line, how should Academic Deans proceed once it is clear that plagiarism has occurred?
Keywords: Plagiarism, academic discipline, legal education, honesty, ethics, law students, law school administration
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