Applying Ethical Standards: Plagiarism and Cheating


October 8, 2013 by idinnovation

Plagiarism is a huge issue in education and organizations, most Learning Management Systems have built in plagiarism detection software.  Employee policies can differ from business to business but penalties can range from temporary leave, leave without pay to termination (Greenleaf). Students participating in distance learning courses can use free software to check and correct any plagiarism that occurs in assignments prior to submission using websites such as Dupli CheckerPlag Tracker or Plagiarism detect are some of the free ones.

In the educational environment learners cheat about as often in online courses as they do in the traditional environment (Laureate Education, Inc., 2013). I’ve seen if far and wide in the development of marketing and training materials. Some companies use images that are found on the web without obtaining the permission of the owners. From my experience this occurs more often in the field of training than it does in marketing.  What people have to keep in mind however, is that graphics created by another designer, or photographs, which they do not own when used without permission, is plagiarism. The rules are simple graphics and images that are created by others require written permission, you can use it is the source offers use free of charge or through obtaining a license to use the product (Brookins).

Some examples of this are:

  • Taking credit for idea that are not your own;
  • Not listing all of the resources that were used;
  • Using blog content which you have not cited and claiming it as your own (Brookins);
  • Reusing assignments from previous courses (Laureate Education, Inc., 2013)

If plagiarism has occurred in the workplace it sometimes can create tension.  I think using software such as Turnitin can assist people in ensuring they are appropriately citing sources. It is the role of the online course facilitator to teach students about copyright, fair use, plagiarism and cheating (Laureate Education, Inc., 2013).

As noted in Performance Improvement Quarterly employee of human resources development specifically should “seek to promote integrity in their research, teaching and practice”.  Having integrity is a underlying major component in being both a scholar and researcher.  Citing sources and ensuring that materials that are created not only by you but by your team is essential in maintaining an ethical environment.  Some things that writers can do to avoid plagiarism are:

  • Read materials and them step away from them before paraphrasing them without relooking at the source.
  • Cite your sources and add quotations marks when content is used verbatim.
  • Learn the difference between what is considered common knowledge and content that should be referenced.
  • Ensure that both you and your organization get the permission required for the use of the materials.  Consider that individuals using content permissions sometimes differ from organization (Girard, 2004).

Organizations have a low tolerance for plagiarism.  Employers often assume that employees have an understanding of what it is and how to avoid it.  The primary reason organizations take such a hardline approach to plagiarism in organizations is because their reputations are on the line when employees plagiarism both inside and outside materials. Employee policies can differ from business to business but penalties can range from temporary leave, leave without pay to termination (Greenleaf).  


Brookins, M. (?). Examples of plagiarism in the workplace. Retrieved October 08, 2012, from

Girard, N. (2004) Plagiarism: An ethical problem in the writing world. Retrieved October 08, 2012, from (06)60837-5/fulltext

Greenleaf, J. (?) What is the penalty for Plagiarism? Retrieved October 08, 2012, from,

Laureate Education, Inc. (2013) Plagiarism and Cheating, retrieved on October 8, 2013 from


6 thoughts on “Applying Ethical Standards: Plagiarism and Cheating

  1. Learning IDT says:

    Hi Sharifa,

    Prior to enrolling at Walden, I did not know reusing my own work from “previous courses” as Dr. Palloff noted in (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) was considered plagiarism. And I still struggle with paraphrasing occasionally. As our resources this week suggest educating students what is and is not considered plagiarism is essential in minimizing academic dishonesty, at least the unintentional ones. You also bring up a great point about employers’ assumption that their employees understand the Do’s and Don’ts of plagiarism. Not to sound pessimistic but I am not so sure that corporations (not all of them) sincerely try to combat plagiarism. I think they sometimes turn a blind eye so to speak, or devise creative ways of defending themselves from accusations. As long as the bottom line for corporations is profit, my opinion is that they will do whatever is necessary to get there, including plagiarism and cheating. Case in point is the 2007/2008 Wall Street financial disaster, (, and most recently the Apple-Samsung patent lawsuit ( Dan Ariely in his book Predictably Irrational. The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, provides an amazing insight, with numerous real-life examples, into why we do what we do, including being dishonest. It’s a fascinating book to read if you get a chance and relates to what we are discussing this week.

    Excellent post!


    Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and Cheating.

    • idinnovation says:

      Hi Marta, I cant see why using your own work is plagiarism aside for as the video noted the learner is expected to do work for the current course. I think personally it is okay as long as new text is created. I think most organization do use images without properly licensing them. I take this behavior very seriously though in my organization and offer to give people images that I have access to in order to get them to delete the ones they have used without permission. Organizations expect people to do their jobs, part of doing your job means following the rules.

  2. marlarobles says:

    It is interesting that you note images as a source of plagiarism. In my experience, this is where most digital plagiarism occurs. I have not experienced any other form of plagiarism in my online courses. However, one of the other students in my courses has experienced plagiarism of text. Do you think that educating students as to plagiarism laws and fair use needs to occur at the graduate level? I realize that Dr. Paloff recommends this (Laureate Education, Inc., 2010). However, I ask because these are lessons occurring in the local middle school and high school. Is this only occurring in my localized schools or does it occur globally? What do you think?


    Laureate Education, Inc. (2010) Plagiarism and Cheating, retrieved on October 8, 2013 from

    • idinnovation says:

      Hi Marla, Thank you for responding to my post. I agree with you that digital plagiarism occurs most often. I’ve experienced plagiarism in my courses at Walden. In one of my courses someone said that they had created their project for work!! The instructors said something to them in the open forum and then took care of it behind the scenes. I think a short video maybe 5 minutes of so should be presented to students informing them of the expectations and ramifications in regards to plagiarism. I checked with my mom who is an administrator for the San Francisco Unified School District and she said that they indeed teach students about plagiarism.

  3. Patricia D. Beamon says:

    Hi Sharifa,

    Your blog post this week was right on target. I learned a few classes back that even when posting graphics we must give credit for the pictures we use. There was a time when I would use pictures I found on the web in assignments and I did not give credit to the originators. After learning better I now know that “anything” used in addition to my own original work has to be given credit (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.). How do you feel about not being able to use your own material from previous classes? I have never used an entire assignment but I have used portions of material I created.

    Very well done as always Sharifa.


    Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). Plagiarism and cheating.

  4. idt2me says:


    Great blog post. Thanks for bringing your business experience to the discussion with this blog. I find it interesting that you point out that companies are worried about their reputations as opposed to being worried about being ethical. Also, great point about online cheating vs. face-to-face classrooms brought by Palloff and Pratt (n.d.). While I want them to be right, I would love to see the research they base this claim on. Any opinions on whether students are using software to alter submission to avoid detection or using them to make sure they cited properly? Jocoy and DiBiase (2006) seem to argue that students are using the software to avoid getting caught plagiarizing. Also, why do you think images are more frequently “borrowed” in by training departments?

    Sorry I was all over the place with my reply.




    Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.
    Palloff, R. and Pratt, K. (n.d.). Plagiarism and Cheating. Presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved October 8, 2013 from

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