Students who plagiarize and are caught red-handed always try to negotiate their punishment with their teachers. The teachers often believe explanations of “inadvertent” plagiarism. This type of individual negotiation exerts psychological pressure on the teacher.
The students’ arguments are often disconcerting. For example, how should a teacher respond to statements like: “I only plagiarized 30% of the paper, so I should only get 30% of the punishment” or “I wasn’t the one who plagiarized; it was the other student I worked with” or even “I never plagiarize in winter, but in the spring the days are longer, so we have less time for our schoolwork.”
The increasingly commonplace nature of plagiarism causes teachers to feel a form of discouragement.
It is therefore essential to set up sanction mechanisms that are transparent and firm and that are not up for discussion.
• Any exposure of plagiarism must lead to an investigation, regardless of the position of the person who brings it to light.
• Over the course of the investigation, students should be heard by third parties and not by their teachers, who should remain prudent in what they say.
• If plagiarism is found, it should be a “disciplinary committee” that does the finding.
• Cases of partial plagiarism could lead to a mark of “zero,” to a notice being entered in the student’s record, or to the student failing part or all of the program.
• Cases of severe plagiarism (for example, copying and pasting the entirety of a text) could lead to the student’s suspension or expulsion from the institution.
• The sanction should be able to be appealed within a short time period and the review should be completed quickly.
• A notice of expulsion for plagiarism should be published – without revealing the student’s identity – when the sanction goes into effect.