Student Plagiarism in an Online World
One of the serious problems faced by universities in different countries is student plagiarism in an online world. One and the same work is submitted several times: abstracts, reports, courseworks, serious scientific work, and dissertations.
What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is the deliberate appropriation of authorship of someone else’s work of science or art, of someone else’s ideas or inventions, the transfer of completely someone else’s work for one’s own, the use of someone else’s ideas or phrases without indicating the source, as well as the indication of incorrect information about the source from where the information was borrowed.
What drives students to plagiarize?
Studies by Newsted, Franklin-Stokes and Armstead showed that students use plagiarism due to lack of time and because they do not believe in receiving high marks for self-completed work. On the other hand, the authors consider the prevailing practice of general cheating as the norm.
So, today the search for information is much less time-consuming than its processing and analysis. The main assistant to students today is the Internet, which makes it possible to quickly find information on a topic and use it in the preparation of any task.
Another use of plagiarism is related to the fact that the student is dominated by the desire not to acquire maximum knowledge but simply to get an assessment.
The typology of students resorting to plagiarism in the study, developed by J. Williams:
- “lazy plagiarists” (as a rule, poor students and non-motivated students who completely copy other people’s work, changing their names at best, use plagiarism sites);
- “cunning plagiarists” (they know perfectly well what plagiarism is and make significant efforts to ensure that it is not detected. Copying the text is made from Internet sources and works of other students. They try to hide sources of information by using an incomplete list of used literature and links);
- “random plagiarists” (students with an insufficient level of educational skills, without the experience of independent writing of works and not knowing academic norms.
Usually, they include whole paragraphs of someone else’s text in their own work without appropriate quotation and are surprised by the accusation of plagiarism).
Classification of plagiarism cases
We classified plagiarism cases breaking them into two groups. The first group hit borrowing without indicating the source. These include:
- “ghost author” – the author passes off the work done by another person as his/her own, without changing its content. This kind of “creativity” is widespread in two forms: 1) the use of materials from the Internet and 2) there are many “consulting firms” who are ready to write a work on almost any topic to order.
The following three forms of plagiarism are modifications of the “ghost author”:
- “photocopy” – the author copies a significant part of the text (but not the entire text) from one source, without making changes to it;
- “turned-up material” – an attempt is made to hide plagiarism by copying from several different sources, the text of which does not change, but the author writes his or her transitional phrases between parts of the text;
- “bad camouflage” – the meaning of the source text remains but some formulations change to similar ones.
The last form of plagiarism included in this group is somewhat unexpected. It is called “stolen from yourself” and involves the borrowing of text from the student’s own earlier works. For example, a student can submit the same job to teachers in different disciplines. As a result, the condition of the originality expected from the work is violated, and the student misses the opportunity to gain additional knowledge on another topic.
The second group includes works with an indication of the sources, which nevertheless are plagiarized. They are divided into:
- “forgotten link” and “disinformer” associated with incorrect or erroneous registration of links to the source;
- “too perfect rephrasing.” It takes place when the literal quote is not quoted. Thus, the reader has the wrong impression that the author gave his or her original interpretation of the views expressed in the source;
- “the perfect crime” is committed when the author correctly quotes some quotes and rephrases the rest. As a result, the reader mistakenly thinks that the paraphrased text is an author’s analysis of the quoted thoughts;
- “abundant citation” occurs in compliance with all the rules of citation and paraphrasing. The catch is that the work practically does not contain the original results of the author’s research. To indicate this case, the word “compilation” is more correct than plagiarism. This kind of plagiarism is quite difficult to detect because at first glance it looks the same as any other carefully developed and prepared material.
Attitude to plagiarism in foreign universities
At Central European University, students once caught for plagiarism must be checked after each course; those caught in plagiarism in the final thesis remain without a diploma. In educational institutions in Holland and Sweden, term papers can be rejected if at least half a page of text is plagiarized. In Poland, the local plagiat.pl verification system stops checking if it finds that the text is 50% non-original. In the UK, the problem of student plagiarism is considered so serious that a Strategic Joint Information Committee has been created to solve the problem of combating it, which also works in the higher education system of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The first practical step was the creation of the Plagiarism Council as a competent source of information for the teaching staff.
Bishop’s University (Canada) is warning students that plagiarism is not allowed not only in the finished work but also in a draft version that is handed over to the teacher for a preliminary examination. And plagiarism at the university is considered serious misconduct since it “insults the teacher, is dishonest towards classmates and to the student him/herself and destroys the process of university education.”
The University of Toronto emphasizes that plagiarism also includes copying a friend’s homework or cheating on an exam. Students themselves consider the use of cheat sheets on the exam a more serious misconduct than surrendering work done by other people during the semester.
The fight against plagiarism
Many universities use special antiplagiarism software to combat plagiarism.
Using the program, universities can:
- check and analyze a document or text for plagiarism;
- view the results of checks that were previously run;
- perform full-text search on the base of documents;
- search for documents similar in content to the used antiplagiarism database.
How to quote correctly?
- If you use someone else’s text or picture, select it: quotation marks, frame, italics. Different sciences use different ways of citing;
- Be sure to give a link to the source. If this is a publication, then provide a bibliographic link, if it’s the Internet source – provide the corresponding URL;
- If you retell but do not use the text verbatim, then mention whose thought was taken as a basis.