Topics: Plagiarism, Tertiary education, Academic dishonesty Pages: 14 (4207 words) Published: December 2, 2012

Eric Lee Chan Yu1 and Mathuri Subramaniam2

INTI International College Subang, Malaysia


This paper seeks to discover the level of awareness amongst private college students about the issue of plagiarism. The authors also hope to discover the students’ thoughts about the issue and address the problem of plagiarism with fellow students. 413 students participated in the survey which was voluntary to test the hypothesis. The majority of students in College X are unaware of plagiarism and its consequences. The results from the study indicated that the majority of the participants understood what plagiarism meant and that plagiarizing was wrong.


Plagiarism, definition, reasons, awareness, private college, students,


Plagiarism has become a common problem around the world, especially amongst students (McCabe, Trevino & Butterfield, 2001). McNaughton (1995, 36-37) in his student handbook defined plagiarism as ‘the attempt to gain advantage for yourself :academic advantage, financial advantage, professional advantage, advantage of publicity – by trying to fool someone, such as a teacher, an editor, an employer, or a reader, into thinking that you wrote something, thought something, or discovered something which ,in actual fact, someone else wrote, thought, or discovered’. Plagiarism is sometimes defined, aphoristically, as ‘literary theft’. The simplest definition of plagiarism is, according to Peh and Arokiasamy (2008, 965), “this crime refers to stealing someone else’s work or ideas, and passing it off as one’s own.”


Literature shows the various problems of plagiarism and how serious the consequences of plagiarism can be to one person. Although this paper concentrates only on private college students, the literature has shown that this issue does not only affect the student population, but also the academics, professionals and writers as well ( Chan, 2005; Peh & Arokiasamy, 2008; Broome 2010).To illustrate this point, in September 2009, two academics from a public university were caught plagiarizing. The junior author claimed that she thought that any information from the internet did not need to be cited (Chapman, 2009). Similar cases involving academics have occurred in private colleges as well (Chan, 2005). With academics and professionals themselves being guilty of plagiarism or at best, unsure of what constitutes plagiarism, it would be easy to assume that students themselves would be uncertain or unaware of plagiarism being a crime.

The internet has become a popular venue for plagiarism to occur. Any information needed can be obtained from websites by anyone who has access to the internet. According to the Internet World Stats, a website run by Miniwatts Marketing Group, the number of people who have access to the internet across the globe is 2,095,006,005 as of March 31, 2011. Plagiarism is so prominent nowadays that, a very popular plagiarism checking software provider has a site called iThenticate specifically designed for “individual researchers, authors, publishers, research facilities, government agencies, financial institutions, and legal firms” (, 2011). Even with these checking software providers, plagiarism still occurs widely (Milliron & Sandoe 2008).

Why does plagiarism still occur so rampantly among the student population although there are easily accessible resources provided to avoid plagiarizing? The literature provides a few reasons based on various studies such as ignorance of proper referencing for online sources (Gabriel, 2010), confusion over the definition of plagiarism (Rosman, Hassan, Suratman, Ripin, & Marni, 2008; American Chemical Society, 2009), or even due to the fact that students were coming from a different...
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