Need advice with ethical matters (unintentional plagiarism & intentional dishonesty)

posted
29-Mar-16, 13:44
by r90
Avatar for r90
posted about 1 year ago
A masters student, I am trying to understand and separate between the actual real consequences of my actions and the exaggerations of my mind (I suffer from Moral Scrupulosity/OCD).

I have committed 2 acts of academic dishonesty 4 and 5 years ago:

Unintentional plagiarism and self-plagiarism: I used to copy-paste online information without quotation marks but still referenced at the end thinking that it's okay as long as I am citing (even during some of my master's assignments); honestly, this is what I knew back then and I never had the intention to deceive someone that I own the ideas or something... and just recently I learned how to properly cite using Harvard style (adequate paraphrasing, quotation marks, correct citation format, etc...). As for self-plagiarism, I presented a web application as a senior project which was developed for a purpose outside the academic life (to sell it to an organization; not for another course) so I used it as a project.

Intentional dishonesty: I falsified an interview questions since the bank refused to sit down for a one, I did not inform my instructors about it when discussing the senior project. I feel bad now.

After reading about plagiarism, I went to the extreme and I fell into an obsession that my degrees SHOULD be revoked because of what I've done, even my masters program (despite the fact that, according to my current instructors, I am an excellent student) should be terminated. I feel the urge and need to go and confess everything to all my 4 instructors (who were involved in both of my projects) and the director. I want the option to correct my projects by paraphrasing what I've copied as a way to feel 'deserving' of my bachelor degrees (even though the project itself is credited the same as any other course), hoping for them to accept the self-plagiarism act and also forgive me for faking the answers of the interview.

Is it really that much bleak? Or am I just exaggerating and overthinking the whole situation due to my OCD, morality and anxiety? What should I do?
posted
30-Mar-16, 00:21
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 1 year ago
The referencing error I would say is fair enough as you learn these things along the way, but those skills you should have picked up at undergraduate level.

The fudging of your data is quite serious and I personally couldn't condone you keeping that quiet. A part of research experience and development is dealing with difficult and uncooperative participants, and why you couldn't ask your supervisors for help at the time is beyond me. It does make a bit of a mockery of us researchers who work hard to collect data and try to find valid results.
posted
30-Mar-16, 09:46
edited about 18 seconds later
by pd1598
Avatar for pd1598
posted about 1 year ago
I'm not sure it's so easy as just being forgiven for the falsification of data, that's a serious matter. I would think long and hard before going to your tutors, perhaps speak to the student union first?
posted
30-Mar-16, 10:22
edited about 20 seconds later
by r90
Avatar for r90
posted about 1 year ago
Due to the limitations of the words here, I did not explain well. Please understand that I only 'made-up' the answers of the interview (and it's just only 1 interview, no a survey) after the bank refused to answer them and it instructed me to go online to their website for the answers. So the answers are mostly based on the online information of the bank... Still, I should have acted better back then... any feedback?
posted
30-Mar-16, 10:54
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 1 year ago
It is difficult to know what advice to give here because people can give advice based on their research experience - however, you've also said you have OCD, and none of us knows how much all this may be preoccupying you. Are you receiving some support for OCD/anxiety? If those things are particularly bad at the moment, maybe this is not the time to be acting on your worries? To be honest, at undergrad level I would be very surprised if you were the only one not to have carried out your research properly - not that that makes it right, but it happens!
posted
30-Mar-16, 10:58
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From r90:
Due to the limitations of the words here, I did not explain well. Please understand that I only 'made-up' the answers of the interview (and it's just only 1 interview, no a survey) after the bank refused to answer them and it instructed me to go online to their website for the answers. So the answers are mostly based on the online information of the bank... Still, I should have acted better back then... any feedback?


It sounds as though you are looking for reassurance that you're okay to keep quiet about the issue, but your more detailed answer doesn't change my view. If you ever publish this work or the bank ever see your research findings, you could get into even more trouble, as I assume that you have 'collected' this interview data without the bank signing any kind of consent form?
posted
30-Mar-16, 11:07
edited about 27 seconds later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 1 year ago
It is difficult to know what advice to give here because people can give advice based on their research experience - however, you've also said you have OCD, and none of us knows how much all this may be preoccupying you. Are you receiving some support for OCD/anxiety? If those things are particularly bad at the moment, maybe this is not the time to be acting on your worries? To be honest, at undergrad level I would be very surprised if you were the only one not to have carried out your research properly - not that that makes it right, but it happens!
Quote From butterfly20:
Quote From r90:
Due to the limitations of the words here, I did not explain well. Please understand that I only 'made-up' the answers of the interview (and it's just only 1 interview, no a survey) after the bank refused to answer them and it instructed me to go online to their website for the answers. So the answers are mostly based on the online information of the bank... Still, I should have acted better back then... any feedback?


