The Practices and Perceptions of Plagiarism in Education
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....