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Plagiarism in Graduate Students’ Applied Research Essay (Article)

The problem Statement and its Development


Academic plagiarism is at an all-time high amid graduate students across the globe. Plagiarism is regarded as a serious academic dishonesty since it dents the principle that academic research will augment an existing research. Research shows that students are increasingly practicing academic dishonesty via the internet. Most lecturers admit that the majority students submit plagiarized research papers and essays.

The professors blame the increase in the cases of plagiarism to the growth in technology. A majority of the graduate students advertently engage in academic dishonesty. Having been in school for over fifteen years, the students have adequate knowledge on the imperativeness of academic integrity. Moreover, some students know how to avoid plagiarism as well as its impacts. Unfortunately, most graduate students “are ill-prepared for the challenges of graduate study” (Born, 2013, p. 223).

According to Born (2013), at least 40% of the applied research papers that engineering, science, mathematics and technology students submit are plagiarized. Indeed, the challenge of plagiarism is not only prevalent among graduate level students but also master’s students. The following section of this article discusses the problem, objective, research questions and methodology followed to answer the research questions.

The problem addressed in this study is the methods of dealing with the issue of plagiarism in applied research papers amid graduate students, which threatens to weaken the quality of academic research. One study evaluated the varied strategies that can help to reduce cheating and inculcate good writing and referencing skills amid students pursuing a degree in psychology. The study focused on the effectiveness of plagiarism checker in curbing plagiarism (Bretag, 2013). Additionally, it assessed the students’ capacity to reference the academic sources that they use to compile their applied research papers. The study found that the use of plagiarism checker helps to reduce cases of academic dishonesty among graduate students.

Statement of the Problem

This paragraph demonstrates the significance of the problem since in the contemporary academic world institutions are grappling to eradicate plagiarism, which is affecting the quality of the graduate students that universities release into the market as well as the quality of scholarly research. A study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of using online academic candor software to curb plagiarism in applied research assignments amid learners.

The study carried out a pre-intervention assessment, which showed that over 25% of the assignments were plagiarized. After the use of the software, it was found that only 6.5% of the research papers were copied (Born, 2013). The students who plagiarized performed poorly compared with those who did not engage in academic dishonesty. The study demonstrated that involvement in academic dishonesty affects the quality of scholarly work and students’ performance. A majority of the students who do poorly in their education are likely to plagiarize in an attempt to improve their grade. Bretag (2013) holds that many students cheat due to lack of experience in how to credit the sources they use to compile their research papers. The following section of the study addresses the gaps in the research.

The first gap in the research is that a majority of the studies that discuss how to reduce plagiarism in applied research papers focus on the cases of cheating that arise from the use of the internet. Even though mostly plagiarism results due to the use of academic materials that are readily available on the web, students also copy the assignments of their colleagues, which amount to cheating. It would be hard to determine how to curb this form of cheating using previous studies.

The second gap in the research is that previous studies did not focus on how to reduce plagiarism that might arise as a result of the students using books from the library. Not all books are accessible online. Thus, it might be hard to detect plagiarism among the graduate students who do their research in the university libraries. This study seeks to come up with ways to reduce all forms of plagiarisms. Many lecturers claim that the cases of graduate students copying from each other are common.

Besides, some students lift the information they obtain from books without crediting the authors (Bretag, 2013). Thus, there is the need to come up with measures to encourage academic honesty amid the graduate students. Some studies suggest the use of measures like curriculum rotation to avoid cases of learners copying from their predecessors. The next paragraph exemplifies the significance of this research and the audiences that will benefit from the study.

The reduction of plagiarism in applied research papers amid graduate level students helps different stakeholders. First, it helps the students. The learners become self-reliant enabling them to make an informed judgment. Additionally, it saves the students from being suspended or even expelled from school due to academic dishonesty. The objective of every learner is to join a tertiary institution, go through the learning course, and come out with a good grade.

