Feature : Trends In Plagiarism

By Lamjin Atoh (lamjin@oum.edu.my)

If you think that being trendy is limited to the world of fashion, then think again. Plagiarism also involves trends, and keeping up with them is crucial if we are to effectively manage this menace. This article attempts to trace trends in plagiarism with reference to some international studies.

A survey of high school students in the United States of America conducted by Donald McCabe and others suggests that most students entering college arrive with some kind of cheating experience during their high school years. This study reveals that although students entering college expect something different from their high school experience, the reality of plagiarism at college level reveals a different picture. Widespread cheating among the senior students convinces the junior students that nothing much has changed between high school and college.

Jam Bamford and Katerina Sergiou conducted a study which involved students from 35 different countries. The majority of respondents confi rmed that they had started plagiarising at the university they were attending and most admitted copying direct from books. As the study indicates that plagiarism is prevalent among international students, this also implies that most of them were unaware of plagiarism before they enrolled in their international universities.

The trend has since changed from copying direct from books to “copying and pasting” direct from the Net. The internet’s popularity has continued to grow, allowing easy access to ideas and knowledge for anyone, anywhere, anytime. However, this wealth of information can also be abused by unethical learners. In times of trouble, the Net becomes a “saviour” to learners in desperate need of information. This makes plagiarism more complicated and diffi cult to monitor.

As cheating trends in the academic world become more and more advanced, it is fi tting that technology should be utilised to deal with plagiarism on the Net through plagiarism detection systems and similarity checkers. Whether committed digitally or otherwise, plagiarism should not be tolerated and should be condemned internationally. Those who are found guilty of plagiarism should be duly penalised to safeguard the integrity of the academic tradition.

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I can educate my learners about the wrongfulness of plagiarism by:

setting a good example i.e. not committing plagiarism myself in the notes or materials that I give them
teaching them the correct way to quote references in their assignments
explaining to them the difference between original work and plagiarised work
severely penalising them whenever they hand in plagiarised work
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