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Worst Day of School EVER..Please help

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by Daisie4100 Daisie4100 (New) New

In my Nursing Fundamentals class we had to do a group presentation and write a paper about how the group worked together to achieve our teaching goals. We turned the paper in on Monday. Today we all got an email that we needed to meet with our instructor. We raced in there, where she handed us the program plagiarism policy. She proceeded to tell us that there was a blatant case of plagiarism in our paper. She understands that only one of us wrote that part of the paper but since we all agreed that the paper was good enough to hand in, that we were all getting a zero for the paper. She said we were lucky that we weren't kicked out. She said that she had discussed it with all of the staff and the dean and they decided that a zero was the least punishment for the group.

Now the girl who did it was really upset because she had cited the book and was providing the rationale that was required. It turns out however that the person who did our references neglected to include this cite. She instead made up her own cite for this reference and screwed it up by only citing the last page of the book. She had not been a very good team player the whole presentation, and now this. The funny thing is, we all emailed her our references in APA format. All she had to do is put them all on one page. That's it. And she couldn't even do that right.

Does anyone know if there is anyway to fight this without making things worse?

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 10 years experience.

Plagiarism is not simply forgetting to cite a source. Plagiarism is taking entire verbatim sections of another person's work and claiming that it's original.

If you are writing a paper with the intent to cite sources, then you should write a sentence summarizing the fact found in the source, and then cite it. There should be a citation directly following the fact, not only in the reference section. If you take a direct quote from a source, then it needs to be in quotation marks with the citation and page number immediately following.

Since this is Fundamentals, you must be in your first year of school. I'm sure that your instructor is used to new students being unfamiliar with APA format and forgetting to cite sources. She would not speak to the dean because you forgot to cite a source or cited it incorrectly. There was obviously a much bigger plagiarism issue here. It's most likely that one of your classmates took paragraphs of text directly from another source (such as the text book) and attempted to pass it off as something that he or she had written.

It's unfortunate that you all got penalized, but that's one of the risks of group work. I think your instructor has a valid justification for plagiarism beyond how your classmate tried to explain it to you. She's trying to save face. I don't think you can fight this as a group, as giving you a zero was probably the correct course of action. Your instructor is correct that she could have been much harsher. What I would suggest is that you go to your instructor as an individual, explain what part of the paper you wrote and ask if there is any way that you could do an extra paper or something to help bring up that grade.

Be thankful you didn't get expelled, and try to avoid the person who did the works cited in groups. I agree with Ashley though about talking to your instructor about an extra essay.

I would be devastated too. Your story reminds me to check the work when it's finished completely. This way I can be assured that my grade isn't affected by someone else's mistake. I'm sorry you had to go through that, and agree that you should respectfully ask for an additional paper. Good luck :-)

brillohead, ADN, RN

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty. Has 5 years experience.

This is one of the many reasons I *hate* group projects. I understand that we need to learn to work as a team, work with different personalities, yada yada yada, but the fact of the matter is that someone else's laziness should NOT reflect poorly on me, and I should not have to do someone else's work in order to get a decent grade.

I would look through your school's plagiarism policy and see if it makes any reference to group work, or holding someone responsible for plagiarism performed by another party. While you may have agreed as a group that the paper was good enough to turn in, you did not all have access to every written work and databases through which to check your peers for integrity (the plagiarism got caught either because the instructor recognized the verbatim portion, or because the instructor ran your paper through a scanning program that cross-checks for stolen verbiage).

One aspect of nursing is personal responsibility and integrity, and you should be able to expect both from your classmates. If your school doesn't provide you with a way to check on other peoples' integrity (like access to the databases they use to check papers), then your school shouldn't hold you responsible for the actions of another.

What I would do is write a letter to your instructor and the head of the department, providing an explanation in writing of what your role in the whole thing was, and provide copies of the emails/files that you submitted for your portion of the group project. Request to be given class credit for your portion of the work, or to be given another option for obtaining credit on your own.

Be calm / rational / reasonable in your writing, do not give in to emotional tirades (even though they are applicable to the situation!). I would also request instruction in how the school expects situations like this to be handled in the future -- what do THEY think every student involved in a group project should be doing to protect themselves? You are going to be required to do group projects in every single class you take from now until diploma day, so you NEED to find out how to prevent this from happening again.

