How to avoid plagiarism at university
Have you ever had that one friend that steals your joke that was really good? Not funny, right? Well here at StFX, as Drake would say, we “can’t take a joke ‘cause it’s not one.”
On a serious note, on every course syllabus you will find a brief description of the “Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures,” which outlines the university’s “Code of Academic Conduct.” Read this carefully as it outlines the “offenses against academic integrity,” such as plagiarism, cheating, falsification, and tampering, as well as the potential penalties for violating the Code of Academic Conduct. The Code operates on “five fundamental values,” which go as follows:
- “advances the quest for truth and knowledge by acknowledging intellectual and personal honesty in learning, teaching, research, and service;
- fosters a climate of mutual trust, encourages the free exchange of ideas, and enables all to reach their highest potential;
- establishes clear standards, practices, and procedures and expects fairness in interactions amongst students, faculty, staff, and administrators;
- recognizes the participatory nature of the learning process and honours and respects a wide range of opinions and ideas; and,
- upholds personal responsibility and accountability and depends upon action in the face of wrong-doing.”
Here at The Xaverian Weekly, we describe plagiarism as “The presentation of the work of another author in such a way as to give one’s reader reason to think it to be one’s own.” This does not mean that using another person’s work is not permitted; quite the opposite in fact, having multiple sources is imperative to the production of accurate argumentative writing. Citing and quoting relevant work is the necessary if one is to include the ideas, thoughts, and research of others into their own work in order to improve their arguments and accuracy.
Just recently, there was an unfortunate, yet fantastic example of plagiarism within the mainstream gaming journalism sphere. A now former employee of IGN Entertainment, Filip Miucin, recently posted his review of a game from French developer Motion Twin, called Dead Cells. The game, described by the developer as “a rogue-lite, Castlevania-inspired action-platformer” released on August 7th, 2018 to raving reviews, netting itself an astonishing 90/100 on Metacritic, the benchmark for a video game’s success. However, a controversy began on August 6th, 2018 when a relatively small YouTuber Boomstick Gaming posted a video tilted “IGN Copied my Dead Cells Review: What do I do?” which has amassed over 1 million views. The video shows a side-by-side comparison of Boomstick’s review and Miucin’s review on IGN, which was posted two weeks after Boomstick Gaming’s review. The similarities are abundantly clear: not only does Miucin only slightly alter the word choices of the original review, but the sequencing is identical, with the talking points of each video flowing simultaneously.
Jason Schreier, a well-known and well-respected games journalist from Kotaku has been chronicling the events of the situation as they have unfolded. In his article, “IGN Pulls Review After Plagiarism Accusations,” Schreier transcribed each video, placing each talking point side-by-side, only serving to make the similarities all the more apparent. Throughout the course of events, Schreier updated his articles to include IGN’s formal apology and public announcement of their letting go of Miucin, as well as two “tipsters” who made Schreier aware of two other examples of substantial similarities between past reviews of Miucin’s to a competitor’s review. The reviews in question were of Nintendo Life’s Fifa 18 and Engadget’s Metroid: Samus Returns. Through transcribing each review, the side-by-side comparison is just as bad as the Dead Cells review which put these events in motion.
Filip Miucin posted a video to his personal YouTube channel on August 11, 2018, in which one would expect a public apology. This was not the case. Miucin dodged around the fact that he indeed plagiarised the review of Boomstick Gaming stating that “the bottom line is that what happened with the Dead Cells review was not at all intentional.” Remember the fifth fundamental value of our Code of Academic Conduct, responsibility. Despite his wrongdoing of what seems to be multiple accounts of plagiarism, an appropriate apology is the first step in regaining his integrity; unfortunately, what he has done is far worse. Not taking responsibility for his actions, claiming their supposed unintentionality, is a true show of character. Unfortunately the original video is not available as Miucin promptly took it down, however Jason Schreier continued to follow the course of events in his article “Former IGN Reviewer Responds to Plagiarism Allegations: ‘Not at all Intentional’,” in which Schreier notes that Miucin said “You can keep looking, Kotaku, and please let me know if you find anything,” a direct jab at Schreier for doing his job as a reporter.
I hope that with such a clear example of what-not-to-do, you understand the severity of plagiarism, especially in a university environment. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to ensure you avoid plagiarism and properly include sources into your work. Professors are always willing to help out or point you in the right direction. The Student Success Centre, located in the library, is designed to help students out with all things academic. OWL Purdue is a fantastic internet resource full of examples to ensure you are citing properly, for both APA and MLA styles; and finally, ask a friend for help. Upper year students in your classes or residence may be able to help edit your work with the experience they have gained at StFX. The bottom line is this: if you don’t know, just ask – there are plenty of people willing to help out around campus.
“Code of Ethics.” Xaverian Weekly. 2018.
“Dead Cells.” Metacritic. Accessed 11 August 2018. http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/dead-cells
Dead Cells, Motion Twin. 2018. https://dead-cells.com/
“IGN Copied my Dead Cells Review: What do I do? [I'm handling it].” YouTube, uploaded by Boomstick Gaming, 6 August, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKF6xnvaCsE&t=2s
Schreier, Jason. “IGN Pulls Review After Plagiarism Accusations [UPDATE: Writer Fired].” Kotaku, 11 August 2018. https://kotaku.com/ign-pulls-review-after-plagiarism-accusations-1828157939
Schreier, Jason. “Former IGN Reviewer Responds To Plagiarism Allegations: ‘Not At All Intentional’ [UPDATES: Third Review Questioned, Video Removed].” Kotaku, 11 August 11, 2018. https://kotaku.com/former-ign-reviewer-responds-to-plagiarism-allegations-1828273219
St. Francis Xavier University. (2006). Academic integrity policies and procedures [PDF file]. Antigonish, NS: St. Francis Xavier University. Retrieved from http://www.sites.stfx.ca/registrars_office/sites/sites.stfx.ca.registrars_office/files/acade mic-integrity-document.pdf
The Student Success Centre. Saint Francis Xavier University. 2018. https://sites.stfx.ca/ssc/