A thousand posters warning students against the temptation of plagiarism are going up around Wolverhampton University after it launched a major publicity campaign.
Appeals officer Sharan Hasluck said: "Many students are ignorant about the implications of plagiarism and about the likely penalties. It is not widely understood that plagiarism is cheating." Students worried about plagiarism are being encouraged to seek advice from the academic affairs office and the student union, which is backing the publicity campaign.
Martin Taylor, president of the union, said: "The union in no way supports plagiarism." He added that students who plagiarise are "selling themselves short by passing somebody else's work as their own instead of improving themselves through their own efforts", and "swindling their peers at the university by gaining an unfair advantage".
The poster, produced by art undergraduate Justin Starck -- who won Pounds 100 in a competition for the best design -- asks the students "have you got away with words?" It says that failure to cite authors "may leave you open to an accusation of plagiarism". Also it warns that "sloppy referencing" and the "failure to note in rough work when you quote another's words" is no justification, nor is "the argument that you have changed some of the words or the order of the sentence" acceptable.
Collusion "which is intended to deceive markers" is frowned upon as well, and the poster offers students a dictionary definition -- "where there is evidence that two or more students have co-operated to produce work to be submitted for assessment as the work of one student alone" -- for those in any doubt. They also list the penalties for plagiarism, which include cancellation of credits for a whole semester or an entire year and, for the worst cases, expulsion from the university.
University spokesman Roger Branton stressed that Wolverhampton has "no more of a plagiarism crisis than anywhere else", but he did reveal that there was a "concern" that plagiarism "could be a temptation". He said: "What we are saying is 'don't be panicked into plagiarism by all the pressures out there, don't chuck away all your hard work and education'."