Academic Plagiarism – the Practices and Perceptions Essay

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Plagiarism is a common concern in education, entertainment, and some parts of history. The Online Merriam Webster Dictionary (2012) defines plagiarism as “the act of stealing and passing off the ideas or other words of another as one’s own.” This activity is unacceptable and is still performed. Because of this practice, however, researchers conducted surveys in several schools to comprehend this act of dishonesty. The reasons for the practice of cheating are complex but also essential to examine.

Brian Hansen (2003), a CQ Researcher in Combating Plagiarism, analyzed the practice of plagiarism among schools and the media. He states, “The perception [among college professors] is that students are no longer learning about plagiarism adequately at a high-school level, so there’s an education and re-education process that needs to take place” (2003, p.777). Various students may not recognize their research as a dishonest activity because their professors may have not introduced the idea of plagiarism to them. Dominic A. Sisti (2007), a researcher regarding plagiarism, said “student responses reflect a lack of clarity regarding what exactly their school’s policy says regarding copy-paste practices” (2007, p. 225).

Because of the lack of clarification, it is essential that professors give direct and comprehensive instructions for each student before he or she works. Patrick M. Scanlon and David R. Neumann (2002), two researchers who have also conducted surveys about plagiarism, noticed that the measures of incidence of cheating suggest a contradiction between what students say and do. “Some [students] have argued that colleges and universities are not doing nearly enough to foster a commitment among students to academic honesty” (2002, p.376). The lack of acknowledgement is one of the leading causes for students to academically plagiarize.

When students are unaware of the idea of plagiarism, they tend to complete their work without much concern or effort. Students may refer to term-paper purchasing websites or directly copy and paste from the web. In Hansen’s CQ reader, McCabe found that “44 percent of the students considered minor, cut-and-paste Internet plagiarism as ‘trivial’ cheating or not cheating at all” (2003, p.778). This fact suggests that students do not have a standard of cheating. Sisti had also observed what students perceived as cheating.

“Their comments clearly indicated that they did not feel cheating was a significant concern. Further, statements by these students reinforced the findings of previous research that show cheating gets easier as students continue to cheat and that students are not really concerned about being caught” (2007, p. 217). Among these students, they may feel the right to cheat because of the influence by others. In Scanlon and Neumann’s research, they state that “Students consistently judged plagiarism by others to be more prevalent than their own self-reports would suggest” (2002, p.380). This means that the students viewed academically cheating common in their generation. The lack of concern between students and cheating is one of the few major sources of plagiarism.

Another cause of academic plagiarism is because students feel that they cannot complete their task within the given amount of time. Among these students, they referred to the Internet for their research as their major source of information. Scanlon and Neumann share their concerns by stating that, “university administrators, faculty, and staff should be concerned about the impact of the Internet in shaping a new generation of students’ conception of what does and does not constitute fair use of then countless texts so readily available at the click of a mouse” (2002, p. 374). “The amount of online plagiarism reported here should be a matter of concern, although the current study does not point to an epidemic of Internet plagiarism. Academic dishonesty is most strongly associated with the perceptions of peers’ behavior” (2002, p. 383). However, if teachers do use plagiarism-detection websites, students may still view plagiarism acceptable.

Sisti concluded that “students might incorrectly interpret the system feedback, believing that plagiarism is simply a degree of acceptable paraphrasing (2007, p. 228).” This means that students will not only misunderstand their topics, but also lack future referencing and the meaning behind plagiarism. The Internet provided these students term-paper purchasing websites and complex reading which directs them to cheat. Therefore, educators must be aware of students’ uses of the Internet when resorted for academic research. Fortunately, there are plagiarism-detection soft wares available for teachers’ use. However, teachers who rely on these programs must initially teach their students the proper way to do their research and how to cite their sources if they choose to quote or paraphrase. If more students become aware of this problematic behavior and if teachers show greater concern, then it is very possible for the plagiarizing activity to minimize.

Corrected Annotated Bibliography

Hansen, B. (2003, September, 19). Combating plagiarism. The CQ Researcher, 13(32), 775-594. Retrieved from http://www.cqpress.com/docs/Combating%20plagiarism.pdf Plagiarism is a problem that is not only found in education. This form of cheating is also found in music and history. Many people who plagiarize may not be aware of this kind of cheating. Hansen (2003) states that “The perception [among college professors] is that students are no longer learning about plagiarism adequately at a high-school level, so there is an education and re-education process that needs to take place” (p. 777).

Because of this, several professors experienced great consequences by responding to academic cheating. Hansen was concerned if the Internet played a major role towards academic plagiarism; because of its existence, few teachers refer to plagiarism detection programs such as turnitin.com. Another concern that Hanson addressed was how news organizations did not sufficiently guard against plagiarism used in the media. He, then, concluded that plagiarism has not dramatically change in comparison to book text copying and Internet plagiarism.

Plagiarism. (2012). Merriam-Webster.com/. Retrieved Sep 16, 2012, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize

Scanlon, P. M., & Neumann, D, R. (2002). Internet plagiarism among college students. Journal of College Student Development, 43(3), 374-385. Retrieved from http://www4.ncsu.edu/~ladare/eac595/readings/scanlon-neumann.pdf

The awareness of academic plagiarism allowed Patrick M. Scanlon and David R. Neumann (2002) to survey students about partaking in such activity. The focus of the survey was to assess students’ perceptions and practices. In Scanlon and Neumann’s study, they address that students’ perception on peer behavior, their faculties’ ethical views, and their awareness of institutional sanctions greatly contribute to their reasons to plagiarize (p. 375). Students are vulnerable to what others may think and not fully understand the consequences of plagiarism. In other words, they also feel that it is more acceptable to copy from the Internet if their peers are also plagiarizing. Students who participated in this study were to confront the eight different types of plagiarism as self-reports. Scanlon and Neumann analyzed that the Internet will not affect the way one writes or performs his research.

Sisti D. A, (2007). How do high school students justify Internet plagiarism? Ethics & Behavior, 17(3), 215-231. Retrieved from http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/pdf/top10/HEBHdown.pdf

Dominic A. Sisti (2007) surveyed 160 high schools about the usage of the Internet. He merely focused on Internet plagiarism, which includes the copy and paste method and term paper purchasing. The top reason why students resorted to academic dishonesty was because of the limited time given to complete their research. According to Sisti, “The results indicated that students were more easily able to justify copy-paste plagiarism for a variety of reasons that mirror justifications of other forms of conventional plagiarism” (p. 215). In other words, the students felt that copying and pasting was a better option than term paper purchasing because of the less risk of getting caught. In addition to Sisti’s research, he exclaimed that students would admit that they felt confused by a professor’s instruction which directed them to plagiarize. Due to this fact, Sisti offered educators several strategies for managing academic dishonesty

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