Case Study 4 TMI

Case Title:

Case Study 4 TMI

Case Study Publish Date:


Summary of the Case:

When is too much information a red flag for possible academic misconduct? Maybe when it is 62 pages long for an assignment that was supposed to be 4-6 pages?

Text of the Case:

Violation Report
The student turned in a paper that was 62 pages long with over 43% similarity on The assignment was to be 4-6 pages. The reporter spoke with another faculty member about the situation and how they would grade a paper like this. The faculty member stated they had a paper that long submitted for one of their classes as well. Long story short the reporter discovered that the student plagiarized 43% of their paper and turned it in for two different courses.
Investigators’ Summary
The reporter (hereafter R) taught SPMT 685 and required that for one assignment students would be required to write a 4-6 paper, or at least 1200 words. The Alleged Violator (AV) turned in a paper of over 60 pages and more than 17000 words. When R approached a faculty member to ask advice, they quickly figured out that the AV had submitted essentially the same paper for two different classes. When ran through the AV’s paper came back with 43% similarity and noted that four pages were flagged as essentially the same as a single reference. These four pages did not receive proper citation, although the AV did use indentation elsewhere in the paper when he was quoting from a reference. R also pointed out that a statement concerning plagiarism is in the syllabus, along with a statement of academic integrity, although nothing is specifically stated concerning multiple submissions.
The paper in question is worth 50% of the course grade.
The AV acknowledges that a paper over 60 pages long was submitted to two separate classes and the AV states that it was unknown that multiple submissions were not allowed. The AV also acknowledges being enrolled in the other class where the paper was submitted. The AV denies that there was any coverage of plagiarism or multiple submissions of papers in the courses. The AV acknowledged that a significant portion of the submitted paper was taken directly from one of the sources, but states that it is not plagiarism because it was cited. The AV claims that the intention of coping was not to display the work as the AV’s own, rather to get across an important argument.
The AV states that the syllabus requirement for SPMT 685 research paper was “4-6 pages or at least 1200 words.” The AV submitted a substantially longer report because it was “at least 1200 words,” which does not violate the requirement laid out in the syllabus. The AV felt that by spending more time on the report, it would show the professor respect due to the time and effort spend on the project.
Ultimately, the AV does not believe that it was a violation to turn in the same paper for two different assignments and that he did not plagiarize.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What additional information would you need to make a decision in this case?
  • Would you find this AV responsible for academic misconduct? Why or why not?

Additional Commentary:

Sanctions Phase
After finding the AV responsible for academic misconduct the following information was given to the members of the hearing panel:
  1. This is the AV’s second offense.
    1. The AV was found previously responsible for academic misconduct (plagiarism of a graduate level research paper).
    2. The professor handled the case autonomously and issued a zero for the assignment.
  2. The student is an international student, and is receiving an academic scholarship based on academic success.
Actual Sanctions
  1. The AV received an F* in both classes where the paper was submitted.
  2. The AV appealed his sanction, but no warrant was found to proceed with an appeals hearing.