Plagiarism Problem in Higher Education Essay

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Plagiarism is a phenomenon that presents problems to many learners, as well as learning institutions. The recognition of plagiarism is a noteworthy challenge in higher education worldwide. Most of the works presented by learners for ranking the coursework comprise plagiarized data. The phenomenon is not new as it has occurred severally in the past and persists, especially in economic schools considering that the financial facts are static.

It is described as prevalent in Western Universities. Scholars mainly censure it because of the negative impact it has on learners’ education (Park, 2003). Learners who either deliberately or accidentally submit plagiarized work as the original authors hinder their aptitude to excerpt meaning from the information they read.

Consequently, they limit the opportunity to nature higher-level intellectual learning abilities. Additionally, when it goes unchecked, it has the likelihood of destructively impacting an institution’s repute. There is an immense devaluation of the learning encounter of the learners and the quality of the graduates.

More importantly, it is imperative to comprehend why plagiarism occurs from psychological perspectives. Further, understanding the negative impact of plagiarizing attitude from a personality perspective is fundamental in developing a plagiaristic behavior model (Yang, 2012).

Is plagiarism inevitable?

Researchers continuously conduct investigations about the explanations for learners plagiarizing. Most of these researches identify factors linked to plagiaristic behaviors. However, they fail to isolate the reality of plagiarism from the fundamental intent that a plagiarist has. They also fail to deliberate why some behaviors persevere irrespective of the efforts to avert their occurrence.

Plagiaristic behavior is multidimensional, pertains to a precise and extremely complex subject that is additionally compounded by opposing and controversial views. The act itself generates heated debates and different opinions that surround our comprehension of what plagiarism is, why it occurs, and how to prevent it (Devlin & Gray, 2007).

A major complicating aspect regarding plagiarism is that scholars in higher learning institutions adopt diverse levels of concern and evenhandedness when identifying and handling learners who plagiarize. Consequently, comprehending what plagiarism is and why it is wrong is typically perplexing for learners because learners’ acuity and elucidation often vary from those of scholars. The opinion of scholars varies as to the gravity of the wrongdoing. The question as to whether or not plagiarism is tantamount to cheating remains unsolved.

The challenge is arriving at a consensus on the actual meaning of plagiarism generates from the fact that it is an ethic-laden word that entails strong undesirable connotations. Another aspect that makes plagiarism complex is collusion. Clearly, collusion is unethical and intentional. However, through collusion, plagiarism may arise from unintentional ‘cheating’ or using the work of others accidentally devoid of acknowledgement. Scholars and institutions often defend unintentional plagiarism by describing it as ‘unapproved use’ of words as opposed to cheating or stealing (Hsiao & Yang, 2011).

The consciousness of plagiarism is essential in deciphering if an imitative behavior is deliberate. Plagiarism is inappropriate because it hinders student learning. However, a rational connection has not been established between the learner’s degree of awareness regarding copying and the learner’s plan to plagiarize.

Consequently, when a learner plagiarizes and they are unaware of the type of plagiarism and that the behavior is unattractive, then there is the assumption that the behavior was accidental. Inculcating negative attitude in students upon entry into learning institutions is one of the principal strategies to avert the occurrence of plagiarism.

Conceptualizing plagiarism

Bennett’s (2005) approach for plagiarism prediction differentiates between ‘less and more severe’ forms of plagiarism through the classification of the practice as major or minor founded on the quantity. The author argues that submitting work with a small portion of copied work devoid of credit to the author is not as severe as submitting the majority of copied work as unique (Bennett, 2005). The author supposed that minor plagiarism stemmed from opportunistic behavior. On the other hand, major plagiarism is intentionally planned.

However, these interpretations may lead to unproductive’ action plans’ because there exists reasoning that even minor quantity of plagiarism that was intentionally planned to cheat is more severe than huge quantities of accidental plagiarism. Therefore, it is imperative to establish a more convincing elucidation as to why learners plagiarize for educators and psychologists to deal with the problem efficiently. Essential in such elucidation is the difference between the manifestation of plagiarism and the learner’s attitude to deceive.

Comprehending plagiarism

It is imperative to develop a better comprehension to define plagiarism. Learners join higher learning institutions with a range of diverse past learning involvements. Considering that plagiarism is a compound and relatively specific term, it is common for learners to misconstrue its meaning and importance in the particular learning institution in which plagiarism evaluation is taking place. Notwithstanding the student’s previous experiences, the learners are habitually puzzled about the presence and illegality of plagiarism because of the discrepancies in the adoption and implementation of the guidelines surrounding plagiarism by the teaching staff (Selwyn, 2008).

Majority of learners vaguely understand the meaning of plagiarism. That is, what do or do not constitute plagiarism. Others fear to plagiarize accidentally for failure to reference ideas they consider to be their own. Therefore, plagiarism is a much less significant concept for learners than it is for the teaching staff. Accidental plagiarism often arises due to a deficit in either the institution’s obligation to training learners about referencing or the learner’s duty to learn.

