Often all that matters to students are grades when they are competing for scholarships, jobs, or entry into graduate school. In addition, "Students may also not be as personally interested in their own education versus their career aspirations. Even students who are concerned about the learning part of their education may justify plagiarism based on the fear that others are already cheating, causing "unfair competition'" Fain and Bates qtd.
For some students, learning may not be the point of an education. They are there to get the qualifications or the piece of paper. This mode of thinking can result in students justifying academic offenses because they only need to finish this assignment, this class, or they need the grade. Student ethics and relationship with the College -- "Students lack a basic reference point for ethical academic behavior.
Too often learning and the evaluation of learning - namely grading - are considered one rather than two distinct processes. For some students, getting the grade becomes the goal, and they might see any behavior as appropriate which results in good grades.
Thus, lacking clear guidance from faculty and confused about the goal of education, students do not know what constitutes academic dishonesty" Peterson qtd. The commodification of knowledge and education -- the move to business and market-models coupled with a consumer mentality can result in some students viewing their education as a commodity. There has been a shift from valuing education for the sake of learning to valuing education so that career aspirations can be fulfilled.
As a result some students expect to pay their tuition and cruise through post-secondary education on their way to becoming a professional in their chosen field. Education can be viewed as the passport to a desired job rather than a learning experience. Internal Factors Poor time management and organizational skills -- undergraduate students often do not have the time managment or organizational skills necessary to complete a large research paper.
They can become overwhelmed by the large task and procrastinate. To help alleviate the problem of procrastination faculty may ask students to hand in an outline of their paper a week before the paper is due.
Cultural Factors Culturally based attitudes towards plagiarism -- The idea that an author has "ownership" of language may be a ludicrous concept to students from different cultures. In some cultures, copying someone else's words or ideas is a high form of flattery. The notion that words can be "owned" is a facet of Western culture. For many Asian students in composition classes, proper acknowledgement of the language and ideas of others is a very difficult concept to understand, much less master.
After all, these are not first-year students that may not understand the risks of plagiarism or what plagiarism is, but rather, seemingly capable professionals who are risking everything for nearly nothing.
Problem 1: The Writing Issue Just because a person is talented and intelligent does not mean that they are a great writer. It is possible for someone to be a magnificent scientist, educator, researcher, artist, musician, etc. We see this a lot in research as scientists who, by all accounts, do great work but struggle to write up their findings in a way that will be accepted.
So, they often turn to ghostwriters or, even more unfortunate, to plagiarism. But even if someone is capable at writing, they may not enjoy it and may start to seek ways to get out of it so they can focus on tasks that they prefer.
Sadly, for those with more questionable ethics, this can lead to plagiarism, despite the obvious risks. As long as we require people who are not comfortable with writing to make it a major part of their job, plagiarism will continue to be a problem, even many others are able to meet the demands without turning to unethical behavior.
Problem 2: The Pressure Factor People who are seen as more intelligent generally have more pressure placed upon them. Pressure to excel, pressure to get things done and pressure to pressure to be the best at everything they do, even when it is not practical.
Between the higher expectations, the time crunch placed on them due to higher demand and the need to keep up their appearances, people who are smart or at least are seen as being smart can often feel like they are stuck trying to meet unreasonable or impossible demands.
Furthermore, as with writing, being smart is no guarantee that one is also good at time and project management. Students will make mistakes as they learn how to integrate others' words or ideas into their own work because error is a natural part of learning. Students may not know how to take careful and fully documented notes during their research.
Academicians and scholars may define plagiarism differently or more stringently than have instructors or administrators in students' earlier education or in other writing situations. College instructors may assume that students have already learned appropriate academic conventions of research and documentation.
College instructors may not support students as they attempt to learn how to research and document sources; instead, instructors may assign writing that requires research and expect its appropriate documentation, yet fail to appreciate the difficulty of novice academic writers to execute these tasks successfully.
If the student only cited direct quotes, he or she may be neglecting summaries and paraphrases. The final step is to develop effective academic skills. Confusion about how to properly cite sources -- the lack of consistency among the different style guides compounds the problems that students experience when citing sources. And 'analyze' and 'discuss' must surely rank at the top of the list of all-time confusing terms" Robertson D4. Information on this plagiarism website used and adapted with permission from the University of Alberta Libraries Learning Services. For a printable handout on how to distinguish between plagiarism and paraphrasing, please click Handouts for Students.
In some cultures, copying someone else's words or ideas is a high form of flattery. Whether through poor paraphrasing, lost citations or some other means, mistakes do happen. Besides preventing plagiarism, collecting these documents can help you assess student learning and, when necessary, intervene before the bitter end. What you can do: Teach students strategies for organizing their notes.
College instructors may assume that students have already learned appropriate academic conventions of research and documentation.
But most cases of plagiarism are accidental, and could be avoided if students become more conscious of their own writing and research practices.