college cheating, plagiarism, cheating

Expelled Student Sues Classmate Over Accusations of Plagiarism

November 21, 2008 09:04 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
A student expelled from Central Connecticut State University for plagiarism claims he was wrongly accused, and that another student really copied his work.

Plagiarism Disagreement

When Matthew Coster was expelled from Central Connecticut State University in 2006 for plagiarism, he was adamant that he’d done nothing wrong. Yet a paper he wrote about the Holocaust was “nearly identical” to a classmate’s, except that Coster’s contained grammatical and spelling errors, The Hartford Courant reported.

Coster, who now attends school at a community college, maintains his innocence today. He and his family have sued his former classmate, Cristina Duquette, whose work Coster allegedly copied, according to The Hartford Courant.

Both Coster and Duquette turned their papers in to their professor via e-mail attachment because the professor said he had not received their work on time. Coster, however, says he had not missed the assignment’s due date.

Coster’s family hired an independent technology consultant who found that Coster’s e-mail attachment was created on May 14, 2006. On May 15, Coster made final edits to his paper, and then he said he put his paper in the professor’s unsecured mailbox.

The computer analysis found Duquette’s document was created on May 23. Coster’s attorney says that information proves Coster’s innocence, and that Duquette removed his paper from the mailbox. But Duquette’s attorney suggested the later date on her work was an “inadvertent change” that happened while saving the file, The Hartford Courant reported.

The computer analyst did admit that it is possible to change date stamps on a computer file. However, he said the method used to evaluate the authenticity of the date stamps is reliable.

Coster’s trial is expected to finish by Nov. 22.

Related Topics: Cheating; plagiarism vs. paraphrasing

Cheating is nothing new in schools around the world. This year, an anonymous study revealed that almost half of students attending England’s prestigious Cambridge University have plagiarized a paper; the percentage is even higher for law students. Some students claimed they were simply overwhelmed by the workload, whereas others insisted they didn’t realize they were cheating.
It appears ignorance truly could be a problem in some plagiarism cases. Ohio University student Allison Routman was recently expelled from a Semester at Sea program for plagiarizing some phrases from a Wikipedia entry in a paper she wrote. Routman, a senior, said she didn’t know she’d done something wrong; she had not copied full sentences from the Wikipedia page.

“No one had ever defined paraphrasing for me,” Routman explained. “It was one of those things I'd kind of heard; I didn't think of what it was.”

Reference: Plagiarism


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