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Plagiarism can be defined as the situation in which a student takes someone else ideas and present them as its own. Plagiarism is a common problem, usually due to a lack of understanding of what it is, how to avoid it, and how to prevent it in the future. Mainly, it is important to be aware of it in graduate school. Thus, before entering grad school, the student should be familiar with the term and forms of plagiarism and stay away from it.
Although the problem is old, like the world around us, it is still occurring and even encounters more often nowadays. According to a survey by Donald McCabe conducted from 2002 to 2005, around 24% of grad students self-report themselves by doing “paraphrasing/copying a few sentences from the Internet without footnoting it.” Another 25% of grad students admit that they are “paraphrasing/copying a few sentences from the written source without footnoting it.” Then, 7% admit to “fabricate/falsifying a bibliography.” 4% of grad students admit to “almost word to word copying from a written source without citation.
” 3% admit that paper was “done by another student.” And, 2% of grad students admit that “paper was obtained from a term paper mill.”
Motives for plagiarism can be a wide variety. One of the most common reasons in the modern world is the wide information accessibility throughout the Internet and new technologies. The information can be found on the Internet and easily used as one’s own. Based on the study by Jereb et al. (2018), the Internet was the main reason for the plagiarism for German and Slovene students.
Their study is supporting the works of others on the plagiarism that the world web net is the main driver for the misconduct issue on the higher education level. And it is not a surprise since the new generations of students are born in the world with the free Wi-Fi at each corner. Therefore, a temptation to find everything on the web by a single click is embedded in their behavior from childhood.
Cultural and language differences among grad and undergrad students can also play an important role in understanding the cause of plagiarism. Since different nations treat this problem differently, students who have slightly or drastically distinctive backgrounds can be looking at the problem of plagiarism from another viewpoint. Especially, this problem can arise within the community of international students in the United States. The number of international students’ enrollment in the US university is increasing every year (). Along with that, a number of plagiarism cases are rising as well. For instance, plagiarism among students with English as a second language at the University of Minnesota recorded at 85 percent (web site ). Other studies showed that students with English as not native language were also more involved in plagiarism issues on the undergraduate and graduate level of education. Based on Marshal and Garry (2006), around 83% of students with native non-English language are involved in plagiarism cases, while native English speakers had 65% plagiarism cases. According to Vieyra et al. (2013), international grad students (47%) in engineering plagiarized in the proposal writing more often than students with English as a native language (16%). Of course, it is not the case only in the US, but a problem with international students in other countries as well. Based on the results from a survey in Australia among students of a number of universities, international students had a lack of confidence in how to avoid and prevent plagiarism at both undergrad and graduate level (Bretag et al. 2003). Overall, the problem of breaking the academic integrity policy excites concerns on how to combat it and how to prevent it from the begging not just among native English speakers but also among international students.
In countries with collectivistic culture, the ideas can be shared among the scientific community and be used as collective knowledge. Thus, students from such an academic environment prone to avoid citations in the scientific paper. In countries of East Asia, students are more hierarchically restricted, and text memorization is considering as a respect to their teachers. In other words, scientists in Eastern countries are more socio-oriented in comparison to western countries when scientists more individually centered (Nisbet at el. 2001).
Russia can be considered as a collectivistic country. Although officially higher education in Russia is moving towards the Western approach, most of the academia is still holding on to the former Soviet Union system. The main reason can be the fact that most of the scientists in Russia were born and got their education and scientific training if the Soviet Union. Additionally, the average age of full members of the Russian Academy of Science is around 65 years. This means that culturally, science in Russia is still based on main approaches from Soviet Union time.
Plagiarism in Russia is a vast problem that brought attention in recent years. According to the Science journal, more than 800 articles were withdrawn from Russian scientific journals due to plagiarism violations. Along with the plagiarism problem, few other issues are common in the Russian scientific community. Based on my own experience, in scientific institutes, a practice to include in co-authors your college or make it as a gift to a senior scientist is a standard procedure. Along with that, the process of republishing your work is common practice as well.
As an international student, I came to the United States with little knowledge of what plagiarism is, how to recognize, and avoid it. Back in Russia, while studying in the university and then in graduate school, we did not have an ethics class. It was not required. Thus, the idea of plagiarism wasn’t so clear to me. I can understand many students who are coming to another country and trying to catch up with everything as fast as they can. Unfortunately, most of the time, you are confused and under a lot of stress. Cultural and social differences make you more susceptible to your surroundings, which case extra pressure. Hence, it is essential to have useful tools at the beginning of your higher education. Also, it is crucial to have an understanding community around you – people who will not judge and provide you with advice and support. As an undergrad or grad student, native English speaker or not native, you have a lot of responsibilities. Sometimes those responsibilities can be overwhelming, which can lead to loss of attention to crucial details. In that situation are the best to ask for help and extra time. In cases like this, people in your school, undergraduate or graduate, will listen, understand, and help you.
Many universities in the US and around the world nowadays are improving their approaches to teaching academic integrity among students. For instance, at the UMD, we have a writing center with specialists who can help with any questions about writing. Occasionally, workshops about plagiarism and ethics are taking place at the University of Minnesota Twins Cities. Some schools are started the mandatory workshops and seminars for international students even before entering a school. The main strategy for all listed above is to deliver a comprehensive message about standards of academic integrity and prevent plagiarism before it’s too late. And if it has happened, make sure to understand why. Because, based on many studies, the problem of misconduct behavior can rise from plenty of reasons, which still do not justify plagiarism as it is.
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