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I don't understand how they expect you to know that something someone else wrote was plagerized? In group work, everyone does their own work and you compile it all into one assignment to hand in. Unless you all are together deciding on every single word in the paper, there is no way you could tell someone else in the group plagerized. (unless you happen to recognize the work, or have access to a system to run the paper through)

Have to agree with brillohead - I've always despised group projects in school, seemed like only a percentage of students were dependable. Anyways definitely be happy you are not expelled and then ask the professor what you can do to make up for it, extra essay, etc. Also it would be wise that as a group you write what your responsibilities were. But the main thing is to stay calm and be very rationale. Plagerism is definitely no joke and in APA format even if you "rearrange the words" you still need to cite it.

if what i read is accurate, it wasn't plagiarized, it just wasn't properly attributed. if you used apa format for the citations in the body of the writing, and they just didn't appear in the bib, that's not much of a basis for an accusation of plagiarism.

but somebody up above is right-- this assignment was, in part, designed to teach you about the dynamics (benefits and perils) of group work. one thing you all learned is that everyone who contributes to a project is responsible for its contents, and so everyone has to check the final submission. it hasn't been mentioned here, but it's also useful to keep a log of any conversations, group sessions, and decisions. sort of like....charting.

i'm very sorry you had to learn a hard lesson this way; perhaps your dean would be more merciful if you printed out the emails you all sent giving the proper bib to the person who committed to compiling it. if whoever wrote it has track changes on her word processing, that would be instructive, too. if not, asking to do a make-up project --without the miscreant-- might soften the dean's heart. doing it anyway, without asking, might be even better.

good luck!

Thank you everyone! I have talked to my instructor and there is no formal accusation of plagiarism being made by she is upholding the zero. She also will not let us do anything to make up the points. I am extremely upset but have decided to move on. One of our last things to turn in is another group paper and this experience has made me not want to have any part in it. Not sure how I'm going to handle this group.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

How reputable is your school? It sounds to me like the punishment is too harsh for the crime, particularly for the students who had nothing to do with the error -- and no way to know that an error had been made. It sounds like the kind of stunt that a poor quality school would do. I believe a good quality school would not behave that way.

You might want to think twice before you invest more in this school. Do some more research on its reputation. Talk to upper classmen and see if this kind of unreasonableness is typical of them. etc.

Hmmmm...and I thought most nurses possessed problem solving abilities and critical thinking. Your instructor has neither. I don't have the experience to tell you what to do from here, but I'd sure be talking to people who do.

tsm007

Has 2 years experience.

I despise group projects. I read this question a few days ago and my first thoughts were well how would they expect you to know if something was plagiarized. Then I got to thinking about my school and how they do things. They expect a citation for anything that is not common knowledge. If the average idiot off the street wouldn't know that it was a fact, then they want a citation. So with that, if you took that philosophy when proofreading the assignment you should be able to see when something didn't have a citation. Now you might not be able to tell that something was properly cited, but at least you could halt the plagiarizism aspect. I think that's insane that you got a zero on this. That's pretty crappy and I would be very upset about that as well.

How reputable is your school? It sounds to me like the punishment is too harsh for the crime, particularly for the students who had nothing to do with the error -- and no way to know that an error had been made. It sounds like the kind of stunt that a poor quality school would do. I believe a good quality school would not behave that way.

You might want to think twice before you invest more in this school. Do some more research on its reputation. Talk to upper classmen and see if this kind of unreasonableness is typical of them. etc.

I don't necessarily agree with this, and I hate to say that I agree with your instructor, but on some level, I do. If it is simply a matter of improper citation, then you instructor has not matched the punishment to the crime. If, however, one person in your group happened to take chunks of information from another source and not cite it, you would have no way to know and the punishment then fits the "crime". The problem here is that whoever may have done this is likely to not admit they did. Everyone in the group could go to the professor saying they wrote such and such part of the paper, with none taking responsibility for the copied portion.

My advice for the next group project is to check it BEFORE you turn it in. First, make sure everyone in your group knows you will be checking. Services to do this can be found online. I have used turnitin.com for classes before (and your professor is likely using this or a similar service to check your papers. using this website, you are able to check your own papers to make sure sources are correctly cited and "common wordings" don't set off any "alarms" for online checks. The only downfall to using site such as turnitin.com (sorry, I dont know of any others) is you have to pay for the service. I would say, however, that it is well worth avoiding a zero on a big project.

See if your group would be willing to split the cost of the check, and if not, really ask yourself if your grade is worth it (the answer should be YES!)

I understand that group work can be frustrating, and very rarely reflects one's ability to work in a group in real-life situations. That in mind, you know that there will almost always be group work assigned in classes, you just have to deal with it the best you can. Use the group work to shine, show off the fact that you are able to coordinate with others and produce good work. Take it upon yourself to check the paper for plagiarism, grammar, etc. Yes, it's extra work. Yes, you will probably end up resenting one or more members of your group. Yes, it will be worth it to earn the grade you want. No, you probably wont' regret spending that extra time ten years down the road.

