'Not necessarily a bad thing ...': A study of online plagiarism amongst undergraduate students

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Whilst the copying, falsification and plagiarism of essays and assignments has long been a prevalent form of academic misconduct amongst undergraduate students, the increasing use of the internet in higher education has raised concern over enhanced levels of online plagiarism and new types of cyber-cheating . Based on a self-report study of 1222 undergraduate students, this paper explores the nature and patterning of online plagiarism amongst students in UK higher educational institutions. The data find around three-fifths of students self-reporting at least a moderate level of internet-based plagiarism during the past 12 months, with significant differences in terms of gender, educational background and-most notably-subject discipline. Students online plagiarism was also found to correlate strongly with their self-reported levels of offline plagiarism. The data therefore highlight the need to contextualize online plagiarism in relation to the wider life-world of the contemporary university student and, in particular, the role of the internet in their everyday non-academic lives. The paper concludes by discussing how university authorities may go about addressing internet-based plagiarism in the contemporary university setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465 - 479
Number of pages15
JournalAssessment & Evaluation in Higher Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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