No student would like to be suspended for violating academic regulations. Second, reduction of plagiarism in applied research papers among graduate level students helps to boost the quality of existing and future research. Foster (2002) holds that academic cheating affects the students’ capacity to contribute to current research. It promotes laziness among the graduate level students. Consequently, the students cannot take the initiative to scrutinize existing research papers and attempt to build on what is already known. A study conducted on 3,600 graduate students who worked as researchers found that over 33% of the scientists were involved in dubious research practices (Foster, 2002).

Engaging in academic dishonesty like plagiarism may lead to a person losing his/her career. Numerous renowned personalities have been forced to quit their jobs because of engaging in academic irregularities. For instance, a German Minister of Defense was forced to resign for plagiarizing his dissertation. Thus, coming up with ways to reduce plagiarism would benefit not only the graduate students and researchers but also individuals in the working class who would like to advance their academic qualifications in the future. The next paragraph will outline the primary objective of this study.

Purpose of Research

The primary objective of this study is to identify the measures that can help to reduce plagiarism in applied research papers among the graduate students. The reduction of cheating has a direct impact on students’ performance, quality of education, and future research.

Research Question

What strategies can tertiary institutions use to minimize plagiarism in applied research papers amid graduate level students?

Limitation of the Study

The primary limitation of this research is that the data used for the survey focuses on fighting academic cheating that occurs as a result of the use of World Wide Web. The future studies should consider the modes of plagiarism that do not entail the utilization of the internet.

Definition of Terms

Plagiarism- It can be defined as taking another party’s scholarly work and using it as your own without acknowledging the author.


This research offers valuable insights for lecturers and leaders of the tertiary institutions on how to minimize plagiarism in applied research papers amid graduate level students. The research is aimed at curbing academic dishonesty in tertiary institutions by leveraging proved methods of reducing cheating. The study uses a survey methodology, and the data was gathered from universities in the Missouri State of USA.

Review of Related Literature


The primary objective of this study is to help tertiary institutions to come up with strategies to reduce plagiarism in applied research papers amid graduate level students in the United States. Foster (2002) claims that cheating has transformed a majority of graduate students into academic consumers. Many students are unable to make good use of the learning materials they get from the academic institutions.

The students buy papers from online sources to make sure that they get good grades. Many studies discuss the various ways that learning institutions can minimize plagiarism among the graduate level students. Foster (2002) claims that organizational leaders cannot reduce cheating if they do not understand it and how it arises. Hence, this section will start by discussing the issue of plagiarism as a form of academic dishonesty. The paper will then discuss the various approaches that can be used to minimize plagiarism in applied research papers among graduate level students.


Hollinger and Lanza-Kaduce (1996) defined plagiarism as “the wrongful stealing and publication of another author’s language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions and representation of them as one’s original work” (p. 298). According to Hollinger and Lanza-Kaduce (1996), the issue of plagiarism remains contentious with ambiguous regulations and delineations. Plagiarism is regarded a serious form of academic treachery and an infringement on journalistic principles.

The vice is subject to severe punishments that include, and not limited to deferral, penalties, and dismissal from a tertiary institution. Hollinger and Lanza-Kaduce (1996) argued, “Plagiarism is not in itself a crime, but can constitute copyright infringement” (p. 303).

In journalism and academic circles, plagiarism is regarded as a grave ethical misdemeanor. There is a significant correlation between copyright violation and plagiarism. Nevertheless, the two offenses are not alike. Most instances of plagiarism do not amount to copyright infringement. Statutory guidelines govern copyright infringement while educational institutions regulate plagiarism.

According to Lasarenko (2006), plagiarism is a major impediment to the realization of academic integrity. Plagiarism functions in an undesirable scholarly space. No grounds can justify cheating. Most graduate level students plagiarize due to time constraint, the desire to achieve a good grade and poor writing skills. These factors do not stand as justifying conditions. Nevertheless, the factors are helpful to the faculty leaders in the fight against plagiarism.