Empirical evidence exists indicating that freshmen learners lack the essential intellectual, phonological, and environmental support to comprehend how to reference (Hendricks & Quinn, 2000). For learners to cultivate an attitude (either positive or negative) to the act of plagiarism, they require being aware of what plagiarism is and comprehend that it is regarded unwelcome by learning institutions.

Plagiarism and attitude

A huge quantity of literature regarding social and behavioral science exists. Attitude refers to the summary assessment of a psychological object taken in such characteristic dimensions as good/bad, harmful/beneficial and likable/unlikable and many others. The attitude in the context of plagiarism depends on whether or not the act of plagiarizing is unattractive by the learner and how the learner reacts to it. The perception of the learning institution receives limited or no regard.

Therefore, the approach of the learner towards plagiarism progresses from the learner’s opinions and the standards they assign to it. Opinions regarding a behavior develop through the association of that particular behavior with specific attributes, experiences, or outcomes. A learner may consider plagiarism as dangerous when they associate the action with a great probability of being discovered.

Additionally, where the attributes, experiences, or outcomes that the learner link with the behavior is deliberated to present a positive or negative value linked to them, the involvement in risky behavior is bad. Consequently, a connected attitude is spontaneously and concurrently linked with the behavior. This means that the learner will perceive the act of plagiarizing as undesirable (Yang, 2012).

There are arguments that the outcomes that the learners associate with plagiarism and the values associated by the learner to the consequences are inherently prejudiced by a compounded amalgamation of a learner’s inborn personal attribute. The particular factors of the condition surrounding the student at the time of plagiarizing are also a determinant. There are major personal attributes that influence a learner’s opinions regarding plagiarism and the values they attach to the plagiaristic behavior. These include objective orientation, educational incorporation, and the degree of moral perception.

Because of objective orientation, the student’s focus on the results of the study is the paramount element that determines their attitude towards plagiarism. A learner determined to achieve high scores may view plagiarism as an avenue to achieve the grades. Such a learner may not link plagiarism with wrongdoing. Consequently, the learner develops an attitude that it is suitable.

Given educational integration, a learner may be isolated or detached with the classwork or the institutional life. In this case, the learner view plagiarism as a means to achieving hence devalues the evasion of plagiarism. The degree of moral perception entails whether or not a learner possesses a strong sense of right or wrong. Learners who possess a high level of moral perception acknowledge plagiarism as wrong and often avoid it. These personal attributes often override each other depending on the personality and the circumstances surrounding the student (Yang, 2012).

Consequences of plagiarize attitude

When learners develop a positive attitude towards plagiarizing, they may be lucky to evade the repercussions of institutional punishment. Such students may achieve high grades upon graduation. However, such students are incompetent in the job market. They are unable to apply what was learned in the coursework or tested in the assessments.

They lack the fundamentals for the effective completion of a task. The plagiarize attitude may be further transferred to the workplace. In such a scenario, the learner’s (now the employee) temptations to depend on the work of colleagues to complete a task are high. They hence become a liability to the company as opposed to an asset. There is a gradual erosion of the publicity of the learning institution. It is hence the prerogative of the learning institution to ensure that the students are aware of the consequences of plagiarizing attitude not only to the individual learner but also to the institution.

The repercussions of plagiarism can severely endanger the learner’s academic career considering that the records follow the learner throughout the course. The learner is psychologically impacted regarding what others think of them. When the plagiarism attitude gains roots in the learner, the chances of being expelled from the course are imminent.

There is no college or university that can risk admitting an expelled student into any of its courses. The career and ambitions may terminate abruptly. Once a learner has developed a positive plagiarize attitude, they are susceptible to plagiarizing even when writing their dissertations. The consequences at this point are severe. There is the likelihood of destruction of the work submitted once discovered accompanied by legal action for the learner is expected to provide highly researched work worth publishing.


Plagiarism is the act of utilizing or closely copying the ideas of another person. There are many negative consequences of plagiarizing attitude, including incompetence in the job market, risk of expulsion from the university, and destruction of the final presentation after years of study.


Bennett, R. (2005). Factors associated with student plagiarism in a post-1992 university. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 30(2), 137-162.

Devlin, M., & Gray, K. (2007). In their own words: A qualitative study of the reasons australian university students plagiarize. Higher Education Research & Development, 26(2), 181-198.

Hendricks, M., & Quinn, L. (2000). Teaching referencing as an introduction to epistemological empowerment. Teaching in Higher Education, 5(4), 447-457.

Hsiao, H., & Yang, C. (2011). The impact of professional unethical beliefs on cheating intention. Ethics & Behavior, 21(1), 301–316.

Park, C. (2003). In other people’s words: Plagiarism by university students-literature and lessons. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(5), 471-488.

Selwyn, N. (2008). Not necessarily a bad thing: A study of online plagiarism amongst undergraduate students. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(2), 465–479.

Yang, S. (2012). Attitudes and behaviors related to academic dishonesty: A survey of Taiwanese graduate students. Ethics & Behavior, 22(3), 218-237.

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