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Plagiarism is referred to as literary theft and academic dishonesty, which usually occurs when someone copies the work, ideas and opinions of another author and expresses them as though they are his own without giving credit to the originator. It is very common among higher learning academicians especially when doing write ups for their projects, term papers or thesis.
Plagiarism is a very serious offence and it can attract penalties since copyright takes authors words as his own property and the author has rights to sue in the court of law in case of plagiarism. Plagiarizing not only involves written materials but also piracy in music and other properties.
On the other hand academic integrity refer to a situation whereby students in higher learning institution hold highly on the moral values academics and do their work honestly without cheating (Drinan and Gallant, 2010). It encourages acts of independent learning and critical thinking (White, Owens, and Nguyen 2007).
To maintain academic integrity, academicians should avoid acts of dishonesty, cheating, plagiarism among others. Institutions of higher learning should encourage academic integrity since it really helps students to develop academically and it makes it easy for them to face all kinds of challenges in their area of study.
Academicians give several reasons for plagiarizing some of which include: to help a friend, time pressure, extenuating circumstances, peer pressure, to increase the mark, monetary reward, fear of failure, everybody does it, laziness, lack of research skills, institution admission criteria, poor academic skills, student understanding of plagiarism, external pressure to succeed, careless tutors and invigilators, among others (Devlin and Gray, 2007).
Other reasons may be the advanced technology where by information is readily available online, financial problems where the student cannot afford resource materials, and low chance of being caught. Let us look at some of these reasons in details.
The following essay will show clearly what academic integrity entails, the reason behind plagiarism and how academicians may overcome it to maintain academic integrity.
Peer pressure is a very common scenario in many learning institutions and many students are not able to curb the challenge effectively (Devlin and Gray, 2007). International students are likely to fall to peer-pressure than local ones since they may be seeking comfort and friendship in a place far away from home where they are not familiar with most places and lifestyle. Peer pressure maybe as a result of several factors.
For example, a student may be working very hard to do an assignment honestly but on realizing that most of her classmates are plagiarizing, he/she may prone to do it too. In other instances, the local students in to adventure and having fun may easily influence international students and since they are new to the environment, they may have fun at the expense of the assignment leading to plagiarizing (Vermaat, 2008, Peer, 2009).
International students in higher learning institutions are usually involved in many activities such as jobs, family responsibilities and may be having many units to cover. This is because most of them are usually far away from their families thus they have to cater for their basic needs as they learn.
For instance, most of the international students in the institutions of higher learning do their studies part time after their usual economic businesses. Others are obsessed with having fun leaving very little time for their academic activities while some are generally lazy (Devlin and Gray, 2007).
Due to their big workload, they ought to have a very clear schedule for their activities. The ability of a student to manage his/her time well in college is a key to his/her success. Most of the research papers in higher learning institutions are meant to gauge the student qualification for the area he/she may be covering thus requires ample time.
Plagiarism in this case may be accelerated by procrastination whereby the student keeps on pushing the time to work on his paper until he/she is caught up with the deadline (UNSW, 2010). When students are caught up with the deadline, they are prone to panic and are therefore not able to concentrate or do enough research for their paper. They may end up getting involved in plagiarism to save the situation.
Most international students find it hard to adopt the new curriculum and may not be keen on giving enough time to their research paper because of the advanced technology. They know that they can still get the information from the internet or other books thus being reluctant.
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They may also be going through financial strain as they adapt to the new lifestyle or because their guardians are far away thus looking for means to support themselves as they do their studies. This may lead them to poor time management since the job may be draining most of their time leaving them with very little time for their research paper.
Pressure to succeed
Whenever a student joins any institution of higher learning, failing is never an option and the mission right from day one is to get the best grades possible. The pressure may even be more for international students since it takes some so much sacrifice and strain to seek better education at international institutions.
