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More Than 35% of Students Regard Plagiarism as Ethical: Survey Finding

Plagiarism is defined as an act of presenting someone else’s ideas or work as your own with or without their consent by including it in your assignment without any acknowledgments. This type of behavior always existed in high schools and universities, but the evolution of the internet and technology made it more prevalent. Nowadays, students don’t have to go to a library to get the information they need for some assignment, they just Google it and start working. The problem occurs when most of the work they submit to their professor is plagiarized. Even bigger issue is the fact that students regard plagiarism as an ethical act. 

Plagiarism among students: how frequent is it?

The Journal of Applied Sciences published a study which surveyed students about their perception of plagiarism, is that something they’d do, why they do it, and so on. The aim of this study was to highlight one of the most common actions in college students to find a way for faculty staff to put it under control. 

Survey findings show that 72.17% undergraduate students knew what plagiarism means while 11.30% confessed they copied someone else’s entire work or just a portion and then submitted it as they own without mentioning references, acknowledgments, or any other indicator to testify their action. Moreover, 32.17% students admit replacing the words of someone else’s work with their own words without citing the source. Even more shocking is the discovery that 40% students used the same words someone else used without any acknowledgments. 

As you can see, plagiarism is quite frequent among undergraduate students who usually opt not to include acknowledgments to the sources they used. They primarily use electronic resources as a source of plagiarism. In fact, 83.48% of them use the perks of the internet for this action. Furthermore, the survey also showed that 62.61% students used printed sources while 51.31% used works that belong to people they knew such as parents and colleagues. 

For most professors and other faculty staff, it’s quite alarming to see that increasing number of students aren’t reluctant to copy someone else’s work completely or use certain portions without citing the author. The rise of plagiarism can be explained by the fact that about 35% students consider this act as ethical. 

Students don’t understand plagiarism 

Students don’t understand what plagiarism really is or why they have to avoid it, according to a study whose findings were published in the Journal Higher Education. Although they understand the overall concept of plagiarism, the research showed they weren’t aware of potential implications of unintentional plagiarism. 

The lack of understanding could be due to two scenarios: students aren’t accessing information that professors provide on plagiarism or teachers don’t explain the problem properly. In most cases, it’s the latter. Students don’t understand what counts as plagiarism and what doesn’t, but they show a willingness to learn more about it. That’s why students feel it’s unfair to be penalized for something they don’t understand. Researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand, call for universities to consider their plagiarism policies and how they might confuse students i.e. it is necessary to provide a practical and straightforward explanation of intentional and unintentional plagiarism to avoid confusion. 

Forms of plagiarism 

The University of Oxford defines different types of plagiarism, such as: 

  • Verbatim (word for word) – using quotations without acknowledgments 
  • Copy-paste action when using the internet without naming the source
  • Paraphrasing – using someone else’s work and changing a few words or sentences to avoid any suspicion 
  • Collusion – refers to the unauthorized collaboration between students, avoiding to attribute assistance you received, or avoiding to follow certain regulations when working in groups
  • Inaccurate citation – incorrect citing or naming references that you didn’t use
  • Now acknowledging assistance – failure to acknowledge assistance you received when working on your project, e.g., colleagues, external sources, etc. 
  • Using material written by professional agencies or other people 
  • Auto-plagiarism – submitting work you have already written and presented before i.e. when the topic is similar it’s not okay to just change a few words and send the assignment.

Why avoid plagiarism?

Plagiarism poses as a breach of the academic integrity that every member of the university or college has to follow. It is your duty to name every source you use and, thereby, acknowledge someone’s efforts. Let’s face it; you wouldn’t like someone to use things you wrote and presented them as their own. Furthermore, most universities have strict punishments for plagiarism, and this is something that could follow you throughout your career. Academic years are the period when you learn to develop your skills and resorting to plagiarism prevents that.

Bottom line

With the ability to access hundreds or thousands of works online, it has never been this easy to plagiarize the content. The unbelievably increased rates of plagiarism are the consequence of growing number of students assuming this action is ethical. It is necessary to make sure students understand the severity of the problem as well as everything that plagiarism entails.