Wake Ware Laptop Program, Survey, and a Note About Plagiarism

Three things to cover today in the Daily Deac.  While this tidbit may be of more interest to our P’20s, this is a program that is open to others too.  New students were sent information about the Wake Ware laptop program last week.  A copy of that email is online here.

Important notes:

  • Last day to order to ensure your laptop arrives in time for school is August 1
  • Apple’s Summer special is buy any Mac and get Beats wireless headphones. This offer lasts until September 5th.

Second point to mention: parents and family members of rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors (for whom we have valid email addresses) were sent an email survey this morning; I believe the subject line read Engaging Wake Forest Families | 3 Minute Survey.  If you received this, it would be an enormous help to our office – and to me personally – if you would take the time to fill it out.  We are trying hard to up our game in the ways we support Wake Forest families and engage you in the life of WFU, so we need to better understand families’ feedback.  If you did not receive it, check your spam filter or junk mail folder, as sometimes official WFU emails get routed there.

Our final topic of the day is relevant to all families, I hope.  The topic of plagiarism has been in the news this week.  I don’t share that to make any kind of political statement – we try to be as apolitical at the Daily Deac as possible.  But I share it to raise the issue of how plagiarism is viewed in college settings.  It is very serious.  And plagiarism is often misunderstood – some people in non-academic settings may think that plagiarism is a full scale copying of an entire paper – but that is not necssarily the case.  It can be a part of a paper or a website – a few sentences, a paragraph or two – the key is that one has not credited the original source.

Our most recent Student Code of Conduct says this about plagiarism:

“Plagiarism” is a type of cheating. It includes: (a) the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without complete acknowledgment of the source; (b) the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another agency or person providing term papers or other academic materials; (c) the non-attributed use of any portion of a computer algorithm or data file; or (d) the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of online material without complete acknowledgment of the source. When faced with conflicting definitions of plagiarism during a case, the Honor and Ethics Council will adopt the definition established for use in the department/course by the department or professor involved in the case.

The ZSR Library has a tutorial on plagiarism that is well worth your students’ while.  New students will also have to attend an Orientation session on honor and integrity and will have to complete an online quiz afterwards.

And here’s a tidbit from a past article we wrote on academic integrity, to set the scene for why plagiarism in college settings is taken so seriously.  Again, this is not a political statement about any current candidate – I include this because plagiarism is in the news – and we want your students to avoid running afoul of the Honor System.

Unless you work in higher education, sometimes it’s hard to understand why plagiarism is such a serious issue to universities.  It’s just forgetting a citation, right?

Imagine for a moment that you are an inventor and you invented a wonderful new app for smartphones – something totally new and unlike any app other on the market and it is going to be The Next Big Thing.   Imagine you showed your app to some of your colleagues – who then stole the design, marketed it as their own, sold it and profited from it.  It was your invention, but your colleagues stole it, then took all the credit and the benefits that came with it.  You would likely call it theft.

Though some professors – particularly on the medical or technical side – deal in the creation of tangible products, many academics don’t create tangible products but rather ideas.  Fear of “idea theft” led to the creation of intellectual property and copyright laws.  Academics take “idea theft” or “plagiarism”  extremely seriously and work hard to help students understand that ideas are not free “commodities” that anyone can claim.  It’s important to reference where those ideas have come from and to whom the credit is due:

Reputations in academia are made on the basis of creating new knowledge: discoveries of new facts, new ways of looking at previously known facts, original analysis of old ideas ….

A plagiarist receives credit for expression or analysis that was improperly taken from someone else.  In this view, the plagiarist commits fraud, by claiming the work of other people as the plagiarist’s own work….

Respect for these academic values is also reflected in licensing for professions (particularly law and medicine), employment on the basis of academic credentials, and esteem from one’s colleagues.”

(From “Plagiarism in Colleges in USA,” Copyright 2000 by Ronald B. Standler)

Professors’ academic reputations and employment opportunities are created via the ideas and knowledge they generate.  Faculty members have worked hard to acquire their knowledge, with years of rigorous study and discipline.  If a student takes another person’s idea and uses it as their own (whether that person is a faculty member, an online source, or another student), it is essentially stealing that person’s idea – just as the people in our earlier example stole the recipe for the new soft drink the inventor created.

That is why plagiarism is taken so seriously in college.  Always, always, always cite your sources appropriately.  ZSR makes it easy for you because it has a Cite a Source section of its website for help.  And your students should check out Zotero, which is an online reference and citation program that makes research paper citations and bibliographies about a billion times easier.

— by Betsy Chapman

Categories: campus life