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Oh No! Plagiarism!

Dear Group Work Guru,

I am freaking out. I am the editor of my team's group project and I am pretty sure that one of our group members plagiarized their section. What I am supposed to do now?

Help help help!

Freaked out Frosh

P.S. Help help help!

Dear Frosh,

I'm very sorry that this is happening to you.

Plagiarism is a very serious offense in universities. It's serious enough to get you expelled. The Drexel University Code of Conduct is very clear that plagiarism is not tolerated. Under no circumstances should you turn in work that you know is plagiarized. If your name is on the assignment, there are serious consequences, even if you weren't the one who did the plagiarizing.

Here are some steps to take if you suspect plagiarism.

1. Communicate to everyone in your group about your concerns about the writing/citing/intellectual contributions. Explain to them where the problems are and why you think that sections may need work before turning it in. If it's a matter of some better citing of sources or paraphrasing, work with your team to redo it.

2. If the plagiarism is rampant, obvious, and cannot be easily fixed, you have to tell your professor.

3. In the meantime, continue to work with your entire group to fix the problems and eliminate all the plagiarized sections.

4. If the majority of your group believe that the teammate who submitted the plagiarized section can't or won't fix it in time to turn in the project, alert your professor.

5. If it's not fixable, you can ask your professor to grade each section separately or come up with an alternative that will you allow to get credit for your effort.

Even though confronting another group member about plagiarism is the right thing to do, it can be very stressful. Do your best to keep it classy and try to keep the lines of communication open with all your group members. If you feel overwhelmed, please set up some time to talk to your adviser.

Remember that your goal here is to protect your own academic integrity. It's not about making sure plagiarists get punished or that justice is served.

You're doing the right thing for everyone.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Grouptaciously yours,

Group Work Guru

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