Plagiarism in Higher Education

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The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/1753-7983.htm

EBS 3,3

Dealing with plagiarism in a complex information society
Debbie Wheeler
Abu Dhabi Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and

166

David Anderson
Al Ain Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of the modern information society on attitudes and approaches to the prevention of plagiarism and to examine a less punitive, more educative model. Design/methodology/approach – The approach taken is a literature review of plagiarism in contemporary society followed by a case study of the education department of a tertiary-level college in the United Arab Emirates. Findings – The authors advocate a move towards a less punitive, more educative approach which takes into account all the relevant contextual factors. A call is made for a truly institutional response to a shared concern, with comprehensive and appropriate policies and guidelines which focus on prevention, the development of student skills, and the proactive involvement of all relevant stakeholders. Practical implications – This approach could inform the policies and practices of institutions who wish to systematically deal with plagiarism in other contemporary contexts. Originality/value – This paper could be of value to policy makers and administrators in tertiary institutions, particularly in English as a second language contexts, who recognise the limitations of traditional approaches to plagiarism and wish to establish more effective practices. Keywords Copyright law, Information society, Dishonesty, United Arab Emirates Paper type Literature review

Plagiarism in political discourse Politicians, more than anyone else, need to portray an image of integrity, honesty, and independent thought. Their election, their livelihood, and the fate of their constituents would seem to depend on it. Yet politicians commonly use speechwriters who have the specific task of conveying their thoughts, personality, and personal sincerity (see for example, Philp, 2009). It may be argued that although politicians do not necessarily write the words themselves, they endorse the words they use. But what if the words themselves are not original? In one instance, the presidential candidate Barack Obama was confronted by the fact that some of his speeches had taken material from Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts Governor. Obama admitted he should have acknowledged his source: Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues Vol. 3 No. 3, 2010 pp. 166-177 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1753-7983 DOI 10.1108/17537981011070082

I was on the stump. [Deval] had suggested that we use these lines and I thought they were good lines [. . .] I’m sure I should have – didn’t this time [. . .] I really don’t think this is too big of a deal (Obama cited in Whitesides, 2008). Published by kind permission of HCT Press.

Plagiarism has been defined as “the unacknowledged use of someone else’s work [. . .] and passing it off as if it were one’s own” (Park, 2004, p. 292) and it is interesting to speculate whether such an excuse would be accepted from a student by an educational institution’s plagiarism committee. Accusations of plagiarism in politics have been made before, of course, though the outcomes were often different, suggesting that a shift may be taking place in attitudes towards plagiarism in politics. In 1987, another presidential hopeful was forced to abandon his ambitions for high office largely because he had plagiarised a speech by the British politician Neil Kinnock and because of “a serious plagiarism incident” in his law school years (Sabato, 1998). Ironically, the candidate was none other than Joe Biden, the man chosen by Obama to be his Vice President. In politics today, it seems as though...
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