The rise of the Internet and World Wide Web has exacerbated the problem of cheating in applied research papers amid graduate level students. Besides, many tertiary institutions do not have severe penalties to reprimand those who plagiarize. Lasarenko (2006) warns that without proper retribution, steadiness and palpable and visible repercussions, schools are less likely to end plagiarism.

Minimizing Plagiarism

No single approach has been proven as effective in minimizing cheating in applied research papers amid graduate level students. Therefore, to reduce dishonesty, the lecturers need to come up with measures that discourage students from engaging in the academic deceit rather than focusing on how the students plagiarize or what motivates them to participate in this transgression (Lasarenko, 2006). The instructors need to come up with a proactive approach to fighting plagiarism.

Lasarenko (2006) identifies three approaches to reducing deceit in applied research papers amid graduate level students. The approaches are awareness, discovery and deterrence. Even though there is the need for the establishment of an institutional structure to minimize plagiarism, the individual lecturer has the responsibility to assist his/her learners to avoid plagiarizing. The professors ought to come up with deliberate prevention mechanisms.

First, the teacher should ensure that students know what plagiarism is and its impacts. Students come from diverse backgrounds. As a result, they have distinct definitions and understanding of plagiarism. It underscores the reason some students submit their previous assignments without knowing that it also amounts to self-plagiarism. The instructors require organizing for remedial instructions to ensure that students have adequate knowledge of plagiarism and how it arises. Loutzenhiser, Pita and Reed (2006) claim that remediation facilitates the reduction of cheating in applied research papers amid newcomers and undereducated learners.

Second, once the lecture is confident that students understand the concept of plagiarism, he/she can structure research papers in a manner that does not leave room for plagiarism. According to Loutzenhiser et al. (2006), a lecturer can minimize cheating amid graduate level students by integrating research limiters into the structure of the assignment. Limiters prevent the students from copying other people’s research papers. They make it difficult for a student to find a similar research paper in the Internet or World Wide Web. An example of a research limiter is one that requires students to include recent case studies in their writings.

The use of limiters may significantly minimize the learner’s capacity to plagiarize. Nevertheless, the limiters may not deter a student who is determined to copy. Some students go to an extent of hiring people to write for them or purchasing research papers from paper mills. Currently, there are multiple paper mills, which can deliver research papers that are tailored to the needs of individual students. Therefore, for the instructors to deter students from procuring jobs from online paper mills, they need to use limiters jointly with process methodology. The third approach that instructors can apply to reduce plagiarism is to “integrate all or part of the process method into the written applied research paper” (Loutzenhiser et al., 2006, p. 57).

Integration of process methodology into a research paper entails structuring the assignment in a way that it constitutes numerous parts that a student needs to complete in succession. The student is supposed to submit each part of the research paper after completion. Such a measure would discourage the learners from plagiarizing. Asking students to submit their research papers upon completion of the course encourages plagiarism. Instructors should monitor the students to know how they progress with the projects (Moeck, 2002).

Some students do not begin their tasks until the end of the semester draws close. Such students do not have adequate time to complete the projects. Consequently, they look for an easy way of finishing the research papers, which leads to plagiarism. As per Loutzenhiser et al. (2006), instructors need to supervise the students to discourage them from copying.

Martin (2012) maintains that lecturers may reduce plagiarism in applied research papers by assigning group activities. Mostly, students plagiarize or purchase research papers when required to submit projects individually. The lecturer may divide the class into different groups and ask each group to present a single applied research paper. It would discourage the students from plagiarizing due to the fear of being noticed by their colleagues.

Allowing students to organize themselves into groups based on how they know one another may encourage plagiarism. The students would not fear one another, thus engaging in academic dishonesty freely. According to Martin (2012), the lecturer should ensure that each group comprises of students who are not too acquainted with one another. Besides forming groups, the instructors should structure the research papers in the form of discussions.

