Academic Thievery â€“ Never Worth the Risk
By Dr. Robert Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University
“You dare use my own spell against me?!?” – Professor Snape to Harry Potter from The Half-Blood Prince
One of the unwritten requirements of being an instructor is to stay current on how students cheat. As such, I have watched plenty of videos about how students can cheat and reviewed many assignment checkers and websites that sell student papers.
However helpful all these tools are, the easiest way to catch academic thievery is through simple comparison. Everyone writes differently and so the moment an assignment does not match other writing samples that students have done makes me give their work a closer look. This closer look means giving it greater scrutiny that often leads to more questions about the paper.
Another way to detect academic thievery is when a paper is just too well written. When an undergraduate student turns in a paper that starts using post-doctoral jargon, it becomes clear that the paper is not the work of the student.
References also often give students away. When a student references books that are not available online, it causes me to ask more about where those sources came from. Broken links are also red flags because if the link in the paper does not work, how did the student find the information?
I remember one senior at a school I was teaching at posting to social media that they had worked so hard for four years that they felt that they earned a vacation from schoolwork. He stated that he had purchased an academic paper and turned it in, fully expecting an A. That student was caught by the university and was not allowed to graduate.
The lesson here is clear; never use someone else’s work, ever. As the saying goes, “if you did not write it, you better cite it.”
If you use someone else’s work as your own, you are likely going to be caught and there will be consequences. One can face expulsion from the university, leaving you with student debt and no degree to show for your effort.
Here is one final word of advice. If you find yourself behind in a class and tempted to take a shortcut, it is better to contact your professor and discuss an extension or other options. It is likely that your instructor has some flexibility to work something out to allow you to complete the course work.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is the program director for the Reverse Logistics Management department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over 25 years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. Dr. Gordon earned his Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA.