Monday, November 9, 2009

University Repays $600K Grant Due to Plagiarism

Central Michigan University must return National Science Foundation (NSF) grant funds after research showed that "two math faculty allegedly copied and pasted uncited information" in an NSF-sponsored report ("University Officials Expect to Find Source of Money to Return NSF Grant within Two Weeks" - Central Michigan Life, November 4, 2009). University officials voted to repay $619,489 to the NSF, but at least one faculty member questioned the effects of the university losing this amount of money. Two of the seven math professors who worked on the grant secured employment at other universities. Central Michigan officials would not divulge if any punitive action was taken against math grant faculty that remain on staff.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Should faculty be punished for plagiarism, especially when external funding must be repaid as a result of academic dishonesty? Why or why not?
  2. Should the math grant faculty be required to contribute toward repayment of the grant? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think universities put too much pressure on faculty to secure grants instead of teaching students? (See Redefining Research from Michigan State University State News for a snapshot of the urgency to qualify for research funding.) Does this push for external funding cause faculty members to commit plagiarism because they are pressed for time to complete grant reports?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Save Your Soul at a Tennessee University by Not Cheating

A business professor who thought cheating occurred in his MBA class at Middle Tennessee State had students sign an honor code stating they would go to hell if they cheated ("Pledge Condemns Cheaters to Hell, MTSU Students Asked to Sign," (Nashville, TN), November 4, 2009). Some of Thomas Tang's students reported the incident to the department chair. In the video that accompanied the story, it was mentioned that the first part of the honor code included a listing of the 10 Commandments followed by the paragraph about going to hell if students cheated. The professor stated that he was "trying to raise standards" and that he was concerned about the suspected cheating especially since the class recently completed a chapter on ethics.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Would you sign a document pledging to not cheat in class? Why or why not?
  2. If a professor suspected an individual cheated in class, what would be the best way to handle the situation?
  3. Have you ever reported other people you saw cheating in class? Why or why not?
  4. Does it matter to you if other people cheat or plagiarize in a class you're taking? Why or why not?