Delta State University
SOC 101: Principles of Sociology
Spring Semester 2007


During your time at Delta State University, you are expected to behave in an ethical manner and comply with all academic standards as defined in the DSU Bulletin and Handbook.  You are expected to do your own work, and any form of cheating or academic dishonesty will NOT be tolerated.

Cheating includes attempting to copy the work of others on exams and quizzes; conspiring with other students to receive assistance during exams and quizzes; altering or falsifying course documents; representing the work of others as your own; or other dishonest acts that would give the student an unfair advantage or would falsely influence the student's grade on any assignment or activity.

The best policy to follow is to do your own work and to treat the instructor and other students in an open and honest manner.

What is Plagiarism?


Plagiarism is appropriating the work of others and representing it as your own.  This is considered a serious violation of ethical standards in academic settings.  In short, plagiarism is cheating.


Examples of Plagiarism:


(1)  Buying a paper off the internet or any other source, putting your name on it, and submitting it to fulfill a course requirement.


(2)  Borrowing a paper that a fellow student has submitted for a different course and submitting it as your own work.


(3)  Copying material off the internet, out of books or journals, or from any other source, without citing the source.  Even when the source is cited, copying text verbatim (word-for-word) is plagiarism, unless it is included in quotation marks and is explicitly cited with a page number.


(4)  Borrowing ideas (including copying but rewording text) from any source without citing the source.

This is NOT a comprehensive list of all infractions.  It is merely some examples to illustrate what types of actions would be considered plagiarism.

Why is Plagiarism Wrong?


Plagiarism is unfair.


(1)  It is unfair to other students who do their own work without cheating.


(2)  It is unfair to the author of the original work, who put substantial time and effort into producing that work, and deserves credit.


(3)  It is unfair to professors, who must dedicate time and effort to catching cheaters, which takes time and energy away from more productive activities.


(4)  It is unfair to the plagiarist, who is not getting the full benefit from their education.

A college education should challenge you, should help you learn and should help you grow as a person.  You accomplish none of these goals by cheating.


What are the Sanctions for Students Caught Plagiarizing?


The sanctions for plagiarism are severe.

If you are caught plagiarizing in a course in the Division of Social Sciences, you will be reported to the Division of Social Sciences Committee on Academic Honesty and Ethics.  You will have to appear before this committee and respond to questions they ask about the incident.  The committee will then make a determination of a sanction, taking into consideration any policies each individual instructor might have included on the course syllabus.

Typical sanctions may be an F on the assignment, or a reduction of your final course grade by one level (e.g. from a B to a C).  For a second offense, you typically will be dismissed from the course with a grade of "F."  These are typical sanctions, and the Academic Honesty and Ethics Committee can determine more severe sanctions. 


In addition, cases of plagiarism are reported to the university's Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Copies of this report will be forwarded to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Chair of the Division of Social Sciences, and the Chair and Dean of the student's home department.  Additional sanctions may ensue from any of these offices.  A copy of the report may also be sent to other pertinent groups on campus, such as the Athletics Department or a Fraternity or Sorority.


Why is Plagiarism Punished so Harshly?


Plagiarism is frequently difficult to detect.  Generally other students may know what is going on, but they are reluctant to turn in their fellow students, even though the cheater’s actions may directly affect them and their own grade in the course.  Therefore, when a professor suspects a student has plagiarized, the professor must search for the original source and find other evidence that demonstrates the student is cheating.  This is time consuming and difficult.  In addition, students frequently challenge the professor and deny any wrongdoing, which makes it more difficult and time-consuming.  Because plagiarism is difficult to detect and prove, in instances where it is proven, it must be punished harshly.  This is the most effective way to deter students from trying it.

What is the DSU Policy on Plagiarism?


The Regulations in the Delta State University Student Handbook state:


“The statements listed below, although not inclusive, enumerate certain violations of the student regulations and may subject violators to appropriate disciplinary action, including suspension and expulsion:




9.  Plagiarism, cheating, or knowingly furnishing false and/or misleading information to the University or other similar forms of dishonesty in University-related affairs.”


The Delta State University Bulletin 20062007 states:


“Cheating and plagiarism are not tolerated.  If it is established that a violation has occurred, instructors may determine the penalty as outlined in their course syllabi.  The usual minimum penalty for a first offense involves a grade of zero on the test, examination, or paper in question.  A second offense in a subsequent semester will be reviewed for more stringent action and will usually result in suspension.  Any additional offenses will usually result in expulsion from the university.  All plagiarism offenses should be reported to the student's advisor, the division/department chair, the dean, and the Office of Academic Affairs.  The latter shall maintain records to track multiple offenses.”  (p. 54).


You have the right to appeal a sanction for plagiarism.  Typically, the appeal process would start by scheduling a meeting with the chair of the Division of Social Sciences.  The chair will make a determination on the case, and can advise the students on her/his rights of further appeal.  The appeal may proceed to the college dean, to the university-wide Attendance and Grievance Appeals Committee, and to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, whose determination in any case is final.  See the Academic Grievance Policy for more information on appeals.

More Information

For more information on plagiarism, see the Delta State Library's "
Plagiarism Prevention: A Guide for Students."