A&P Instructor Accused Me of Plagiarism

  1. I don't know how to handle this at all. I've never cheated in my life, and I don't even understand how you would plagiarize the assignment. I'm taking A&P online, and for this assignment, we were to do two virtual labs and watch videos about the respiratory system, including the pathway, etc. The first question of the lab journal was to describe the pathway through the respiratory system, describe inhalation, and describe exhalation. I assume (because he has not responded to my email yet) that is the portion he thinks I plagiarized, because the other two questions were over the virtual lab. It is beyond me how it's possible to plagiarize the pathway of air through the respiratory system.

    His comment on my assignment was that I copied it from the internet, and he gave me a zero. I messaged him back that I didn't, but other than just saying I didn't cheat, I don't have any way to prove it, and I won't know anything until he responds. I work more than full time as a domestic violence victim advocate while I'm taking this and another course. My dog just had major surgery, which was unexpected and made my husband's and my finances extremely tight, I'm just starting to get over a nasty bout with viral pharyngitis, and my hard drive crashed yesterday. I can't catch a break, and I feel like I'm killing myself on these classes.

    I'm just so upset and need to vent. Any advice would also be more than welcome.

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    About kissmypineapple, BSN, RN

    Joined: Aug '13; Posts: 20; Likes: 56


  3. by   maddiem
    I would ask your instructor if you could set up a meeting with him. It s hard to deal with an issue like this over email. The reason he probably accused you of plagiarism is because he put your answer to the question into Google and the search came up with an answer that was very similar to yours. For an assignment like this, I think it was unfair of him to do that. If he searches your answer, and its the correct answer, there is going to be many variations and wordings for the correct answer and yours may have been close to one of those. I would consider asking him if he did search your answer on Google and possibly explain this to him. With questions that are very narrow and straight forward, its hard to create "your own original answer". Your bound to get an answer that is very similar to someone else's. Good luck!
  4. by   INN_777
    Agree with above. And before you speak with him, Google your own answer to see what comes up. Maybe you will get a better idea.

    Explain everything to the instructor and try to resolve it with him. But if he insists, go to the science chair and to whoever the next chain of command is. Don't let someone's mistake ruin your grade, your chances at nursing school and just your good name.

    Good luck. Things will turn around!
  5. by   Graduation2016
    From what I understand, you could still have very similar wording from an online paper, as long as you don't go over an specific percentage. Our school uses "safe assign" and I think they have to prove to you that you copied more than that percentage to make it plagiarism. Too many professors ask for the same projects and too many people post these making it very repetitive online. Good luck!
  6. by   mrsboots87
    Many instructors of online classes use a program other than google to research for plagiarism. If it came up as plagiarized it could be from a wide assortment of sources. You need to have him send you proof of plagiarism first. The program they use should highlight the "plagiarized" portion of your response and a reference to where it was taken from. If your instructor is using the google method you can fight that. If he is using a program it is harder to fight it but not impossible. It could also be that your instructor is very strict. Plagiarism covers a wide array of "copying". Many schools don't even allow for self plagiarism. It could be that your response was a paraphrase of material from the video and not referenced. It could be that your lab responses were also paraphrasing and not referenced. I give those examples because they are the easiest to do on accident. Not all instructors will flag you for this, but there are those that do. Generally, an instructor understand you read the book, powerpoint, lecture, whatever, and worded your answer from that and don't care about references. But since your response is not an original idea, and you had to have learned it from somewhere, if you don't list references, then they can ding you for plagiarizing if they are more strict. I have only had 1 instructor (of the 6 courses I have taken online) who was that picky, and luckily I was one of the few that always uses citations and references in my work. Technically a campus can drop you from the course and put you on academic probation for plagiarizing, so only giving you a 0 is a good sign. It may have been something minor and having the professor review what caused it can fix the issue in the future. EIther that, or he is a jerk for assuming plagiarism when you didn't.

    I take a lot f online courses and always cover my tush by referencing. If I feel my response was closely worded to the book or other source, I reference it. I have never had an issue with doing this.

    Sorry you got a bad mark for it ad hopefully you can get a better explanation from the instructor.
  7. by   NurseGirl525
    Plagiarism is a huge issue now days. With the internet came issues of people just googling and typing in other people's work without giving credit. I understand the issue, there are not too many ways to explain respiration but if it was word for word or maybe only off by a couple, they will accuse you of it and it is up to you to prove that you didn't. At my school we fail the course if we plagiarize. I did this paper for my micro class. Just a small, two page paper. It was on nurses in the civil war and how they used sterile technique. I just randomly looked up some stuff on it. I had already known some of it as I am a huge civil war buff. But I read up on it and wrote my paper. We were discussing plagiarism in my English class and I asked my professor if even though I didn't quote anything or write anything even remotely close to what the article was about, did I have to cite it because I got the knowledge from there. She told me yes. And if I was ever in doubt I had to cite.

