The way a person writes as well as the words he or she uses depicts the person’s background. This may sometimes expose a person into trouble when it comes to academic works. According to Cameron, Zhao, and McHugh (2012), while the most scientific publications are in English, the majority of writers are non-native English speakers which sometimes lead to unethical action named plagiarism. Plagiarism is defined by James, Miller, and Wyckoff (2017) as “using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without proper authorization, the representation of that authors work as one’s own, such as not crediting the original author.
” While plagiarism may be conducted intentionally or unintentionally, identifying the main reasons for performing that could be helpful to avoid the negative consequences. The reason for plagiarizing could be explained by language barriers as well as cultural differences that would result in different types of academic penalties.
One of the main reasons for plagiarism is related to language among non- native English speaking writers.
International students are the main example of non- native English speaking writers. International students have to devote more time and energy to prepare an assignment in English than in their native language; as a result, they take shortcuts like plagiarism to cover their priority which is preparing an article or gaining professional opportunities. Cameron, Zhao, and McHugh (2012) explain the issue with a survey conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center which represented that international students spend at least twice or more times to prepare their research in English than their native language which resulted in losing their professional opportunities.
Moreover, another difficulty international students face while researching in English is the fear of using the right synonym and correct connotation that leads them to plagiarism. In other words, they not only have to understand the concept correctly but also have to find a proper substitute to practice. Cameron, Zhao, and McHugh (2012) mention, students are unwilling to take a risk to use synonyms and connotations which would probably be wrong as their language barriers, so they intend to take risk of using original words and do plagiarism.
The different cultural backgrounds of the writers could be another plausible reason for plagiarism. Cultural heritage plays an important role in shaping the person’s mindset, and when it comes to academic education, the significant differences could become problematic at serious levels. While some students have been educated in an environment in which there were no standards and rules to follow in order to not to do plagiarism and there were no penalties for those who break the rules, in some other areas, such as the U.S. the students even in high schools learn standard citation styles and the offender will be punished strictly (Cameron, Zhao, and McHugh, 2012). Therefore, the students from the former environment are simply committed plagiarism as they were never penalized because there were not in their culture and they get used to it. Furthermore, cultural differences could form the person’s mind in some other ways as well. In China, James, Miller, and Wyckoff (2017) estate that students learn there is just one correct answer which is announced by the instructor, and the students should imitate the instructor; otherwise, they fail. As a consequence, the Chinese students learn to imitate the experts even in their writing to gain the highest mark as their cultural heritage, while they don’t know it is considered plagiarism.
Conducting plagiarism could have compensable or irrecoverable effects on an individual’s education. Whether the person conducts plagiarism intentionally or unintentionally, it results in penalties depending on the level of academic misconduct (UCW policy,2017). In low levels, it leads to repetition of the assignment or failing grade or suspension which are considered compensable; however, the time lost could not be compensated. In high levels, it leads expulsion out of school, institute or university that is not recoverable. On the other hand, the person not only would lose time but also the credit which may negatively affect his or her future. Cameron, Zhao, and McHugh (2012) highlight a postdoctoral student kicked out of school since she coped a lot from a journal without citing, although she said she was in time pressure!
Overall, although there are some limitations for each person such as language barriers and cultural differences which lead to academic misconduct as plagiarism, the outcome of the misbehavior is not free from shortcoming. While plagiarism could have varied negative effects on different academic levels, it comes to mind that does it worth to do an action that results in losing credit other than losing time and energy?