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Top 10 Reasons Student Plagiarize

Posted: September 11, 2018 Top 10 Reasons Student Plagiarize

10THEY ARE LAZY

Most students do not plagiarize intentionally. For those who are looking for an easy way out, make plagiarizing too much work.

What Can You Do?

Require students to submit drafts and reflect upon their writing process. You can use in-class reviews to provide quick feedback, and students will

develop their metacognitive skills.

Students are less likely to plagiarize if they bond with fellow students and teachers in small classes and have fresh assignments that require original

thinking (Ashworth & Bannister, 1997).

9THEY PANIC

Some students will deliberately plagiarize when they feel backed into a corner. This behavior often results from poor time management and when

students encounter new writing challenges.

What Can You Do?

Teach strategies for project and time management.

Model your process, review common challenges, and assign intermediate steps.

8 THEY LACK CONFIDENCE

Even students who are confident about their ideas may be tempted to borrow an author’s words because the author “says it better than I can.”

What Can You Do?

Equate learning how to communicate about something new with the ways students have already learned to speak as experts about

their favorite hobbies.

Have students write throughout the research process so that they are processing their ideas as they go.

7 THEY THINK THEY’RE SUPPOSED

TO REPRODUCE WHAT EXPERTS HAVE SAID
Some students believe scholarly publications are repositories of facts, places they can go to find the truth of the matter. They do not see a need to cite information from these sources any more than they would cite Webster’s on how to spell a word (Lipson & Reindl, 2003). Similarly, many believe a research paper is a collection of information strung together with transitions. These are students who say, “So you want me to cite every sentence?” They are most likely to plagiarize by not citing paraphrases and summaries (Lipson & Reindl, 2003; Ashworth & Bannister, 1997).

What Can You Do?

Teach students to generate a hypothesis and then research to test and refine it.

Have students identify and correct uncited summaries and paraphrases in sample papers.

If a student only cites direct quotes, ask about summaries and paraphrases.

 

6THEY HAVE DIFFICULTY INTEGRATING SOURCE

MATERIAL INTO THEIR OWN EXPOSITION OR ARGUMENT
It’s not easy to write an effective summary, paraphrase without plagiarizing, and incorporate quotations. This is particularly true when students are simultaneously figuring out what they think and learning how to formulate their argument.
What Can You Do?

Teach students to put their source material out of sight when they summarize or paraphrase.

If citations only come at the end of paragraphs, the student may think the ending citation covers all borrowing in the paragraph.

 

5THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE

MAKE A FUSS ABOUT SOURCES
Students often do not see themselves as members of a scholarly community that is collectively building knowledge (Ashworth & Bannister, 1997). These students will ask, “If the source says the same thing I’m saying, do I have to cite it?” Even those who understand the need for sources find the conventions for citing overly fussy and secondary to “actual” writing (Ashworth & Bannister, 1997). Their annoyance is heightened when they discover that citations guides never cover every case and teacher expectations vary.

What Can You Do?

Give students real-world opportunities to debate ideas and build knowledge.

Teach students to extrapolate from examples presented in style manuals.

Develop a consistent approach to citation with other teachers in your school.

 

4THEY ARE SLOPPY

When Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was accused of plagiarism, she explained that she had inadvertently relied on notes that she thought were her own words. If a professional historian can get confused, it is not surprising that students do so as well.

What Can You Do?

Teach students strategies for organizing notes.

Insist that students include citations, even if in rough form, in all drafts.

 

3THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT

THEY NEED TO CITE FACTS, FIGURES AND IDEAS

Numbers, in particular, are something students often neglect to cite.

What Can You Do?

If there are more sources in the references than in the text, ask where the source is used.

See the suggestions for #6 and #7 above.

 

2THEY ARE LEARNING

Some composition scholars argue that students who abuse paraphrasing by inverting word order or changing word forms are trying to digest new material. Such “patchwriting” is part of a long tradition of learning to write by copying expert writers (Howard, 1995).

What Can You Do?

Treat patchwritten papers as early drafts.

Teach students strategies for making sense of and analyzing new material.

 

1THEY ARE USED TO A COLLABORATIVE MODEL OF KNOWLEDGE AND PRODUCTION

For students who have grown up with sampled music and video mashups, who come from different cultural backgrounds, or who write collaboratively in other contexts, the idea that they should distinguish their own words from those of others can be confusing (Price, 2002). Composition scholars point out that plagiarism is largely a modern concept and that research into the socially constructed nature of knowledge challenges the idea of the author as a singular creative force (Bowden, 1996; Howard, 1995;

Woodmansee & Jaszi, 1995).

What Can You Do?

Review examples that highlight the context-specific nature of

plagiarism (Price, 2002).

Discuss the reasons for citing sources.

Have students debate gray area cases.

 

Reprinted from the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, with permission from Phi Delta Kappa International, www.pdkintl.org. All rights reserved. References used for this article can be found on Page 39.

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