GOOD LUCK! It would be great to hear how that final group project turns out!

Wow. That is really harsh. I had an instructor that was a stickler for correctly citing sources. On one particular paper, everyone in our group had to redo it and resubmit it since it was not in the new APA format at the time. And I thought that was harsh since we had to do it over in 24 hrs and hand it in.

Sorry, you had to go through this.

If your car is pulled over carrying 5 people and one person has prescription pills in their pocket, the other 4 shouldn't be charged with a crime. The same logic applies here, if your group broke a rule because of one person's mistake, the others shouldn't be penalized.

Once again I don't understand how simple issues can't be fixed easily.

Merlyn

Specializes in none.

In my Nursing Fundamentals class we had to do a group presentation and write a paper about how the group worked together to achieve our teaching goals. We turned the paper in on Monday. Today we all got an email that we needed to meet with our instructor. We raced in there, where she handed us the program plagiarism policy. She proceeded to tell us that there was a blatant case of plagiarism in our paper. She understands that only one of us wrote that part of the paper but since we all agreed that the paper was good enough to hand in, that we were all getting a zero for the paper. She said we were lucky that we weren't kicked out. She said that she had discussed it with all of the staff and the dean and they decided that a zero was the least punishment for the group.

Now the girl who did it was really upset because she had cited the book and was providing the rationale that was required. It turns out however that the person who did our references neglected to include this cite. She instead made up her own cite for this reference and screwed it up by only citing the last page of the book. She had not been a very good team player the whole presentation, and now this. The funny thing is, we all emailed her our references in APA format. All she had to do is put them all on one page. That's it. And she couldn't even do that right.

Does anyone know if there is anyway to fight this without making things worse?

You are lucky the teacher just gave you a zero. Plagiarism is the quickest way to get kicked out of school. You can try to fight it, but my advise is don't. No matter who is to blame, you were a team. If one does something wrong, then all do something wrong. Plagiarism demeans the entire class. It is a slap in the face to the other teams on this project that didn't make things up.

If your car is pulled over carrying 5 people and one person has prescription pills in their pocket, the other 4 shouldn't be charged with a crime. The same logic applies here, if your group broke a rule because of one person's mistake, the others shouldn't be penalized.

Once again I don't understand how simple issues can't be fixed easily.

If it were that easy, I'm sure the professor would have figured out who was causing the problem and only penalize this one person. Unfortunately for the OP, it isn't that simple. the poster didn't mention whether the professor specifically told them the problem was with their single poorly written citation, but if it was, then the poster at least knows what to look out for next time. If the problem was with another plagiarism of which the poster was not aware, then the issue may very well have been with a different group member who has refused to come forward and admit their mistake (purposeful or not). If it were simply a citation problem (and this has been stated multiple times), the punishment was VERY overzealous. However, one would suspect that if this professor is not out to get their students-and most aren't-so it is likely something else wrong with the paper. In this case, whoever caused the problem has not and will not take responsibility for their actions and the OP is in a position where they have indeed turned in a paper with "stolen" content. To go along with your drugs in a car analogy, this would be more like 5 people riding in a stolen car. It's much more likely that everyone will be charged even if only one person actually stole the car. If nobody will admit they stole the car on their own...who to punish?

To the Daisie: Another suggestion for the next group project would be to get the project done early and turn the paper in to your professor for review before the actual submission. Many professors are more than willing to go over a paper with you and help you to make it stronger, or point out any major errors in citation.

RunforFun...you bring up good points and remind me that there are always two ways to look at a situation. However, if I use your scenario of 5 people in a stolen car then you help prove my point. If all occupants flee from the car and are pursued by police, catching the driver is paramount b/c they know that catching the other 4 means they don't have as good of a case. It's cops and robbers 101. If they are all caught, then all are questioned to get to the heart of the situation. The reason here is that catching people in a stolen car doesn't mean they stole it in the eyes of a judge or by a panel of their peers. The facts stated from each one in the car is paramount. If the other 4 all say the same thing about the 5th occupant, then the 5th occupant has the burden to prove innocence. It would not matter if that 5th occupant stayed quiet or lied. 4 people all saying the same thing is quite condeming. After this they would have court proceedings where 9 times out of 10 only 1 will be charged, namely the driver.

Now, your point about having more issues than what the OP stated could be true. If that is so, then throw out all I've said and nothing applies. I'm only addressing the scenario as she stated it.

I believe that blame should in most cases be placed on those who carry the weight of wrongdoing. I think this applies to school, work, and life in general. We might see it differently if we had been thrown in a group with the bad apple and had no say so as to who we worked with. It's why most of us hate group projects. It's also why we cringe at the thought of an instructor who hands out zero's to the whole.