Plagiarism is one of the most frequent problems in academic writing. According to Hosny and Fatima (2014), it is deemed as “a common phenomenon among students of all ages and specialties.” However, the background of each case is unique, which adds to the complexity of the picture. The factors which can influence the students’ decisions may include cultural, social, and educational reasons. If one wanted to reduce the rate of plagiarism conduct, it would be necessary to consider each factor. Only then would it be possible to produce a compelling set of educative measures against copyright violation.
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It should be noted that before experiencing the consequences of punishment, I did not realize the full extent of both my fault and the problem of plagiarism as a general phenomenon. After completing the first stage of my sanctions, I have researched the issue, as the second stage required. During my studies, I found out that the causes of plagiarism differ depending on the students’ conditions. Similarly, the means of educative work for eliminating it varies throughout the sources. In this study, I will try to reflect both on my misbehavior and compare it with the discoveries of researchers. As a result, it would allow comprehending my situation in a general picture and show what I managed to learn in the end.
First, one should highlight the meaning of the cultural environment in making the students resort to copying. As Eret and Ok (2014) state, cultural conditions were discovered to affect the amount of plagiarism deployment. These circumstances encompass both the ethnic culture and the professional environment. By taking a closer look at each category, I was able to deduce which ones played the central role in my misdeed.
Firstly, de facto, the geographical differences between the students’ cultures are connected to the frequency and attitude to the phenomenon. According to Kayaoğlu, Erbay, Flitner, & Saltaş (2015), the varying mindset of West and East culture may often become the cause of performing unsanctioned copyright use. In other words, international students may feel uncomfortable in the alien environment, which pushes them to extremes when they are not able to keep the high grades intact. Moreover, their understanding of borrowing ideas may change depending on the cultural worldview, which is why they could use plagiarism without realizing it.
Secondly, the factor of professional culture seems a critical notion. As the research of Heckler and Forde (2014) indicates, the frequency of violating copyright may be higher in certain social groups. For example, certain groups of students may disregard the codes for proper academic writing or do not strictly adhere to them. Moreover, they spread the information through different sources, including social media, which makes an “easy way” more attractive.
By contemplating these factors, I managed to deduce that my problem is linked to the second reason. I should mention that a lot of my student colleagues do not always consider copyright as an impenetrable barrier. On the contrary, I have seen several acquaintances who succeeded in using plagiarism-related texts without getting caught immediately. Thus, I was convinced by the illusion that if they were able to do it without issues, then I can safely try.
The social factors which can directly or indirectly cause plagiarism conduct cannot be underestimated either. Although they relate to the latter group mentioned as the professional culture, primarily, their influences should be treated as a separate asset. As Eret and Oki (2014) mention, the value of socialization does have adverse outcomes, which connects to the plagiarism resort as well. In the end, the society and its groups may intentionally push an individual to the improper text application or even indirectly stimulate their decisions of attempting such a violation.
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The competitive nature of the surrounding people can push to the shortcomings, making oneself desperately use all the methods available. According to Hecller & Forde (2014), the competition over grades among the students can cause their attempts to use the sources without considering the real significance of their failure. Although, at first, such a situation does not appear as justifying, it may often pressure the students to a certain extent.
While considering the social reason, I realized it also added to my readiness to deploy plagiarism. After all, most of my peers are deeply concerned about deserving the highest grates for different causes – practical (achieving grants) or ethereal (the approval of family and closest ones). Hence, the fear of losing both the opportunities and the support of my friends’ circle clouded my mind. As a result, I made my decision based on the “means justify the end” principle since the fault before them seemed more severe than any other outcome.
Education and Its Influence
Thirdly, the ways of learning for the violators are also connected to their reasons for ignoring the copyright. According to Gunnarsson, Kulesza, and Pettersson (2014), the educational environment, which also varies throughout the regions and groups, may add to the plagiarism frequency. However, it is not the single asset that should be taken as a reason. The flaws of the educational systems unavoidably appear in most of these. They may lead to the underuse of the programs about proper copyright use.
Several kinds of researches have mentioned their findings of the insufficient educative level regarding copyright violation. For instance, the study of Gunnarsson et al. (2014) suggests that a few students lack the knowledge of how one can rightfully apply the source without violating the copyright. Furthermore, as Kayaoğlu et al. (2015) mention, the absence of constant reminders about the correctness of citing also may harm the student’s ability to recognize his shortcomings in plagiarism. Hence, the educative measures or the lack of them might indirectly stimulate the students’ readiness to use the sources without citing them as it is required.
Regarding the case of mine, I am sure that the mentioned case contributed to my fault only to some extent. However, one cannot deny its partaking in my decisions which lead to severe consequences. My tutors have always accentuated the citing styles and one’s ability to use them. However, they have not explained the exact result of a violation. Hence, I suppose that the copyright deployments are somewhat lacking, despite the appearing correctness.
During the research, the mentioned studies allowed me to gain insight into possible modifications. For example, Gunnarson et al. (2014) suggest that it is possible to fix the situation by applying simple but effective methods of reacting. These methods include but are not limited to the extended practices of paraphrasing or the emphasis on the personal detection of plagiarism problems among students themselves. As a result, it would give the institutions a chance to set preemptive measures instead of applying restrictions to the issues that already happened.
The recent misdeeds of mine, although painful, allowed me to broaden my insight into plagiarism problems and how to react to them. In the process of research conduction, I was able to find out that the complexity of plagiarism as a phenomenon depends on several key factors which should be considered by both students and teachers. However, all of them add to the problem as a phenomenon. They also demonstrate possible ways of preventing or avoiding it as a practice.
One of the significant reasons is a cultural difference, either connected to the region or society. For instance, international students can be forced into violating copyright because of the alien environment or by their unique understanding of the idea use. Furthermore, the pressure of professional groups the perpetrator comes from or their habits can change their decision. After all, my peers’ carelessness with plagiarism played a role in my violation since I decided that I would be able to get away with it. One more reason is the social factor, shown through the variety of groups the individual takes part in. For example, the competition between students for higher grades may push them to the limits since their social support depends on the matter. This rivalry also added to my resolution of plagiarism resort because of my willingness to use any means possible.
Finally, the lack of a complete education on copyright should not be underestimated either. The studies suggest that educational systems may suffer an insufficient level of student knowledge in that regard. I feel I was affected as well since my tutors have not emphasized the role of proper academic citation throughout the time. Thus, I propose several changes connected to copyright education, including extended practices and personal detection.
Eret, E., & Ok, A. (2014). Internet plagiarism in higher education: tendencies, triggering factors and reasons among teacher candidates. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39(8), 1002-1016.
Gunnarsson, J., Kulesza, W. J., & Pettersson, A. (2014). Teaching international students how to avoid plagiarism: Librarians and faculty in collaboration. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40(3-4), 413-417.
Heckler, N. C., & Forde, D. R. (2014). The role of cultural values in plagiarism in higher education. Journal of Academic Ethics, 13(1), 61-75.
Hosny, M., & Fatima S. (2014). Attitude of students towards cheating and plagiarism: University case study. Journal of Applied Sciences, 14(8), 748-757.
Kayaoğlu, M. N., Erbay, Ş., Flitner, C., & Saltaş, D. (2015). Examining students’ perceptions of plagiarism: A cross-cultural study at tertiary level. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(5), 682-705.