Assignments that require students to give an account of their experience are difficult to plagiarize. Therefore, the assignments should be structured in the form of personal research papers that are hard to duplicate.

Some students seek assistance from friends who are not members of their class but have experience in certain subjects. Mostly, lectures do not give applied research papers on a regular basis. Besides, they always inform the students in advance whenever they intend to give tasks. Alerting students about a pending research paper gives them an opportunity to organize with their friends. The examination regulations require instructors to notify students about pending tests.

Therefore, the lecturers must come up with ways to ensure that students do not engage in plagiarism by conspiring with friends. The best way to minimize cases of students getting assistance from people who are not registered in class is to give assignments often. It would be hard for the outsiders to be available every time the lecturer issues an applied research paper assignment. Besides, many outsiders would not be willing to spend a lot of their time on tests that cannot benefit them directly. According to Park (2004), issuing research papers on regular basis encourages students to study. The students ensure that they are conversant with what is taught, thus minimizing chances of plagiarism.

Saltmarsh (2004) recommends assigning in-class research papers as an effective method of reducing plagiarism amid graduate level students. According to Talab (2004), many students plagiarize when allowed to do the assignments at home. Indeed, homework contributes to procrastination amid students. The students think that they have adequate time to handle the assignment. Eventually, they end up running out of time forcing them to copy from their colleagues or the internet.

In-class research papers encourage students to prepare in advance. The students do not get a chance to copy from their friends or the web because of the presence of the lecturer. Moreover, the students do not get time to organize with friends to do the assignment on their behalf. Tenner (2005) argues that make up research papers encourage plagiarism. The students get time to get information from friends who compiled the research papers previously. Eventually, the students submit research papers that bear the ideas of their colleagues.


Instructors can use various measures to reduce cheating in applied research papers amid graduate level students. The lecturers must ensure that students are aware of plagiarism and its impacts. Some strategies that can facilitate reduction of plagiarism include the incorporation of limiters in research papers. Breaking a research paper into successive steps can help the lecturer monitor the student’s progress, thus discouraging cheating. Other measures that can contribute to reducing plagiarism include giving assignments often, assigning in-class research papers, as well as avoiding make up research assignments.



The issue addressed in this research paper is the measures that tertiary institutions can use to reduce plagiarism in applied research paper among the graduate level students. The method applied in this study seeks to answer the following question:

What strategies can tertiary institutions use to minimize cheating in applied research paper amid graduate students?

This chapter will discuss the research design, participants, instruments, procedures, and data analysis. Each part will be covered separately.


The research study will use quantitative data obtained through a survey. The survey will examine the various approaches that tertiary institutions use to minimize plagiarism in applied research paper amid graduate level students. Besides, it will review the opinions of the lectures regarding the effectiveness of the approaches. The numeric data obtained from the participants will be analyzed to determine the most effective method of curbing plagiarism.

Participants or Subjects

The participants in this research will comprise lecturers from tertiary institutions. The samples for the study will be acquired from different universities in the Missouri State. The samples will be filtered to involve only the instructors that deal with graduate level students. The study will use a stratified sampling technique to select participants. Lecturers from different universities will be divide into subgroups, and participants selected randomly from the different strata. The researcher will contact the management of the chosen schools via phone to seek their approval to go on with the study.


The researcher will utilize survey to measure the different variables for the study. Additionally, the researcher will use questionnaires that will comprise three sections. The first part will include questions that require the participants to give their backgrounds as well as that of the institutions. The second section will comprise questions that need the participants to describe the different measures that they use to minimize plagiarism in applied research papers. The third part will consist of questions that assess the opinions of the participants regarding the standards they use to curb cheating in applied research papers.

The researcher will use a Likert scale to gather the views of the members. The scale will range from 1 to 5. The values will correspond to firmly agree and firmly disagree respectively. They will be significant in determining the effectiveness of the different approaches that lecturers use to fight plagiarism.


