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Matthew Slaughter

Dr. Butela

Foundations of Scientific Inquiry

10 November 2016

Ethics Reflection

The committee was unethical in denying Jill from the summer research fellowship. They

did not discuss this problem about any of the other students. None of the committee emailed or

reached out to Jill or professor Manson. Also, they did not know for sure if the students already

accepted plagiarized or not. Dr. Brown even said he read some proposals that seemed to be

copied and pasted. Since they know copying and pasting is occurring, it is unfair they deny Jill

from suspicion when they accepted other students’ proposals who potentially took the same

approach as Jill did.

The approach the committee took was unethical and unfair to Jill. Since she is only a

sophomore, she did not have a good idea of what she should have done for the proposal due to

inexperience. Most of the other students that turned in their proposals are probably in the same

situation. If the committee is basing who gets accepted and who gets denied off of plagiarism,

they need to take all of the proposals into consideration. There needed to be a concrete decision

whether or not they ignore the plagiarism and accept based on the designated measures, or accept

the ones that are strictly from the student’s thoughts. Jill does not deserve to be denied when

other students are being accepted, even though they copied and pasted some manuals too.

Dealing with anything competitive, there needs to be set rules so it is fair to everyone. The

awards committee needed to know exactly what the guidelines were before they started

interpreting the proposals.

A different and ethical approach the committee could have taken was to unaccept all the

accepted proposals and reread through all of them again. This time they should check to see

what is funky or offset for a younger student to type in a proposal. If sentences or sections are

noticeably copied, that proposal should be at the bottom of the list and unaccepted. The

acceptance should be based on how well the student performed on the proposal, not the best

proposal that had plagiarized information in it. All of the awards committee members should

have read through each proposal to hopefully ensure there was no plagiarism and then discuss

which proposals are better, that aren’t plagiarized. Overall, the committee should have

categorized the non-plagiarized proposals together and decided which ones get accepted from

that. If they run out of non-plagiarized proposals to accept, then they can decide what were the

best proposals that were plagiarized. Also, the rejections letters should explain to the students

that they were denied because of plagiarism. This will help the students in the future because

they will ensure all of their proposals, or any other paper or project they do, will not be

plagiarized. Denying students because of plagiarism could also prevent other consequences in

the future, such as losing scholarships or being kicked out of college. Overall, it is best to deny

the students if they plagiarize because it will teach them to never do it again and prevent them

from losing money and/or jeopardizing their future.

Regarding Jill, if I were her I would email or try to get ahold of the committee so I can

figure out why I was denied. Learning what I did wrong drastically helps and prepares me for

the next assignment. If I knew I got denied for plagiarizing, I surely would never do it again if it

could prevent me from achieving something that meant so much me. Also, I would ask for a

different professor, that was actually present when I was working on the proposal. Considering

it is something new to me and I am an inexperienced sophomore, consistent guidance is much

needed. New faculty member(s) could be provided that were not busy to help me out and

explain concepts I didn’t understand. Also, I would have questioned the graduate student when

he said “It doesn’t matter”. I would have had the same uneasy feeling Jill had if that was said to

me about something with great significance. If he told me I would understand the concepts in a

week or two, I would have asked for some insight on it right then. Instead of just relying on

what he said, I would take an active approach and question him to try and learn as much as

possible. Another thing I would do is ask for the proposal to be due at a different time. It would

be very inconvenient to have to put a lot of time into reading and writing a proposal, while also

preparing for exams. There could possibly be an alternative due date when school was not so

busy, allowing me to focus entirely on the proposal.

Dealing with Dr. Brown’s situation, if I were him, I would have not only investigated Jill

and Dr. Manson, but all the other plagiarized papers too. Investigating the issue and

communicating with the students and professors would help solve the issue and prevent it in the

future. For something competitive, such as being accepted in the URP, the results and papers

need to be legitimate. All proposals need to be strictly from each student’s own thoughts and

research so the committee can truly know which students created the better proposal. Also if I

was Dr. Brown, I would have thought the same thing he did, involving education over

punishment. Since the students are just starting out, they are inexperienced and probably did not

realize how major plagiarizing some relevant segments were. Although she kind of had a feeling

it was wrong, she was encouraged by an “experienced” graduate student to copy. This enforced

the idea that copying was fine to do. Dr. Brown wants the students to understand the proper

conduct rather than being punished, which I completely agree with.

Although the committee did discuss some good points to whether Jill should be accepted

or denied, it was unethical to deny her. It was unfair she was denied because she was accused of

plagiarism when the committee knew there were other students plagiarizing. If she was denied

because of that circumstance, all the other students who copied should be denied too. The

committee did not take other student’s proposals into consideration either, which is so unfair

towards Jill’s paper. Since this was competitive in receiving funding for the program, other

students’ proposals should have been questioned that indicated plagiarism too.