Ad Hoc Plagiarism Committee

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s language, ideas, or other material without making the source(s) evident in situations where there is a legitimate expectation of original work. Plagiarism does not occur when efforts to promptly identify sources by making source use apparent to the audience of the submitted material are obvious. Plagiarism may not necessarily include mistakes in citation style.

A legitimate expectation of original work exists for numerous circumstances, including (but not limited to): scholarly writing, technical presentations and papers, conference presentations and papers, online discussion postings, grant proposals, patents, book and other manuscripts, theses and dissertations, class assignments, artistic works, computer code, algorithms, and other creative works.

This definition applies to the entire WMU community, which includes all faculty; students; staff; visiting faculty, scholars, and administrators; and any other person governed by the academic research and other policies of the university.

Recommended Resources

To educate individuals about plagiarism and how to avoid it, it is recommended that WMU provide these resources:

  1. A set of best practices on source use in scholarly and creative activity to assist the WMU community in understanding the issues of plagiarism (disseminated via a website).
  2. A set of workshops based on best practices and the above definition of plagiarism. These workshops should include:
  • A workshop for those who want to learn how to more effectively use source material.
  • A workshop for students who have been found responsible for plagiarism.
  • A workshop for faculty, staff, and administrators who want to learn how to help students engage more effectively with sources in their field while acknowledging different disciplinary expectations for ethical source use.

Committee charges

The ad hoc committee is established for the general purpose of addressing issues related to University policies on plagiarism and to help formulate recommendations on dealing with it.

The basic foundational challenge to the committee is to:

  • Review the state of the University policies on plagiarism
    1. How is it recognized?
    2. How is it communicated to faculty and students?
    3. Are resources sufficient to insure due process for students who may be accused of plagiarism?
  • Investigate related issues. For example:
    1. How to balance deterrence, education, and punitive policies?
    2. How are they related, in other words, do potential punishments seem to decrease the likelihood of plagiarism?
    3. If not, what are the best practices that could be adopted or implemented to help?
    4. Do faculty seem to understand what constitutes plagiarism in their fields?
    5. Is there consistency across campus, withing colleges, or even within disciplines?
    6. Of what value might consistency be?
    7. Are there dangers to imposing arbitrary definitions of plagiarism on faculty?
  • How can University policies related to plagiarism support the core value of truth-seeking scholarship?

    The committee will provide a comprehensive introspective assessment of where and how WMU can improve related to plagiarism, if improvement is called for.

Committee Officers

Kim Ballard, Chair

Tim Broadwater, Vice Chair

John Risley, Secretary

Ex Officio Member

William Rantz
Faculty Senate Executive Board

Appointed Faculty Members

Kelly Ackerson
Bronson School of Nursing

Julie Apker

Ila Baker
Center for English Language and Culture for International Students

Tim Broadwater
Aviation Sciences

Maira Bundza

Edward Eckel

Andre Venter

Robert Wertkin
Interdisciplinary Health Programs

Appointed Administrative Members

Nicole Allbee
Office of Student Conduct

Kim Ballard, Chair
Writing Center

Andrea Beach
Office of Faculty Development

Christine Byrd-Jacobs
Graduate College

Kathy Mitchell

John Risley
Office of the Vice President for Research