2018-Case Study – 4

Same verbatim with same spelling and grammatical errors shows the situation to be a clear case of plagiarism. Plagiarism of content is unjustified. But punishing the plagiarism with poor grades may cause financial crisis for the institute and scholarship of students being withdrawn.
Option 1: Marking the reports poorly for the act of plagiarism

  • This act of plagiarism needs to be punished. Letting go of the incident will be encouraging factor to repeat similar behavior in subsequent years.
  • The act like awarding liberally to the plagiarism will deteriorate the quality of the institute and the quality of the engineers the institute is producing.
  • The non-punishing of plagiarism would act as an encouraging tendency to even other half students who have prepared the report devoting time and energy to adopt lax attitude in future.

Consequences:

  • Impact reflecting on the grants and the adverse impact on the salary would lead to financial distress. This may also result in wrath from the head of the department and colleagues.
  • Reduction or withdrawal of scholarships may result in inability of students to effectively manage the finances which would lead to financial distress.

Option 2: Marking liberally would result in

  • This would prevent the institute from any possible cases of financial distress.
  • No impact on financial condition of students as scholarships would not be affected.
  • No wrath from head of the department or colleagues.

Consequence:

  • It would lead to encouraging of lax attitude on behalf of students.
  • It would also be like rewarding the unethical behavior of students.
  • Further the skill level of the student would decrease as students would not give necessary attention towards the project. This reduces the employability of the students.

Option 3: Keeping the work Pending until the HOD returns

  • Allowing the HOD to take decision will absolve me from doing any wrong doing and or facing wrath due to scoring low grades and consequent financial distress.

Consequence

  • Incompetency on my part to act in tough situations would lead to reduced faith of HOD and institution towards me.

My course of action
The challenge before me is how to punish the plagiarism without or with minimal damage to the institute. My course of action would be

  • Will award the other half reports with no signs of plagiarism with good grades according to their quality.
  • Make a report showing the resemblance as a proof of plagiarism to place before the Head of the department.
  • Grade all the reports with plagiarism with same low grade.
  • Submit the grading and report to the head once he returns to the office.
  • Will try to explore and keep the options before HOD to prevent the financial crisis like granting extra time for them to give better reports.

The real test of integrity would be in tough situations. An ethical attitude and addressing the challenges arising out of it determines the competence of an individual.

Question for UPSC Mains:
You are a professor at a noted university teaching in first year graduate level engineering course. One of the requirements of the course you are teaching is a term project that includes a written report, to be worked out in the department's library. You discover that almost half of the students have produced identical reports. The reports have different cover pages, font styles but have same verbatim and even same grammatical and spelling errors. Your Senior (chair of the Department) has already left the town with the instructions to you to grade the students generously since they depend on good grades for scholarships; and the department needs good grades to keep drawing faculty salaries (including yours) from the university. You have to grade the students tomorrow before your senior returns. Discuss various options available to you and define which option would you choose and why.

Published: April 2, 2018 | Modified:April 2, 2018

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