The Problem of Plagiarism Among Students

The Problem of Plagiarism Among Students

Plagiarism is an act of cheating which is common among students. This is where students use another individuals ideas or scholars work without acknowledging that idea as not being their own. It is, therefore, a form of literary theft. Plagiarism occurs where an idea which is not common or general knowledge is used by a person. This means that students cannot plagiarize if they state something that is a fact or common language for instance there is only one sun or the sky is blue. Students risk committing plagiarism, if they do not acknowledge significant and distinct research findings (Park 2003).

Plagiarism has come to be known as a problem among students that does not seem go away despite many measures taken by higher learning institutions. Plagiarism is actually becoming more widespread and quite common. It has, therefore, been identified as a form of cheating which is epidemic. Plagiarism has been identified in countries such as the United States of America, Southern Africa, and the United Kingdom among others. It is also important to note that plagiarism occurs among both the post graduate and undergraduate students and includes both the private and public institutions whether big or small (Park 2003).

Plagiarism is said to be very immoral because it undermines the originality of the authors and their hard work is also not appreciated. One scholar mentioned it as “a cancer that erodes the rich legacy of scholarship” (Park 2003 p.472). Plagiarism is not a modern phenomena because it also used occur during Shakespear’s era. However, it has turned out to become more common due to the more innovation in technology. Anybody can access an article from the internet and copy paste as if it were their  own work. The main reasons behind plagiarism could be to receive more credit than one actually deserves (Park, 2003).

Even though there is no doubt that plagiarism is an act of cheating; the term can be quite complicated when applied to the academic setting. This is because there are different degrees of plagiarism and how to distinguish these different degrees of plagiarism is a problem. If plagiarism is not to be tolerated at all then how can one avoid plagiarism? This is an aspect that students need to understand well. However, due to ideas of original authors slowly evolving over time it can be sometimes hard to truck the original authors. An idea can also become general knowledge one, therefore, needs to know what is considered to be general knowledge (Park 2003).

Most students who cheat include those in business studies followed by those in technical courses like engineering and the last is humanities. The increase of plagiarism, due to the internet has made higher learning institutions in the United Kingdom to  come up with new policy frameworks for instance through penalizing students. This penalizing system is one that must be applied consistently on students who plagiarize and must also be transparent (Park 2003)

Despite students being more aware about plagiarism through their learning institution and the increase of literature on plagiarism students still continue to plagiarize. It is therefore, essential to know the main reasons as to why students still plagiarize and how the learning institutions can work with students to avoid plagiarize (Devlin and Gray 2007).

One of the three major reasons given by a students as a form of plagiarism included that of  helping a friend , extenuating  circumstances and time pressure. When one says that they plagiarized due to extenuating circumstance it means that the reason behind it could be justified. However, how can an act considered as a theft or cheating be justified. One can explain this by saying that because they did not know that they were actually committing acts of plagiarism .This is because a student may not really know how to reference his work. A student is, therefore, more likely to plagiarize if he has never of plagiarism because if he or she knew the meaning then they will do what they can to avoid it. There is no way that one can cheat without knowing (Devlin and Gray 2007).

This also brings out another issue. A student can only avoid something that he or she knows is a very serious offence. Student will, thus, have to know on how serious the case of plagiarism can be for instance one can get penalized through being expelled. If there are penalties which are not very severe then a student is likely to take plagiarism lightly and is more likely to plagiarize in the near future. For the factors of time and pressure, professors can give their students sufficient time to do their work so that they avoid any temptations to plagiarize (Devlin and Gray 2007).

Helping a friend is also another reason mentioned by students for plagiarism but this reason cannot be the major priorities in avoiding plagiarism  the students has plagiarized because the work that he did was not actually his, Students should thus ensure that they do their own work because they may risk giving their work  to someone else who may plagiarize. The problem in this case is not only about plagiarism but the relationship that they may have with other students. There is, therefore, more research needed for this kind of reason for plagiarism (Devlin and Gray 2007).

The use of software packages to detect plagiarism has not really helped because there are still many assumptions on why plagiarism occurs. Higher learning institutions should thus invest more in finding out the main reasons for plagiarism rather investing software packages that may actually not help much, other than detecting more plagiarism. However it is possible to reduce cases of plagiarism but not completely eliminating it because you find that there are those students who are just lazy or do not value the quality of their work. Different institutions should thus carry out extensive research in their academic institutions because reasons for plagiarism vary in different institutions (Devlin and Gray 2007). It is also important to note that some software packages such as Turnitin used to detect plagiarism can also detect work to be plagiarized even if it is not, software packages are, therefore, not to be fully trusted since they are accurate (Batane 2010).

One can thus conclude by stating that plagiarism has evolved over time as new technological innovations have come to the internet has come up. The way students plagiarized has evolved. The internet rather than being a tool for good research has undermined the academic integrity that students are meant to have as scholars. It has also not only undermined original authors but also raised a lot of questions on how severe a particular degree of plagiarism is. On the other hand, academic institutions have also opted using software packages to detect plagiarism, however this does not really   stop plagiarism since it has its own faults. Scholars have also made many assumptions on the reasons behind plagiarism rather than doing extensive research so as to know how to deal with plagiarism in future. Assumptions should thus be avoided and the over reliance of software packages should also be avoided. It is possible to find out that plagiarism maybe a form of culture among students that develops overtime. The lack of ethics or even the existence of many facilities which promote extra curricula activities rather than academic work can also contribute to plagiarism.


Batane, T 2010, “Turning to Turnitin to Fight Plagiarism among University Students, Educational Technology & Society, vol.13 no.2 pp 1-12

Chris, P 2003, “In Other (People’s) Words: plagiarism by University students—literature and lessons”, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education,

Vol. 28 no. 5 pp.471-488

Devlin, M and Gray, K 2007, “In their own words: A qualitative study of the reasons

Australian university student plagiarize”, Higher Education Research and Development vol. 26 no. 2 pp.81-198


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