Plagiarism in Higher Education

Topics: Academia, University, Plagiarism Pages: 18 (6518 words) Published: July 19, 2013
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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


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...

References: (The) ABC News (2008), “New celeb-filled music video for Obama”, The ABC News, February 2, available at:¼4231523&page¼1 (accessed February 8, 2010). Assessment Handbook (2009), Education Division, Higher Colleges of Technology, Abu Dhabi.
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Philp, C. (2009), “Profile: Barack Obama’s speechwriter Jon Favreau”, The Times, January 19, available at: article5548555.ece (accessed February 8, 2010). Roig, M. (1997), “Can undergraduate students determine whether text has been plagiarized?”, The Psychological Record, Vol. 47 No. 1, pp. 113-23. Roig, M. (1999), “When college students’ attempts at paraphrasing become instances of plagiarism”, Psychologicical Reports, Vol. 84 No. 3, pp. 973-82. Sabato, L.J. (1998), “Joseph Biden’s plagiarism; Michael Dukakis’s ‘attack video’ – 1998”, The Washington Post, available at: clinton/frenzy/biden.htm (accessed February 8, 2010). Scanlon, P.M. and Neumann, D.R. (2002), “Internet plagiarism among college students”, Journal of College Student Development, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 374-85, available at:, ladare/eac595/readings/scanlon-neumann.pdf (accessed February 8, 2010). Schneider, A. (1999), “Why professors don’t do more to stop students who cheat”, The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, available at: (accessed February 10, 2010). Scollon, R. (1995), “Plagiarism and ideology: identity in intercultural discourse”, Language in Society, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 1-28. Simmons, S.C. (1999), “Competing notions of authorship: a historical look at students and textbooks on plagiarism and cheating”, in Buranen, L. and Roy, A.M. (Eds), Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, pp. 41-53. Spencer, L. (2004), “The onus of originality”, in Bowman, V. (Ed.), The Plagiarism Plague, Neal-Schuman, New York, NY, pp. 13-24. Whitesides, J. (2008), “Obama, Clinton trade charges in speech flap”, Reuters, February 18, available at: (accessed February 8, 2010). Wood, R. (2004), “Encouraging excellence: a departmental approach”, in Bowman, V. (Ed.), The Plagiarism Plague, Neal-Schuman, New York, NY, pp. 95-104. About the authors Debbie Wheeler is Chair of Education Programmes at Abu Dhabi Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE. Her professional interests include the promotion of best practice in assessment, pre- and in-service teacher development, and the documentation of policies to best support effective teaching and learning. She started her career as a primary teacher in Australia and has worked in the UAE for over 15 years. Debbie Wheeler is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: David Anderson is an English Faculty Member at Al Ain Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE. He has worked in Spain, Kuwait, and the UAE for over 20 years as a Teacher, Teacher trainer, and Materials Developer. His main areas of interest include e-learning, the development of literacy skills, and the acquisition of vocabulary.
Dealing with plagiarism
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