Fraud & Plagiarism
Fraud. Information for students of the faculty of EEMCS
A student is having difficulty getting a compulsory project off the ground. In search of inspiration and structure, he goes to the library and consults reports from the previous year. After reading them, he decides to make a summary of the best passages and submit them as his own work. At first sight, the resulting paper looks good. But the lecturer soon starts to notice discrepancies, as some of the details in this year’s assignment differ from that of the previous year. The paper is declared invalid and the student is branded for the rest of his university career. Furthermore, he is banned from taking the module for a year, and could have been excluded from all education at TU Delft during that period.
Two students are writing a paper. For their introduction, they copy a large passage from an article published on the internet word for word, without marking it as such and without stating the source. They write the rest of the paper themselves, based on various sources, which they quote in their list of consulted work. The lecturer assessing their paper is familiar with the introductory article and declares the whole paper invalid. The students now run the risk of exclusion from all education at TU Delft by the Board of Examiners for a maximum period of a year.
What do we mean by fraud?
Looking over someone’s shoulder during an exam, copying notes made on your mobile phone or a scrap of paper; however you do it, copying is clearly breaking the rules. If you study regularly and seriously, you will not need to copy. Use exercise material to practise and ask questions during lectures; this will help you prepare for your exams.
Science works by building on the knowledge of others. This means that you will regularly use and refer to texts written by other people. It is important that you make a clear distinction between your own ideas and those of a third party. To put it simply, plagiarism is copying someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. As long as you meet certain conditions, you are allowed to quote directly from a published article written by some else: the texts must not be too long, the citation must be printed using quotation
marks and the source must be stated. You are allowed to paraphrase ideas, but you must use enough of your own words and state the source. The boundary between quoting, paraphrasing and cheating is not always clear, but in an academic environment, failing to take due care may be seen as cheating. Every student and lecturer is expected to show utmost respect for the rules on this point. This is why we pay specific attention to ways of using and referring to source material in lectures.
Taking advantage of others
You will often be expected to work in groups with other students. This can lead to situations whereby one student takes advantage of the hard work carried out by his or her fellow-group members. To avoid situations like this, it is important to make firm agreements and take detailed notes. Consult your supervisor as soon as problems arise or if you feel that certain workgroup members are not contributing fairly.
‘Fiddling’ your research data
When carrying out research, you might be tempted to alter your data. Let’s take a user survey, for example. It is not always easy to find people in your target group for the survey. And sometimes students believe that they can quite easily put themselves in the particular target group’s position, so they supplement their survey with fabricated data. However, this constitutes fraud. By doing this, a student is violating an important principle in the work of a researcher: to carry out research work with care. In your research reports, you should therefore always explain and justify your starting point and conclusions clearly, so that the way in which you reached your results is transparent. Lecturers will check on this.
Invigilators supervise exams, checking for notes made on scraps of paper or your mobile phone, or other hidden aids. Lecturers can run your essays and articles through the plagiarism scanner to check for copying if they suspect cheating or at random. During group presentations and discussions, lecturers will also be on the lookout for students who do not appear to be contributing their fair share.
Lecturers report all cases of suspected cheating to the Board of Examiners. The Board then makes a decision on the suspected cheating and if a student is found guilty, he or she can be excluded from all exams and assessments at TU Delft for a maximum of a year. This can obviously have implications for the duration and funding of your studies.
- Study regularly and seriously.
- Make a study plan so that you complete assignments in time.
- Go to the tutorials and make use of exercise material to practise exams.
- Make sure you observe the rules on quoting, paraphrasing and stating sources correctly and carefully.
- Practise quoting and refer to examples in scientific texts.
- If in doubt, ask your lecturer for help.
- Make firm agreements about tasks during group assignments and swap roles every now and then, so that you acquire the all-round experience you will need for individual assignments.
- Do not tempt other people.