The process of studying is aimed at elaborating, learning, and mastering information, which can be later applied in real life. However, the modern methods of studying suggest that the main purpose of students is not the gaining of real knowledge, but the acquisition of good marks. This is not necessarily done by learning. Moreover, in most cases many students eventually indulge in academic cheating. In fact, the statistics shows that only 5% of students prefer writing their own original works, while the other 97% more or less often plagiarize other works. Such instances indisputably need to be controlled by academia or by the government.
Academic Cheating as a Fundamental Part of Study
However ironic it sounds, experience shows that academic cheating is almost unavoidable in the process of writing new works. Indeed, the issue of academic cheating has been studied for more than ten years, and the results are overwhelming. As an example, the Duke University Department of Academic Integrity studied more than 50 000 students during last 5 years; and other establishments in the USA also contributed to the study. The statistical data, which varied from source to source, showed that:
- 70%-75% of students admitted to have plagiarized different works in their academic writings
- 50%-65% of students confessed to academic cheating in their work
- 30%-35% of students were proven to be guilty of academic cheating
- 5% - 10% of students claimed to have written original works during the whole study process
- 40%-45% of teachers never reported to the authority the cases of academic cheating
The striking numbers show, that academic cheating in writing is practiced all over the world. Some students use someone else’s work due to the lack of imagination; however, most of students do not even try to write on their own. What is more, some cases of academic cheating are left undetected, and the students who are caught cheating are sometimes not even punished. Even more ridiculously, cases of academic cheating have been found not only at schools and colleges, but also in PhD papers. This points to the degrading level of the intellectual potential of modern students.
Academic cheating: Plagiarism laws in USA
Taking into consideration the growing numbers of academic cheating cases in different universities in the USA, there is an evident need for governmental control of plagiarism. However, the progress of plagiarism has a much greater pace than the progress of development of laws connected to this issue. Therefore, more attention should be paid to the legal norms of copyright and cases of its infringement. In other words, punishment needs to go beyond academia, and have real consequences.
The first step to eliminating the possibility of academic cheating is defining the clear features of plagiarism. Thus, the basic plagiarism laws in USA suggest that such issues can be referred to as academic cheating:
- Use of exact words from another source, giving no reference
- Using quotes, and not mentioning the name of the author
- Rewriting whole paragraphs, cutting out some lines or changing their positions without crediting the source
- Using thesis statements of some sources, but giving different examples
- Using a complete work, either an article, research, etc, and changing certain words, phrases, or sentences, giving no reference
- Using text with some minor grammatical changes, giving no reference
- Presenting the original idea, changing its general form, giving no reference
All the mentioned features point to instances of plagiarism, which is often used in academic cheating. However, despite the fact that the definition of plagiarism is more or less clear, the laws of academic cheating punishment are not presented on a state level. As a result, there is no formal universal treatment to all the cases of academic cheating in the USA. That is why, every university can apply different ways of punishing plagiarism.