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Stronger Disciplinary Actions for Plagiarism

Posted May. 25, 2007 03:12,   


Along with the increasing number of university professors who strictly discipline students who plagiarize, it has been confirmed that Seoul National University (SNU) professors have recently taken disciplinary actions against a number of students who submitted papers that were plagiarized.

Some professors requested students who were suspected of plagiarism to take a retest while some requested administrative action on the part of the university. The measures professors are taking to stop plagiarism are becoming stronger.

Seoul National University is also taking university-wide measures such as providing standards for plagiarism. Dean Kim Wan-jin of the Office of Academic Affairs emphasized these efforts, saying, “We are preparing guidelines to prevent student plagiarism and to set the standards for plagiarism. We are hoping to raise the overall level of awareness about plagiarism.”

Plagiarizing Papers Could Result in Expulsion –

Dean Yi Tae-jin of the College of Humanities (Korean History faculty) gave out warnings to 10 of the 120 students who took his “New Perspectives on Korean Cultural History” course, which is a required Liberal Arts course for freshmen. The reason for the warnings was plagiarism.

Of these 10, seven were given C’s or D’s for their midterm grades. Three students who had committed severe plagiarism were given an F grade and notified that they would no longer be permitted to participate in the class.

Professor Yi also requested that the two colleges in which the three students were affiliated take administrative action regarding the plagiarism of these students. Two of the three students are from the College of Music, and one is from the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Actions the individual colleges can take include an essay reflecting one’s conduct, a disciplinary period, suspension, and expulsion.

Dean Yi explained, “Seven students submitted a patchwork-paper created by copying and pasting other people’s dissertations, while three students purchased papers that students had submitted last semester from an Internet website and submitted them exactly as they were.”

The paper was on “The Effect of External Forces on the History of Mankind,” and Dean Yi had his assistant pick out papers that seemed suspicious and ran them through search engines to see if they had been plagiarized.

Dean Yi said, “Professors have punished students by giving low grades, but this is the first time disciplinary action has been taken in such a public manner. There is a widespread feeling among professors that punishment for plagiarism should be stronger.”

SNU students are interpreting the fact that plagiarism was strongly punished by Dean Yi even in a freshman class as an effort to show them that plagiarism is a crime that must not be committed by people in the scholarly world.

Dean Shin Soo-jung of the College of Music, where two of the students in question are affiliated, announced, “The specifics of the disciplinary action will be decided by discussing the matter with other professors. A decision will be made by the end of this semester.”

Plagiarism Guidelines Expected to Become More Strict –

Dean Yi is not the only person putting their foot down on plagiarism. Professor Lee Chul-hee of the Department of Economics cut the grades of four students who plagiarized in his “Economic History” course this semester.

Professor Park Jong-so of the Department of Russian Language and Literature gave warnings to several students who copied and pasted Internet sources for his “Dostoevsky and Tolstoy” course. Professor Lee’s course is a required major course for sophomores, and Professor Park’s course is a liberal arts course that is mandatory for freshmen.

According to Professor Lee, “The students were told to submit a movie review related to the course, and some students plagiarized. The plagiarized papers were not given a score and the students were told to resubmit the papers. If it was something big, like a final paper, I would have taken much sterner action.”

In some cases, students who were suspected of plagiarism were requested to retake the test. Professor Kim Myung-hwan of the Department of English Language and Literature explained, “If a student is suspected of plagiarism, but substantial evidence is not found, then the student is requested to take an oral examination.”

Mentioning the case at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where nine Asian MBA students, including Korean students, were expelled for plagiarism, Dean Yi viewed that, “It is highly probable that not only SNU but other Korean universities will soon take stronger actions to punish plagiarism like in the U.S.”

surono@donga.com achim@donga.com