Reasons for Plagiarism in Higher Education

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Background and Purpose: The survey was performed to determine the reasons that lead students to possibly commit plagiarism during their studies. By doing so, we wanted to determine the main reason for the appearance of plagiarism and how, within this main reasons, various indicators of plagiarism are judged and, finally, how demographic data and student motivation for study are associated with the reasons for plagiarism.

Design/Methodology/Approach: A paper-and-pencil survey was carried out among 17 faculties of the University of Maribor in Slovenia. A sample of 139 students 85 males and 54 females participated in this study, ages ranged from 19 to 36 years. The questionnaire contained 95 closed questions referring to: (i) general data, (ii) education, (iii) social status, (iv) awareness of plagiarism, and (v) reasons for plagiarism. Parametric and nonparametric statistical tests were performed depending on distributions of the answers.

Results: The results reveal that information and communication technology is largely responsible for the plagiarism with two reasons highlighted: ease of copying and ease of access to materials and new technologies. We also found some differences between low and high motivated students. Different average values of the answers considering motivation for study were confirmed for academic skills, teaching factors and other reasons for plagiarism, where the average for lower motivated students is significantly different (higher) than the average for higher motivated students. At the end we could find no direct relationship between the average time spent on the Internet and plagiarism.

Conclusion: The transmission of knowledge is the basic mission of faculties. This mission is based on moral beliefs about the harmfulness of its abuse, and plagiarism is exactly such abuse. Regardless of the students past at this point professors are those who could greatly contribute to the right set of skills to keep students off plagiarising.

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