Pressure to succeed and fear of failure is perceived form all direction. For instance, the parents will always be proud of their child if he/she succeeds, the college always sets pass mark giving a student pressure to pass, whoever is learning also gets satisfaction and fulfillment after succeeding, the job market first absorbs the successful students, and in essence pressure to succeed comes from all direction (Sutherland-Smith, 2008)
The education system is so materialistic in a manner that there is always a reward for the successful student and therefore the student will take every action that will help him/her succeed. In this case, whenever a student is given any form of assignment, chances of plagiarism are so high since he/she to present the best work possible.
Through plagiarism, a student is assured of a better grade without putting so much effort or thinking too hard. Some students may be promised monetary gains in case of success while others may be lazy and want to get away with a good grade without sacrificing a lot. Other students may be taking courses they have a negative attitude towards, of which they have to pass thus making them prone to plagiarism (Devlin and Gray, 2007).
This mostly happens to international students when they realize hat most of their areas of study are different from what they were used to at home. This is probably because they do not understand the concept behind their area of study or else, there are just interested in passing to leave the area and do something of their interest. This comes about when students make uninformed decisions when choosing their area of study or guardians force them in to a certain profession.
How to overcome plagiarism
Institutions of higher learning can only curb the problem of plagiarism by fostering academic integrity, which is composed of the following principles (Drinan and Gallant, 2010): Honesty- The students and tutors should have a driving force to be honest in learning, research and in exams.
Honesty gives a student satisfaction and fulfillment on the grades achieved, enabling him/her to identify and work on his/her weak areas. For international students who may be facing challenges adapting to the new system, it is advisable to develop interest to learn and create more time in order to understand the concept.
Trust: Institutions of higher learning and their students should create an atmosphere of trust where by none of them is afraid that the other may be dishonest in one way or the other. This will minimize cases of peer pressure whereby some honest student are forced to copy since everyone in class is doing it. This way, they are able to exchange ideas freely and they can help each other build well on their research and writing talents.
Fairness: Tutors should always develop an attitude of fairness to their student’s right from the beginning whether they are local or international. They should be keen to encourage the honest students by rewarding their hard work well and putting strict measures to those caught with cases of dishonesty.
Many institutions have come up with means of capturing cases of academic dishonesty such as CCTV in exam rooms, software to detect digital plagiarism and this has encouraged student to work on their own thus getting fair rewards. Tutors should also be fair when marking papers in order to raise the morale of their students and should create a conducive environment for the international students to learn (Keuskamp and Sliuzas, 2007)
Respect: Academicians should hold the value of education dearly and with a lot of respect. Every credit in this field should be worked for and held with much integrity since it should be an evidence of the efforts the bearer has put towards its achievement. In this case students should manage their time carefully and this will enable them manage the pressure to pass without straining. It is therefore important to hold on to academic integrity and avoid cases of academic dishonesty.
Responsibility: Institutions of higher learning are meant to nature a spirit of responsibility not only in college but also in their day-to-day life. This should begin right from college where students should be responsible of their research papers by working hard without depending on other author’s materials. They should be taught the importance of time management and independence Local and international students should know the institutions mission right from the beginning in to work towards it.
Apart from the above principles of academic integrity, researchers should ensure that any information retrieved from another persons work is properly cited and references given. This can only be possible if the institution can facilitate on writing skills from the beginning of course work because many students get hardships when doing their write-ups due to lack of proper prior information.
Another way of overcoming plagiarism is through extensive discussions about it between the staff and the students in order to bring the issue to the light. This is because plagiarism has been hidden for many days through assumption that it is not a very serious issue. This leads many students to taking the issue lightly since they do not know much about plagiarism.
This is what leads to unintentional plagiarism since the student may think it is okay since no one talks about it. The staff should hole sessions with the students on time management and they way to live independently without much influence from the peers.
Academic integrity go hand in hand with plagiarism since for the former to operate, the latter should be totally avoided. When academic integrity is not upheld, it undermines the core values through which knowledge is obtained thus damaging the reputation of the larger academic community.
I would recommend that writing skills to be included in every curriculum as a common unit to give learners ample knowledge on how to learn independently and involve critical thinking whenever they are carrying out their assignments. It should be clear that plagiarism is a very serious offence, which should be discouraged in every institution. This is because most tutors and students have had a mentality that plagiarism is just one simple way of accomplishing their course of duty.
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