Aug 14, 2016
2
0
Status
Pre-Medical
During the fall 2015 of my junior year I wrote a paper for my honors college class (Oxford) explaining my undergraduate research and my plans to publish a thesis over it. The honors college requires every student to publish a thesis before they graduate, and Oxford is a class to help students begin researching and creating outlines for their future thesis projects.

When explaining my research (I had begun merely a couple weeks before) in the Oxford paper I asked my research professor what I should say. He sent me a two partial sections of his unpublished grant proposal over the research we were doing. Having signed a binding agreement with the research professor through the Honors College that he would be mentor and thesis advisor I believed at the time that anything I wrote in this paper for the Oxford class would represent both him and I.

Being native in this situation I used my research professor's grant proposal to help me explain the research I would be doing to write my thesis over. Having only a few weeks of research completed I was still confused on the methodology and mission statement, so I used/copied almost word-for-word my research professor's grant proposal in these sections because I didn't want to explain my research wrong.

After submitting my paper I gave an additional copy to my research professor so he would be up to date on my progress. The next day I got called into a meeting with my research professor and Oxford tutorial professor, and they asked me why I had plagiarized his work while citing all my other sources. I was in complete shock because I thought since the grant proposal is unpublished, that I was merely an extension of his authorship and represented him instead of myself and I believed I didn't need to cite him. Scientists do not cite their own grant proposals in their publications, so I thought for a simple paper for a class I definitely wouldn't since I was under his authority and authorship.

I realize now how idiotic that mistake was and how easy it would have been to avoid. After discussing the circumstances with my professors they agreed that even though I did not intentionally plagiarize his work, ethically they believed they still had to report it so that if a mistake like this ever happen again my future professors would know that I have had a previous offense. I was filed for academic misconduct, but they decided to keep my grade as an A because they didn't think my situation was intentional.

I did not file for an appeal, because even though I was outraged by the situation I knew that it was my mistake and I had to own up and accept to consequences. That week I wrote formal apology letters to both professors involved and to my school. In addition to that I attended two different plagiarism seminars to ensure I would never make a mistake like this again. That next semester I held a presentation for the younger classes in my fraternity and the honors college over my experience, the knowledge I learned, the effects it can have on their future, and how to prevent mistakes similar to mine to happen. My senior year I served on the Greek console judicial board, and used this position to hold myself and my Greek community to a higher standard.

My question is, how will this impact me during my application process this year for MD schools. I have a 3.85 GPA, 515 MCAT. I may not have a perfect application, but I believe it is definitely very competitive. My only concern is my academic misconduct. I would appreciate any advice on my chances, similar situations, how I should approach the Academic Violation portion on the AMCAS, if I should write about this in my PS, etc.

I sincerely apologize for the long post. I wanted to make sure my situation was explained thoroughly enough for you all to make the most accurate judgement.
 
Last edited:

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
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Somewhere west of St. Louis
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I don't know what's going to be more of a problem, and you have a serious problem:

-That you plagiarized his work.

-That you didn't see anything wrong with plagiarizing his work.

I'm getting more of a whiff of "I had only two weeks to get this done so I plagiarized his work".

All I can add is that you should try the app cycle and see how it goes. If you get shut out, you'll know why.

And next time, use paragraphs. The wall of text is hard to wade through.





During the fall 2015 of my junior year I wrote a paper for my honors college class (Oxford) explaining my undergraduate research and my plans to publish a thesis over it.
 
OP
A
Aug 14, 2016
2
0
Status
Pre-Medical
At the time of the incident, I didn't think what I was doing was plagiarism. If I had, I wouldn't of done it. If I would have put quotation marks around my mission statement, and added in-text citations to my methodology section then I would have been completely fine. Out of 10 pages, I only used his grant proposal in two paragraphs. My other 9.5 pages and 15 sources were properly cited. I'm not cheater, and I am definitely not lazy.

The reason I say this is to find out how to clearly explain that my situation: 1) Was not intentional 2) I've learned and matured?

In no circumstance do I believe plagiarism is acceptable nor is it something to take lightly. However, given that my plagiarism was an intentional mistake and both professors agreed my grade should not change over this, does that not seem to hold any weight?

My Oxford professor told me she would write a letter on my behalf to testify for my character and work ethic. Should I have her write the letter as a letter of evaluation or have it submitted to the medical schools I apply to directly?
 
Aug 16, 2016
25
4
Status
Attending Physician
It is essential to ask your professor to write a letter on your behalf, and to acknowledge the problem in your application.

Do not excuse your actions. For goodness sake don't say anything like "out of 10 pages, I only used his grant proposal in two paragraphs" or "I was outraged by the situation" because that sounds like you are still not aware of the seriousness of your error. Do not refer to time pressure. Refer to 1) your ignorance and inexperience 2) how appreciative you are of it being brought to your attention immediately and that faculty were gracious about allowing you to fix the error 3) how quick you were to understand and fix the problem when it was brought to your attention 3) that you now realize that it is critical to identify the ideas of collaborators and 5) that you understand that there are times you will need to identify and acknowledge the limitations of your knowledge, and seek guidance. In this case you should have acknowledged your ignorance and asked your professor to review your paper before you submitted it. What you should have done is ensured you did understand what would be your own research before you submitted the paper. Since you didn't, you should have talked to your professor about it.

For goodness sake apply. Your chances are excellent.

For the future, scientists do not cite their grant proposals because their grant proposals have not undergone the sort of scientific scrutiny that an article has undergone. However, referring to someone's unpublished work or proposed work must be treated with extra caution as there is a potential that someone else will be used by another person.