Submitted by: Roger Stallings
Humanities Department Faculty
For those of you that use Safe Assign to check for plagiarism or other academic honesty issues, beware! I had a situation occur during the fall 2011 semester. I submitted a student paper and the Safe Assign report found the student’s work to be 93% plagiarized. I am glad that I did some investigation before accusing the student of academic dishonesty.
I could not figure out why a paper that had such specific sentences as, “I attended the College of the Mainland production of The 39 Steps on September 16, 2011,” would come back reported as 100% plagiarized. I asked Margaret Cussen to help me track down the source of the plagiarism. What she discovered was that the student posted her own paper in Yahoo asking readers to help her by reviewing for grammar/punctuation errors. I have no issue with that as an instructor. Safe Assign, however, picked up on the internet posting and determined that the submitted paper was plagiarized since it found the article in Yahoo. So the student was reported for plagiarizing her own work.
This situation gave me pause to think. If I came so close to accusing a student, other instructors might find themselves facing a similar situation. Beware!