I am currently a graduate student and will be graduating this december with an MBA. This past summer I was accused of plagiarism from the professor who reported me directly to judicial affairs without speaking to me first. The judicial affairs officer then asked me to bring in my sources which I did and explained it was a unintentional mistake. The turn-it-in report showed 24% plagiarism where one of the sources was something that I forgot to include in my final paper. I brought that source in and explained that during my 6 years at that university I haven't had any other troubles with this and that a 1st time offense like this should be dropped but she still found me guilty of. I then appealed it and asked for a hearing which will be happening in about 3 weeks. It will have a panel of 3 people who will then hear my case and decide whether they should drop it or find me guilty of it. Another thing is that professor has very bad reviews and has done this to many students, and I was not able to take a look at those reviews before registering for the course. I also ended up dropping it so I have no idea why they are still doing the hearing. Also I went to the professors office after meeting the judicial affairs officer and asked her if I could drop the course and she told me I couldn't so I told her that the officer told me I could so she called the officer and they were having a very casual and friendly conversation and the officer told her I could drop the class at the end of the conversation. From that conversation though, I realized that she was a not a neutral 3rd party that she said she was at the start of my 1st meeting with her and she would favor the professor no matter what. I'm not sure how I should handle this and what arguments I should present for my defense? I am allowed to bring an attorney if I wish to do so but I'm not sure if I should do that as well? I'm applying to dental schools this year and I really do not want this on my academic record especially since it has been so clean for the past 6 years at the University. Please advise me as to how I should go about this? Thank you
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You are allowed to bring an attorney or other representative to these board hearings at your discretion. If the turn it in showed 24%, you are going to have to work to point out that this is a minimal amount and then you are going to have to demonstrate how the portion of the paper they are accusing you of was human error and was not an intentional plagiarism. The problem with these cases is that a student either plagiarized or they did not, it is a fairly black and white issue as to the plagiarism itself as it is apparent in the paper. Thus, the attack has to be based on the fact it was NOT INTENTIONAL and it was an accidental error because of forgetting to insert a citation and how everyone makes such human errors and you need to push that even though they may choose to find you guilty the punishment should be no more severe than a verbal reprimand which typically can be removed from your file after 1 year. To help prove this was human error you need to bring the volume of your resources to show the sheer volume of those compared to what was in your paper and it is up to you to make them understand how the mistake took place. You need to focus on how this was a mistake and not something you intended to do and how it would have not made sense, especially given your long clean record, to do this intentionally knowing that the paper would be checked through a plagiarism site. One other thing you can do, which may be a little underhanded, is to get some papers written by your professor and perhaps anyone you may know on the board and check them through turn it in as well and see what comes up. Sometimes, you may be surprised, you may find that one of them has done the same exact thing and you can then seek to use that to your advantage by showing that it can happen to anyone. For a professor, plagiarism, even some that took place before their hiring, can devastate their career and again, you never know what will pop up with your search, so it is worth you spending your time.
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