A Student Perspective of Plagiarism

A Student Perspective of Plagiarism

Craig Zimitat (Griffith University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-801-7.ch002
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Abstract

This paper reports on an Australian study of undergraduate students’ engagement in plagiarism-related behaviours, their knowledge of plagiarism and their academic writing skills. Students were surveyed to: (i) estimate the incidence of plagiarism behaviours; (ii) examine students’ self-reported academic writing skills; (iii) their knowledge of plagiarism; and (iv) their ability to identify plagiarised work. Across all three undergraduate years, approximately 90% of students believed that direct copying of text or ideas without acknowledgement constituted plagiarism, whilst around 5% were unsure if it constituted plagiarism. The majority of students (80% or more) claimed never to have plagiarized. About 80% of undergraduate students said they possessed the skills of note-taking, paraphrasing, citing and referencing etc., but barely half of students in each year group reported confidence with these skills. Students were able to distinguish between clear-cut cases of plagiarism and paraphrasing when presented with either different writing processes or different work samples, but they were less able to distinguish between “borderline cases”. There are clear implications for classroom practice. First, students need the opportunity to practice and develop their academic writing skills, in the context of articulating their understandings of their own discipline. This requires teachers to recognise that academic writing is a developmental skill and to learn how to improve the writing skills of their students. Second, in this process, teachers need to ensure that students are inducted into the conventions of the academy that relate to the use, manipulation and transformation of knowledge.

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