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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Plagiarism on the rise at college papers

    PROVO, Utah – In an annual report published by, the number of journalism plagiarism incidents, and especially the number of plagiarism incidents involving student journalists, increased in 2006.

    This report was not a catch-all, citing only those plagiarism instances that were publicized.

    While named 16 instances of plagiarism in 2005, 28 instances were cited in 2006. Several of these instances involved student newspapers, including one close to home.

    A writer for the University of Utah’s student paper, The Daily Utah Chronicle, was fired in December after the editors of the paper discovered he had plagiarized several articles.

    The student, Mark Mitchell, admitted to stealing his story “”Championship karaoke: Beware the holiday musical horrors awaiting you this, and every, year”” from the article “”The Christmas time horrors that await you”” featured in The Onion’s A.V. Club. After his admission, his employment at the paper was immediately terminated.

    While plagiarism may not be as much of a problem at Brigham Young University as it is at other universities, it is still something that the Honor Code Office deals with fairly regularly, according to Steven Baker, director of the Honor Code Office.

    Although no known incidents have occurred recently at The Daily Universe, it is an issue that the writers and editors of the paper work hard to prevent.

    “”We take plagiarism at the Daily Universe very seriously and we are constantly checking our students and informing them and teaching them the right and the wrong ways to attribute items,”” said Robb Hicken, managing director of The Daily Universe.

    While plagiarism is taken very seriously throughout all of BYU, the communications department takes a special interest in monitoring and educating their students against plagiarism, said Ed Adams, chair of the communications department.

    “”Between my associate and I, we deal with anywhere from three to six issues of students plagiarizing a semester, and the outcome is disastrous for the student,”” Adams said. “”[We are] so severe [because] we are in journalism and communications, and information has the ability to inflict vast damage in people’s lives and careers.””

    Professors can only speculate as to why this increase is occurring.

    “”It’s just sheer laziness,”” said John Hughes, BYU professor and former editor for the Deseret Morning News “”It’s people not wanting to do the research and legwork and writing. Its people stealing other people’s work to try to get by and they almost always get called out in the end.””

    Hicken attributes the increase of incidents involving student journalists to the mere fact that there are more methods to track students who might be plagiarizing.

    “”I think students are getting caught more because we are monitoring them more,”” Hicken said.

    Adams attributes the increase to the Internet.

    “”The Internet makes it easier,”” Adams said. “”In a post-Internet era you can purchase papers, you can buy articles, and you can even go look at previous issues of The Daily Universe over the last eight or nine years.””

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