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Plagiarism in joint lab report

  1. Feb 9, 2016 #1
    Not so much homework question, more about experience doing homework. You have likely had experience writing lab reports quite long. I have a partner and I am worried that he is doing what my university would consider plagiarism. I've asked him about it and got nothing back.
    To give context he ends up doing a very high quality lab report in maybe four hours that ends up being about 16 pages long. Is this common? I end up contributing about half, but he simply doesn't use it. When asked about it he said that he was paraphrasing what I had said.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2016 #2
    He may have access to a stash of lab reports by older students? That was what I had, way way back. (I never copied though, just used them to learn.)

    It is not uncommon to find plagiarism in introduction and background. I react strongly in such cases, the student is in trouble when I see that. And once I found out a report that was completely taken from the web, including the data. I reported those students to the Board of Discipline.
  4. Feb 9, 2016 #3
    Well, it's clear you need to do something if you strongly think he's plagiarizing. Your reputation is on the line here. If the professor finds out that plagiarizing has happened, you will be in trouble since you got your name on those reports.

    Perhaps you should speak to your professor about your concerns. Tell him you suspect your partner might be plagiarizing, but ask your professor to be discrete about your input. This way, you might be covered if it does turn out to be a problem.
    In any case, keep all the evidence. Keep all the emails between you and your partner. Keep the proposals and parts of what you sent to him very clearly. Keep his communication to you. Plagiarizing is a big issue if it turns out to be true. You will want to be on the safe side here. Perhaps go so far to ask for a different partner, or to work alone.
  5. Feb 9, 2016 #4
    That sounds like a horrible situation to be in and I'm curious how to handle it. Say your lab partner plagiarizes without your knowledge and gets caught. I imagine there's a possibility you would get punished for this even though it's not your fault.
  6. Feb 9, 2016 #5
    I am currently thinking about joining another group. I have kept all the parts and revisions of the labs thus far on my part. What makes this feel very strange to me is that he can finish it so quickly. I have honor students saying they spend a solid 12 hours on the report, even then they aren't sure of the quality. So when he starts from scratch and has a polished version within 5 hours, it doesn't add up.
  7. Feb 9, 2016 #6
    The way my university words plagiarism is so vague that if they think that this isn't an original thought it would be considered plagiarism. . So push come to shove it would be dependent on my department/whoever sees it, after that is the chopping block.
  8. Feb 9, 2016 #7
    Yes. And please mention this to the professor in private. He needs to know about your concerns. Because if you don't mention anything and you get caught, it's your ass on the line. You might be expelled, or get your reputation tarnished, or get recommendation letters for grad school mentioning this incident.
  9. Feb 9, 2016 #8
    When your name is under it and it gets caught for plagiarism, you got caught. Doesn't matter if you 'did it' or not.

    If you run for president in 30 years and they dig up this then, your campaign is over.
    That's always what I told my colleges when they were getting close to plagiarism.

    How bad this will end in your cause, I don't know. If you care about your reputation and don't agree with the content, don't put your name under it.
    That said, the people grading your report may know this practice has been going on and may not be taking action. But like you see here, people grading it may take very strong action.
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