FOR MANY university students, scanning the web before completing homework and copying ideas from blogs or other papers is not a big deal. However, plagiarism in academia has become a bigger and bigger issue with the increasing significance of copyright. Professors who plagiarize other thesis are disgraced and dismissed from school. Students who copy the work of others are also punished with a failing grade on the report or in the class. Then, how do Yonseians feel about this sensitive issue?
Won In-sub (Soph., Dept. of Business Admin.)
We do not receive any education on plagiarism here at Yonsei. My professors never mention plagiarism at all. However, when I was at Chung-Ang University, the writing class included a discussion about plagiarism. There, I was taught about what plagiarism was and how to cite sources. Additionally, I heard that some countries like the United States have machines that compare reports to one another and calculate the percentage of similar phrases. If such a machine were available, the Yonsei professors would find it easier to catch plagiarism. Currently, the professors, though well aware of what is going on, do not have the time and resources necessary to find solid confirmation of plagiarism. They have to grade a lot of papers, so they cannot go through every paper suspected of plagiarism to find the evidence.
Lee In-young (Senior Researcher, Center for Educational Development and Services)
In Yonsei's required writing classes, much emphasis is put on the importance of not plagiarizing. Nowadays, students are asked to include a pledge on the first page of their papers stating they did not plagiarize. However, there are no rules against plagiarism although the school authorities regard plagiarism as a serious problem. Therefore, we are planning to use the "plagiarism search system," a computer program, perhaps as early as this semester. However, the more important aspect of the problem is the general attitude concerning plagiarism. Students, if caught, do not repent but think they are unlucky since everyone plagiarizes. Many professors do not punish the students harshly, thinking that penalizing an individual is not going to make much difference. Additionally, most students are used to utilizing the information on the web, since they have been doing this in junior high and high school. This demonstrates our educational system's failure to encourage individual development of the students. At Yonsei, we do what we can within our institution to prevent plagiarism.
Kim Soo-hyun (Sr., Dept. of Communication)
A lot of students plagiarize on their papers by downloading reports or copying and pasting off of blogs. Using these sources as references is not plagiarism but using the same words definitely is a serious problem. The education on such matter is lacking and the professors say not to do it, but they do not take much action against it. I went to an international high school in Shanghai that actively educated students and campaigned against plagiarism. There were computer programs that could compare reports and find out how similar one is to another. Recently, Koreans are more aware of the problem of plagiarism due to the publicized incidents, even though the education is still lacking. Though it is impossible to prevent students from plagiarizing, we should at least try to enhance the awareness about the issue.
Vu Ngoc Thuy (Jr., UIC, Dept. of Econ.)
Before I came to Yonsei, I studied in Vietnam, a place with absolutely no awareness of theconcept of plagiarism. The biggest warning the students get against plagiarism is "do not copy your friends' work" and everyone uses the information on the web. I had not thought about the issue very much either until I came here. However, the Yonsei professors were more adamant on the issue. For example, in my writing tutorial class, the first thing that my professor said to the class was "I'll give you an F in the class if you plagiarize." Since I had never learned about basic rules such as citing sources for a report, I panicked with my first paper, worrying that I might use ideas of others unintentionally. Now, I have gotten used to citing sources and think that not plagiarizing is a significant part of academia. Yet it still happens because professors do not have the time to check all the papers carefully, so making sure people understand that plagiarism is morally wrong is important.
Kelly Walsh (Prof., UIC, Comparative Lit. & Culture)
In the United States, where I am from, plagiarism results in not only failing the class but a serious academic warning, which may even cause the expulsion of a student. Presenting the ideas of others as your own is an intellectually dishonest act, and I personally make sure to explain my policy on plagiarism at the beginning of the semester. But above all, I think there should be more of an emphasis on critical thinking in high school education. In Korea, students seem to be more focused on cramming and getting the right answer to reproduce on an exam rather than developing creativity. American students are asked more often to formulate original ideas and support them without using references as a guideline. Plagiarizing is more than a matter of theft. For me, as a scholar, it is a matter of integrity and honor. It is always more honorable to fail on your own than to get an A with someone else's idea.