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Plagiarism: Why it Continues to Occur?

Darian Camacho
English 111, Section 11
Professor Coulter
March 21, 2013

Plagiarism: Why it Continues to Occur?
The increase in plagiarism has gained the attention of many institutions, administrators and educators, as well as researchers and the public. This increase has brought to attention the concern of why plagiarism continues to occur. In order to debate this concern we should first understand the definition and background of plagiarism, the factors which influence plagiarism, and what is or is not being done to prevent it. I will be looking into three articles in which my discussion will be based on. These articles include “Combating Plagiarism” by Brian Hansen, “Internet Plagiarism Among College Students” by Patrick M. Scanlon and David R. Newman, and “Plagiarism-A Survey” by Hermann Maurer, Frank Kappe, and Bilal Zaka.

Defining plagiarism may be a difficult task because plagiarism can have more than one meaning. Plagiarism is “derived from the Latin word plagiarius,” meaning kidnapper (Hansen, 2003, p. 775). It is “a form of cheating that has been defined as the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own” (Modern Language Association as cited in Hansen, 2003, p. 790). Maurer, Kappe, and Zaka give several examples of the different ways to plagiarize, which include: “turning in someone else’s work as your own, copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit, failing to put a quotation in quotation marks, giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation, changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit, and copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not” (2006, pp. 1050-1051). These are forms of plagiarism; however, many students are unaware of what plagiarism actually is. Plagiarism may be intentional; it may be unintentional, accidental, or self-stealing due to certain factors (Maurer, Kappe, Zaka, 2006, pp. 1051).

Although people these days see plagiarism as wrong, “it has not always been regarded as unethical” (Hansen, 2003, p. 782). History shows that acquiring ideas from another was actually encouraged due to the “belief that knowledge of the human condition should be shared by everyone, not owned or hoarded” (Hansen, 2003, p. 782). In fact imitation became a great influence on writers during the Middle Ages. A study done by McCabe and Trevino discusses the “contextual influences on cheating and plagiarism,” which include the variables “perception of peers’ behavior, student perceptions of the understanding and acceptance of academic integrity policies, the perceived certainty of being reported for cheating, and the perceived severity of campus penalties for cheating” (as cited in Scanlon and Newman, 2002, p. 375). Thei results showed that a minority of students admitted to plagiarism, while the majority believed that a large percentage of their peers indeed do plagiarize. This gives students the mindset that it is okay to plagiarize because so many of their peers do so. As cited in Scanlon and Newman, McCabe and Trevino then concluded that “the most powerful influential factors [regarding cheating] were peer-related contextual factors, including perceptions of peer behavior” (2002, p. 383).

Some people feel that educators and organizations are not doing enough to prevent student plagiarism. Hansen raises the question, “Should teachers use plagiarism-detection services?” Hansen then gathers his information from a number of people. With most of his interviews, people disagreed because they believe that these detection services are “superficial quick fixes” (Hansen, 2003, p. 780), which allow teachers to be lazy. Syracuse’s Howard adds that because teachers become lazy, giving students careless assignments is partly to blame for student...
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