    Here is my issue with that. All of our ideas and knowledge come from somewhere. We learn things throughout life. How do you cite everything? I feel like we are going overboard with the citing thing. And then I was told if I cited too much then that is also plagiarizing. It is a very gray area and you have to be very careful with it.

    I would most certainly go in and speak with someone at the school. I would get this cleared up right away.
  8. by   edmia
    This is ridiculous. You are not writing a scholarly paper on the pathophysiology of cellular respiration and passing off someone's research as your own. You are answering basic knowledge questions to which there is little variation in the answer. You do not need to cite this type of answer unless the guy specifically said to do so in the syllabus or instructions.

    If he does not agree to discuss this with you, go above his head and file a complaint.

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
  9. by   ShelbyaStar
    This is really weird to me that he'd even bother checking for a question like this. I get that plagiarism is serious but like others said, there's only so many ways to answer, and it's strange to go through the effort for basic questions like that. I had a similar incident the first time around with school, but it was a paper and I think after talking with the instructor she just let it go. I still have no idea how she got the idea that I'd plagiarized it- but it was a paper on ethics, not a basic anatomy question.
  10. by   INN_777
    I agree, it is ridiculous, as you are not asked to offer an opinion here, but rather state facts. For questions such as passage through respiratory system or passage of food through the body or blood through the chambers of the heart - the answers will and should be the same if correct. A very strange situation. Hope you clear it up!
  11. by   kissmypineapple
    I really appreciate all the responses. I read one of the AllNurses articles on plagiarism last night and then ran my assignment through DupliChecker (I think that's what it's called), which was mentioned in the article, and it came back as 0% plagiarism. I haven't run it just through a Google search, but I can't even understand what would have made him think I copied it from the internet in the first place. My formatting was a little wonky, because I typed it in a text editor before dragging it into the text box on Blackboard (which is not self-plagiarism, I wrote it for this assignment, and have never written anything like it before), because I'm always worried I'll accidentally submit something before it's finished, but a) it never occurred to me that the formatting would matter, since I don't cheat, and don't think of things like that, and b) if that's a red flag, I would think he would then need to check for proof of copying before accusing me and assigning a zero.

    Because it's an online class, the section happens to be offered in a different city (I'm taking my course from Ivy Tech, and the Indianapolis section didn't have room), but I guess if I can't clear that up with him via email, I'll have to drive up there.

    Thank you so much again!
  12. by   meanmaryjean
    The formatting MAY be where the plagiarism accusation is coming from . I used to be an online instructor, and a change of font is a dead giveaway of copy-and-paste work. I've caught many a cheater that way. I should say- it starts the investigative process. JUST a font change is obviously not the only evidence one goes by.

    Explain exactly as you did in the previous post about how you move text over to Blackboard. Perhaps even send a sample over Blackboard of the email you are sending.

    Hope this helps.
  13. by   mrsboots87
    if you used a plagiarism program that showed 0% plagiarism, you have a really good leg to stand on with fighting this. Maybe other students wrote very similar answers (which would make sense), so he thinks you guys all plagiarized. Or maybe he mixed up students work and gave you the mark meant for someone else. Just trying to think of ways this could happen, because if he marked you plagiarising willy nilly, then thats messed up.
  14. by   mrsboots87
    Quote from meanmaryjean
    The formatting MAY be where the plagiarism accusation is coming from . I used to be an online instructor, and a change of font is a dead giveaway of copy-and-paste work. I've caught many a cheater that way. I should say- it starts the investigative process. JUST a font change is obviously not the only evidence one goes by.

    Explain exactly as you did in the previous post about how you move text over to Blackboard. Perhaps even send a sample over Blackboard of the email you are sending.

    Hope this helps.
    I didnt even think of that, but its good to know. My school uses a system for submitting assignments thats reformats all work entered to be the same font and such. No matter the font used in whatever word processing program is used to write it before copying it. But it would make sense if blackboard (or other systems) dont do that, a weird format would be suspect. I am taking an online course through a different school that uses Canvas for submitting work instead of the system that that my current school uses. Ill have to make sure that my assignments match the regular formatting of the site when submitting. I never plagiarize, but if I can avoid being accused, that would be good.