Letter: Plagiarism research

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

I just recently graduated from SIUC and feel that I have a personal connection to the school, having obtained both a BA and a MA from the university. I also have a personal connection to the plagiarism stories connected to SIUC. As a requirement for my degree in Administration of Justice I completed a thesis that examined academic misconduct. In particular, my research focused on the attitudes of SIUC students toward (at the time) Chancellor Walter Wendler, and what, if any, influence the situation had on SIUC students’ own academic misconduct. In other words, would students who question the legitimacy of the school administration be more likely to cheat on a test or plagiarize a paper? I was fortunate enough to have data on student misconduct prior to the Wendler accusations, and compared that to a second sample of students (asking the same questions) after the plagiarism allegations. I found that student misconduct had decreased since the prior year. The allegations against Wendler did not adversely affect the behavior of students. In fact, a student’s own sense of morality (cheating is always wrong) was the most predictive factor in student misconduct. While this certainly does not excuse academic misconduct by university officials, my research indicates that, at least at SIU, administrators are too far removed from the students to influence their behavior.

Natalie Metz Zeman


2007 SIUC alumna