Plagiarism or not?

  1. I am asking an honest question here. I just failed a class because I was accused by the instructor of plagiarism. I have never been accused of anything like this before. Let me give you the details. I had surgery 3 weeks prior and was still feeling the pain (bone surgery.) Two days before I turned in this paper I developed a rip- roaring UTI with fever and everything. I had just gone back to work - had worked 3 12 hour shifts. I was taking Bactrim DS BID. That Sunday morning (my day off) I took my hydrocodone for the first time in 3 days because I hurt like hell! The paper that was due was not a scholarly research paper, there was no rubric. It was an opinion on what we thought about a fairly general subject. It was not due for another 5 days. I had pulled multiple articles on this subject as I was formulating what to write. Well, according to my husband, after taking my Bactrim, hydrocodone & celexa, I sat down at the computer and typed out a paper and submitted it. I really don't remember doing it. So two days later I get a call from the professor, who is spitting mad saying that I plagiarized my paper. I was stunned. I thought I was still working on it! I went on line and there it was. I pulled it up - I read it. It was vastly similar to one the articles I was using as a resource. I went into her office to explain. I had all my sources. Prior to this I had been a straight A student. No issues what-so-ever. My husband went with me to explain what he had seen. Nope - I failed. Even though I still had time to submit another paper. I did submit another paper - she was not going to accept it. So now I am appealing her decision. While it is a lesson in not mixing medication, how often does someone have a UTI, bone surgery and a paper due all at the same time. We as nurses try to preach about holistic care, but not between ourselves.
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    Joined: Aug '13; Posts: 5; Likes: 1


  3. by   llg
    The question is not whether or not you plagerized the paper. Apparently, by your own admission ... you DID plagerize the paper.

    The real issue/question for the appeals committee (or whoever is going to decide) is that you committed the offense while you were too drugged up to think straight. Should you be given some sort of break or 2nd chance because you weren't in your "right mind" when you committed the offense?

    That's a great question and I look forward to seeing what my colleagues here on allnurses will say about it. On one hand, "being on drugs" -- even legal ones -- does not always relieve one of responsibility. For example, if someone is on drugs and gets behind the wheel of a car and kills someone, or goes to work as a nurse and kills someone, there is usually some price to pay, isn't there? On the other hand, the drugs you took were not illegal and you were not aware of the effect they would have upon you. So maybe you deserve a break.

    If it were me ... (and I have served on an appeals board for a school before) ... I would impose a small penalty, but let you submit alternative work and pass the course. Nobody died and your offense was not intentional.
  4. by   MSN2
    I did submit another paper under the deadline along with an explanation and an apology. I asked for her to look back at all my other to work to see that this was totally unintentional. As you mentioned, I had not taken my pain killers for 3 days because I was at work and driving. I thought being at home with no where to go was safe - alas the internet! Thank you for your comment.
  5. by   fuzzy911
    I agree with llg. the pain medications state don't operate or drive while on as they can cause impairment. Impairment goes for everything... That coupled with the plagiarism crack down that's going on....going to be a tough case for you. Just my opinion. Not judging, we have all been there.
  6. by   MSN2
    I agree - I was looking up drug interactions and I don't think the Bactrim helped. This class has been a stressor from the beginning. It was all on-line, poorly prepared, with vague assignments that required multiple emails to the instructor which sometimes went for a week or two with no response. This was the last assignment - and what is bothering ME most is that I turned it in 5 days early!!!! I must have had some underlying subconscious stress about it that came out like the perfect storm. Because this had never happened to me, I started researching plagiarism. I had no idea you could go onto websites and download papers or buy papers. I did this research because I wanted to know that if in some subconscious way I was a plagiarizer! I learned a lot about the subject, but like both of your comments, the main theme of most of what I read was the INTENT of the person. I will take this as far up the ladder as necessary in some hopes that I can prove that there was no INTENT - just a bad cocktail of medication along with a stressed out MSN student. Thanks again for your reply
  7. by   SummitRN
    Hope they go easy on you. Next time tell the prof what's going on and ask for an extension based on sever illness with a note from your doc.
  8. by   Psychcns
    What about having your doc write a letter about the drug interactions and what likely happened. Sounds like a delerium.
  9. by   VickyRN
    I don't mean to unduly alarm you, but plagiarism is a very serious offense. Besides causing you to receive a failing grade in the course and the resultant "hit" on you GPA, a confirmed case of plagiarism is an academic integrity violation, which will become part of your permanent student record. It can also be used as justification to expel you from your MSN program (depending on what is stated in your program's student handbook).

    You need to request a meeting with your instructor, the Dean, and yourself ASAP to see what can be done to get this resolved.

    You also might consider hiring a lawyer to aid in the campus appeals process.
  10. by   Esme12
    Unfortunately....whether or not you were is still plagiarism. My teens have to turn their papers into an on line source that screens for plagiarism and it has to be less than 3%, which is sometime difficult when an entire class of 11th graders are writing about the same book...the quotes alone are greater than 3%, or they fail.

    At this level of education they may have little tolerance for excuses for we all should "know better by now".

    I wish you the best!
  11. by   vera4130
    That stinks. I wish people could be a little more understanding. With NO previous problems, I'd cut you a break and hope you hadn't fooled me.

    I took a pain med after being hurt in a car accident once and apparently woke up and ordered a knife set off of an infomercial, don't remember that at all either. The sad part is it didn't help the pain that much.
  12. by   PalmHarborMom
    I fully understand that you may have unintentionally plagiarized; however, professors often do not differentiate between intentional and unintentional. It is hard for professors' to be very lenient due to large number of students that come up with every excuse they can think of as to why they plagiarized or did not complete an assignment. Academic integrity applies to professors' in addition to students. Professors' have a professional duty to call out those who have plagiarized. Some institutions have clear cut guidelines that must be followed so it may have been out of the professors' hands. The boards to file appeals are your opportunity to defend your position.

    Hopefully, the board will see that this was not intentional. Be very careful writing papers in the rest of the classes that you take. If your appeal is approved for that class, even a suggestion of plagiarism in the future might result in disciplinary action.

    Good luck!
  13. by   llg
    One more thing ... drop any commenting on the quality of the class, your opinions of the school or the professor, etc. All that is irrelevant and will make you look like a whiner trying to justify bad decision-making. Stick to the basic fact that you took a bad combination of drugs and the resultant mental confusion caused you to make a bad judgment. You know it was wrong to plagerize and would never do that if you were in control of yourself. Apologize and say that you will be more careful with medications in the future now that you see how they can effect you. etc.

    Don't try to shift the focus/blame to anything else or minimize the seriousness of plagerism. In academia, plagerism is a bad as the crime of robbery -- because it IS stealing and it undermines the whole system.

    Good luck to you. I hope you get a break -- but be prepared to accept some sort of penalty even if you do get that break.
  14. by   OCNRN63
    I agree with the advice you've been given. I would suggest running your paper through a proofreading site that checks for spelling, grammar and plagiarism. I don't know if this would have helped you in your situation since you were impaired, but it may help in the future.

    I would just beg for mercy and ask them to take into consideration that your previous work was original. You don't want this on your record.