Graduate Student Research Misconduct: Plagiarism

The Critical Role of Graduate Research

If you are a graduate student in any college or university program, then chances are very good that you are performing or will soon be performing substantial research. Research is a key part of both the graduate student's education and the school's public-benefit mission. Research teaches graduate students how to discover, analyze, organize, and present new knowledge. Those skills are critical to success in every field, including for employment, productivity, and advancement. Research also benefits society, increasing health, safety, security, and flourishing through new attitudes, methods, means, goods, and services. As hard as research is for the graduate student, take heart. You are doing important work for both your own development and the benefit of your community. Keep at it.

The Significance of Research Integrity

Like anything, though, research has its customs and conventions. College and university researchers follow practices that ensure that the research has integrity. Research integrity accomplishes two things. First, it ensures that the graduate student claiming academic credit for the work deserves that credit. Education tries to shape student behavior into persistent patterns for the student's good and the good of society. Graduate education tries to teach students how to do research that is honest, sound, and reliable. If the graduate student isn't learning those practices of integrity, then the student shouldn't get the credit to graduate. But research integrity also serves the institution and society. Businesses, nonprofits, government, and others depend on published bodies of new and stimulating academic research to improve their processes. If the research isn't honest, sound, and reliable, society shouldn't be supporting the college or university. Your graduate research must have integrity for both you and your school. Don't fight the customs and conventions that ensure integrity. Instead, follow them.

The Risk of Plagiarism in Graduate Research

One of the strongest conventions to preserve integrity in graduate research is to give credit where credit is due, meaning not to steal another's ideas by misrepresenting them as your own. Plagiarism, as colleges and universities uniformly call and define it, undermines the school's teaching and learning process. Graduate students who steal others' ideas rather than generating their own aren't learning the research skills the school is teaching and assessing. Plagiarizing students are trying to get academic credit where no credit is due. Plagiarism also destroys the integrity of the published research base. Those who read and use plagiarized research trust and credit the plagiarizer when the plagiarizer hasn't created the research and hasn't shown that skill. The plagiarizer gets on in the field with jobs, assignments, grants, and other advancements, not by discipline and skill but by cheating. Plagiarism, copying another's idea while claiming it's your own, is easy. Plagiarism tempts graduate students at every turn, all the time. But plagiarism is wrong, undermining everything for which the student and institution stand.

Research Conduct Codes Prohibit Plagiarism

Don't plagiarize in graduate research. Not only does plagiarism undermine everything you are trying to achieve in graduate school, but plagiarism also places the student at risk of dismissal from the school. When you are doing graduate-level research in a college or university program, no matter the program's nature, you had better not be committing plagiarism. Colleges and universities uniformly condemn and prohibit plagiarism in their academic conduct codes. Ohio State University is a good example. Ohio State maintains a separate Research Misconduct Policy, above and beyond its other academic conduct code. Ohio State's Research Misconduct Policy firmly prohibits plagiarism, defining it as “[t]he appropriation of the ideas, processes, results, or words of another person, without giving appropriate credit.” Ohio State's research policy authorizes school officials to take corrective actions such as “counseling, participation in training programs, development of a data management plan, or oversight of research.” But Ohio State's research policy also warns that violations can result in the student's dismissal from the school. Colleges and universities treat plagiarism seriously.

Graduate Research Plagiarism Misconduct Procedures

If school officials suspect that you have committed plagiarism in graduate research, they will follow school procedures to bring that charge against you. Ohio State University's Research Misconduct Policy, for instance, includes elaborate procedures for filing, investigating, and determining research misconduct and for imposing appropriate sanctions. School research misconduct procedures should provide you with due process. The school's procedures, whether published like Ohio State University's Research Misconduct Policy or unpublished and informal, will very likely require that the school tell you exactly what it suspects you have done wrong. The school's procedures should also give you an opportunity to respond. That opportunity may be an interview, written submission, or a full formal hearing where you and other witnesses may testify. If you face graduate research plagiarism charges, you should have a fair chance to respond to explain what happened and avoid or mitigate sanctions.

How to Respond to Graduate Research Plagiarism Charges

While you'll have a chance to respond to graduate research plagiarism charges, your response won't be easy. Don't assume that your school will accept your explanation, especially if it includes admissions of plagiarizing along with weak excuses. Instead, promptly retain a skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney to assist you before you respond to the plagiarism charges. Retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm‘s academic misconduct defense team. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of college and university students nationwide defend and defeat academic misconduct charges, including plagiarism charges. Don't let your education go to waste. Get the skilled academic administrative attorney help you need. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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