News

A Plagiarized Honor Code? Oops.

March 31, 2008

Students trying to set up an honor code at the University of Texas at San Antonio may have unintentionally done what they set out to prevent: They lifted whole passages from other documents without credit.

Even the draft document’s definition of plagiarism was plagiarized, tracking nearly identically a section of the honor code at Brigham Young University.

For example, the draft honor code at San Antonio defines: Inadvertent Plagiarism. Inadvertent plagiarism involves the inappropriate, but nondeliberate, use of another’s words, ideas, or data without appropriate attribution, failure to follow established rules for documenting sources or from being insufficiently careful in research and writing.

Brigham Young’s honor code includes a similar definition: Inadvertent Plagiarism: Inadvertent plagiarism involves the inappropriate, but nondeliberate, use of another’s words, ideas, or data without proper attribution. Inadvertent plagiarism usually results from an ignorant failure to follow established rules for documenting sources or from simply being insufficiently careful in research and writing.

Akshay Thusu, the student who inherited the effort to draft an honor code, told the San Antonio Express-News that the draft was probably adapted from materials at a 2003 conference organized by the Center for Academic Integrity, and that the online draft may be missing its citation page.

Mr. Thusu assured the Express-News, which first reported the ironic copy-and-paste job, that the final document would be properly cited: “We don’t want to have an honor code that is stolen,” he said. —JJ Hermes