The accuracy of a study depends on the method of data collection and analysis. Researcher ought to select an appropriate method of data collection based on the objectives of the survey and the number of participants. The researcher will follow a sequence of steps to guarantee the precision of data collection and the findings of the study. The following are some of the steps that the researcher will follow.

  1. Seeking the necessary approval from the supervisor to collect data from the human subjects. The supervisor will help in the identification of the right participants for the study.
  2. Seeking approval from the tertiary institutions whose lecturers will be part of the research subjects.
  3. Furnishing the universities and the individual participants with the objectives of the study.
  4. Seeking the consent from the participants
  5. Once the participants confirm their membership, the researcher will send questionnaires via email
  6. The researcher will collect data according to the objective of the study
  7. The members will submit the completed questionnaires via email
  8. The researcher will use appropriate statistical techniques to analyze the received data
  9. After compiling the results, the researcher will draw a conclusion that signifies the correlation between the research variables and their impacts

Data Analysis

The researcher will use inferential and descriptive statistics to examine and compute the gathered information. Descriptive statistics will facilitate the computation of the average, mode, and standard deviation. Conversely, the inferential statistic will be invaluable in deriving the correlation between the variables. The researcher will use charts, graphs, and tables to present the findings of the study. Charts and graphs are easy to understand. Hence, they will help in the interpretation of the results. The conclusion of the study will be assessed based on the charts, graphs, and the tables.


For this study, the researcher uses a quantitative method to collect and analyze data. The objective of the survey is to determine how lecturers can reduce plagiarism in applied research papers amid graduate level students. The study evaluates the different techniques used to reduce cheating to determine the most effective. The researcher seeks approval from the participating universities. Moreover he sensitizes the participants on the objectives and significance of the study.

The pollster asks permission from the lecturers who are to participate in the study. The study gathers data using questionnaires. The questionnaires are divided into three sections to facilitate the collection of comprehensive data. The researcher will send questionnaires via email and request the participants to submit the completed questionnaires via the same medium. The pollster will use inferential and descriptive statistics to analyze the collected data. The researcher will use graphs, charts and tables to present the findings of the study.


Born, A. (2013). Teaching tip: How to reduce plagiarism. Journal of Information Systems Education, 14(3), 223-224.

Bretag, T. (2013). Challenges in addressing plagiarism in education. PLoS Medicine: A Peer-Reviewed, Open Access Journal, 10(12), 114-127.

Foster, A. (2002). Plagiarism-detection tool creates legal quandary. Chronicle of Higher Education, 48(36), 37-39.

Hollinger, R., & Lanza-Kaduce, L. (1996). Academic dishonesty and the perceived effectiveness of countermeasures: An empirical survey of cheating at a major public university. NASPA Journal, 33(4), 292-306.

Lasarenko, J. (2006). Teaching paraphrase, summary, and plagiarism: An integrated approach. Exercise Exchange, 41(2), 10–12.

Loutzenhiser, K., Pita, A., & Reed, J. (2006). Revisiting plagiarism in an Internet Era: How modern technology contributes to the problem and solutions. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 3(8), 55-62.

Martin, B. (2012). Plagiarism: A misplaced emphasis. Journal of Information Ethics, 3(2), 36-47.

Moeck, P. (2002). Academic dishonesty: Cheating among community college students. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 29(1), 470-491.

Park, C. (2004). Rebels with a cause: Towards an institutional framework for dealing with plagiarism by students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28(3), 291-306.

Saltmarsh, S. (2004). Graduating tactics: Theorizing plagiarism as consumptive practice. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 28(4), 445-454.

Talab, R. (2004). A student online plagiarism guide: detection and prevention resources. TechTrends, 48(6), 15-18.

Tenner, E. (2005). Rise of plagiosphere. Technology Review, 108(6), 76-83.

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