I have been accused of plagiarism from my prof, since I have an answer from a Facebook page based on our course, and a lot of students got their answers from there. The Facebook page has previous labs and assignments from graduate students or senior students who have already done the course, thus there were around 14 students with the same mistake including me. But I went through my university web site and it states for the TEACHING ASSISTANT (TA) that:

Academic Dishonesty in Laboratory Environments

Academic dishonesty is a serious problem in undergraduate labs. This is partly because the culture of lab courses sometimes fosters plagiarism. Lab exercises may remain unchanged for years, making it relatively easy to obtain lab reports from previous students. Since students generally work in pairs, the distinction between acceptable and unacceptable collaboration can become blurred. And sometimes lab work is simply not taken as seriously as other scholarly work. The main forms of academic dishonesty in laboratory classes are:

Plagiarism in laboratory assignments and reports

Among some students there is an academic culture that accepts a certain degree of academic dishonesty in labs. Students buy and sell lab reports from the previous year and some try to "help" junior students by "handing down" lab material. When such conduct is common, it becomes acceptable, and many students may not realize the element of dishonesty involved. In addition, in most cases the entire class is writing up the same report, so there is bound to be an enormous exchange of information.

I think the paragraph above says that at this point this academic dishonesty becomes acceptable. Does that sort my issue at any point?

  • 9
    It means that students believe this is acceptable, not that the university policy considers it acceptable. The page you took this from is giving advice to TAs on how to disabuse students of this notion.
    – ff524
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 3:45
  • disabuse to students? would this keep on a safer side if there are also 12 to 15 students with the same mistake since they all got the answer from uploaded labs on facebook page and coursehero. Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 5:42

2 Answers 2


You are misreading that passage.

"It becomes acceptable" is intended to mean "acceptable to the students". To rephrase:

When such conduct is common, students come to believe that it is acceptable.

But such students would be mistaken in that belief, from the institution's point of view. I think the clear meaning of the passage is that such conduct is not acceptable to the institution and is considered plagiarism and academic dishonesty.


The text that you quote is written a bit confusingly: I think that it is trying to say that even if students view a behavior as acceptable "because everyone is doing it", that behavior is still not acceptable.

In the end, dishonesty is dishonesty. If you claim to have done a piece of work, but you did not do that work, then you are being dishonest. When that work is a creative effort, we call it plagiarism.

Even if somehow your institution had a policy that allowed such dishonesty, it would still be dishonest. When you progress further in academia or industry, if you continue to engage in such behavior, it can end your career in an instant when it is discovered.

  • yes i fully understand, and i was honest to my professor that i got it from the stundents facebook page and he himself said that i was being honest and true but i still have to meet the dean regarding this, i really dont know how to handle this at this moment since this is my last semester Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 4:35
  • i also asked a lawyer and he said that the school accepts this kind of plaigarism at some extend since this kind of act is un stoppable and students will always buy and sell labs and thus it can never be stopped Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 4:36
  • 2
    @wessamshaukat I think you're going to need to meet with the dean and keep being honest. If you try to lawyer your way out, it is likely that things will go worse for you.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 4:50
  • yes sir, i will have to do that , but apparently there are 14 other students who have the same mistake since they got it from the facebook page, i wont be including any lawyer , i just went to get an advice over that paragraph as stated above. i dont know what kind of words or statement i should use to mellow his thoughts on imposing a penalty over a 4th year student. Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 4:57
  • 1
    @wessamshaukat .."what kind of words or statement i should use to mellow...". Simple. "I really screwed up. I should not have done such a stupid and dishonest thing. I am really sorry. Is there any way I can make up for my stupid mistake? "
    – Alexandros
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 12:21

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