It sounds as though you are looking for reassurance that you're okay to keep quiet about the issue, but your more detailed answer doesn't change my view. If you ever publish this work or the bank ever see your research findings, you could get into even more trouble, as I assume that you have 'collected' this interview data without the bank signing any kind of consent form?


Perhaps the OP could clarify whether this was an undergrad project, which is my understanding. As I've said, it still doesn't mean it's 'right' to fudge data, but I do think it happens at undergrad level and also at this level it doesn't have publishing/new research consequences as it's more about learning how to do research (and learning from mistakes!).
posted
30-Mar-16, 11:12
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 1 year ago
Yes you're right, I was under the impression this was for the Masters project. But people do publish their undergraduate dissertations, if the OP has disseminated any findings there is a slight chance the bank could find out.
posted
30-Mar-16, 11:21
edited about 17 seconds later
by r90
Avatar for r90
posted about 1 year ago
As I said, this was only the senior undergraduate project which is credited as any course to just complete and graduate, it's never going to be published as it lies on the shelf of the uni library (hoping that no one cites it lol). Thankfully, I learned how to properly cite just before my master's thesis so that I can produce a well-written researched one.

It's not about them finding me as this was 4 or 5 years ago, it's just I am not myself ethically happy to the fact that I have unintentionally plagiarized (due to my ignorance and carelessness of how to properly cite during my undergrad. years and a bit of my master's ungraded essays) and I falsified data of 1 interview of around 12 questions of which, as requested, its answers were mostly (I say mostly) adopted from the bank's online site.

No, I am not seeking reassurance and I feel guilty because of that, that's why I am posting here, I feel like I need to confess, at least, regarding the interview part (if the whole unintentional plagiarism doesn't merit doing so), thanks for listening.
posted
30-Mar-16, 11:45
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 1 year ago
I would have a good think about what you stand to gain from confessing (temporary relief of anxiety?) versus what the consequences might be.
posted
30-Mar-16, 12:53
edited about 9 seconds later
Avatar for PracticalMouse
posted about 1 year ago
I think you should have some counselling - a lot of Unis offer this service to their students for free, and it will help you deal with these issues.
posted
30-Mar-16, 13:00
edited about 1 minute later
by r90
Avatar for r90
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From chickpea:
I would have a good think about what you stand to gain from confessing (temporary relief of anxiety?) versus what the consequences might be.
What might be the consequences? The point of my post is to try to understand if what I've done is a actually a crime or just an exaggeration of my mind.
posted
30-Mar-16, 13:02
by r90
Avatar for r90
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From PracticalMouse:
I think you should have some counselling - a lot of Unis offer this service to their students for free, and it will help you deal with these issues.

Yeah, not if you, sadly, live in the third world.
posted
30-Mar-16, 13:11
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From r90:
Quote From chickpea:
I would have a good think about what you stand to gain from confessing (temporary relief of anxiety?) versus what the consequences might be.
What might be the consequences? The point of my post is to try to understand if what I've done is a actually a crime or just an exaggeration of my mind.


Well, from what you have said, the project was completed a while ago and you have no intention of publishing it. I think this means that any consequences would really just affect you, in terms of your relationships with your supervisors, who might not know what to do with the information. My personal opinion is that confessing at this stage would be a rather odd and potentially damaging thing to do.

If support is not available where you are, have you looked into online support groups for OCD and anxiety?
posted
30-Mar-16, 13:19
edited about 27 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 1 year ago
Quote From chickpea:


Well, from what you have said, the project was completed a while ago and you have no intention of publishing it. I think this means that any consequences would really just affect you, in terms of your relationships with your supervisors, who might not know what to do with the information. My personal opinion is that confessing at this stage would be a rather odd and potentially damaging thing to do.



I agree, best not to say anything now.

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