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Rise of student plagiarism as a result of the internet and technological development.

Summary
This study was conducted in order to tackle the escalation of student plagiarism as a result of
the internet and technological development. As the access to information increased and
simplified, the authors are looking to identify students reasons for plagiarising. The main
purpose of the research is to provide understanding and a foundation for possible tactics, in
order to prevent future plagiarism practices.
The researchers looked at written records of, students formally charged with plagiarism, from
a large West Coast University. They analysed the answers and, organised them depending on,
the ethical reasoning students invoked to explain their reasons for plagiarising.
The authors looked at past research of students reasoning and justifications, in different
ethical contexts, in order to map the main six ethical concepts assessed in this paper:
deontology, utilitarianism, rational self-interest, Machiavellianism, cultural relativism and
situational ethics.
In order to avoid bias, the data was systematically evaluated by two independent judges and
the results were also compared with a small sample assessed by the authors. The inter-rater
agreement was significantly high therefore the data coding is reliable.
The results showed that, by far, the main ethical argument used by students was deontology
followed by situational ethics and Machiavellianism. The cultural relativism, rational selfinterest and utilitarianism scored the least.
The findings where strongly correlate to previous studies made on plagiarism, unethical
behaviour and cheating behaviours. Furthermore, the authors provide further
recommendations to prevent plagiarism for each individual reasons used by the students.
Critique
The study was made, as a result in the increase of internet plagiarism, with the purpose of
identifying ethical reasons students invoke, when caught plagiarising. Also the authors are
looking at differences between other types of plagiarism and internet plagiarism, in order to
establish how the development of technology and access to information, impacts on students
rationales for this antisocial behaviour.
The results show that the majority of students invoked the ontological reasoning to explain
plagiarism. This means that 41.8% of students didnt have a clear image of the plagiarism
concept. They argument was that they didnt understood what plagiarism is and they werent
aware of doing something morally wrong. As the authors state, previous studies have also
determine that, the lack of understanding or the lack of clear guidelines of what plagiarism
implies, is the main reason for student adopting this practice.
In a study looking at PhD dissertations, published by students from accredited universities,
Ison (2015) discovered that, the internet and technological development, didnt significantly
influence the prevalence of plagiarism. On the contrary, the result showed that post-internet
plagiarism scored less than the pre-internet one. The study was made in US and Canada in
reputable institutions where the concept of plagiarism was well presented to the students.
Other studies made on cheating behaviours and plagiarism also reported that the traditional
classroom plagiarism was higher than in online courses (Hart and Morgan, 2010).
As Howard (2007) argues, the idea of increased plagiarism in the internet era, may be due to
the improvement of methods of detection and awareness of plagiarism, rather than, an
increase in plagiarism practices. As this study is more recent, another possible explanation for
these negative results may be due to improved guidelines and explanation of plagiarism. With

this in mind, as the higher educational institutions are improving plagiarism awareness, more
students will have a better understanding on the matter, and, therefore, the deontological
reasoning may score lower in a similar current study.
Furthermore, Machiavellianism scored the third highest with 18.4% which is also conclusive
with previous studies, where this behaviour had a positive relationship with students
openness to plagiarism (Quah et all, 2012). These students were more likely to be involved in
cheating behaviours. Also, when looking at the differences in the type of plagiarism, the
research found significant difference between internet cheating with 12.7% and other types,
with 24.5%. This difference may be explained by the access students have to plagiarism
software students, which help with checking the papers authenticity (Batane, 2010). On the
other hand, with other types of plagiarism, an ethical relativism approach and no warnings of
transgression, students will most likely invoke plagiarism practices.
When looking at the cultural relativism scores, only 8.5% of the students invoked It,
however, there is a difference in scores, when looking at the types of plagiarism. The internet
plagiarism scores significantly less than other types of plagiarism, being consistent with the
differences in cultures. For example, Asian learners have an internalised norm for imitating
their teachers (Colnerud and Rosander, 2009:506) and in their culture this is not seen as
plagiarism however when looking at the western cultures, they are classified as plagiarists.
Therefore, the fact that foreign students dont have a well-defined understanding of
plagiarism could also fall under the deontological reasoning. One limitation of this study is
that it cannot be generalised due to the cultural differences in the definition of plagiarism.
Moreover, the authors analysed the data from only one academic institution and, as different
institutions have different practices, this could be seen as a limitation to the study. Social
relations and human culture will continue to have an impact on how universities respond to
challenges (Deem, 2001:18), therefore, a study looking at a variety of academic institutions
from deferent backgrounds may provide a more accurate perspective.
In conclusion, the study made by Neil Granitz and Dana Loewy addresses important aspects
of plagiarism and methodically analyses students reasoning for plagiarism. The results are
correlated with past research and the recommendations provided based on the findings are
well defined and pragmatic. However, due to the increase awareness of plagiarism and new
technics of prevention, a similar study may have different results and situational ethics and
Machiavellianism may score higher. Also, a similar study made in different cultures and
institutions may also provide a more complex perspective on ethical reasoning students
choose when invoking plagiarism.

References:
Batane, T.D (2010) Turning to Turnitin to fight plagiarism among university students.
Educational Technology & Society, 13(2) pp. 1-12.
Colnerud, G., Rosander, M. (2009) Academic dishonesty, ethical norms and learning.
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(5) pp.505-517.
Deem, R. (2001) Globalisation, New Managerialism, Academic Capitalism and
Entrepreneurialism in Universities: Is the local dimension still important? Comparative
Education, 37(1) pp. 7-20.
Hart, L., Morgan, L. (2010) Academic integrity in an online registered nurse to
baccalaureate in nursing program. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 41(11)
pp.498-505.
Howard, M.,R. (2007) Understanding Internet plagiarism. Computers and Compositions,
24(1) pp. 3-15.
Ison, D.C (2015) The influence of the internet on plagiarism among doctoral dissertations:
An empirical study J Acad Ethics, 13 pp.151-166.
Quah, H.C, Stewart, N., Wai Chow Lee, J. (2012) Attitudes of business students towards
plagiarism. J Acad Ethics, 10 pp. 185-199.