Cheating is one of the major problems that exists in the academic environment and is presently the most important issues at tertiary level education. Research has shown that a significantly large number of undergraduates cheat and this number has increased in the past thirty years (McCabe et al., 2001). In addition even graduate students tend to cheat as much as the undergraduate students. Nonis & Swift, (2001) in their research have found that there are links between dishonesty as a student and dishonesty in their subsequent careers. Thus the impact of dishonesty like cheating in academic life may have far-reaching consequences.
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Partly this increase in cheating plagiarism is associated with students understanding of the Information technology, the internet, online student guides and research papers and the simplicity in how information can be downloaded and used. And this kind of cheating has become common knowledge as it has also gained public attention. Easy access to the internet is one of the reason why there has been a drop in academic honesty and responsibility specifically in the case of plagiarism as there are indications of extensive plagiarism in universities and colleges. According to one report:”officials at some colleges say that in recent years they have seen a sharp increase in students cutting and pasting material into papers from Web sites without attribution, or purchasing term papers from online term-paper mills” (Young, 2001, A26). There are several ways through which students cheat using internet.
- First are all the research papers and existing research done by scholars and other articles and e-books, students in this case take information from these sources and fail to attribute it to the original writers trying to pass it off as their own.
- Secondly they use the different websites like cliff-notes which provide information on different subjects and directly cut and paste the information.
- Third instead of writing their own assignments and papers they either use pre-written papers that are being sold on the paper mills or order customized papers spending large amounts of money and getting their work done by others.
In the first two cases they may be directly copying or rewording the original text without citing proper references while in the third case they use the help of the papers mills to do their work for them, all three cases are of cheating.
The advent of information technology has aggravated the problem of plagiarism which has existing for many years on university campuses. In addition internet plagiarism also leads to the questions of academic honesty as many of the online sources are used not only by the students but also by the teachers and professors and leads to the issue of correct referencing and usage of online resources. As a result academicians and university administrators should be aware and concerned about how the students perceive the information available on the internet and the difference between fair and unfair use of resources which are so easily available.
Plagiarism on the net has a very unique position, the structure of internet permits the easy access and manipulation of information and copying of ideas. Today students can access ideas and concepts without being first aware about the actual concepts. And since there is so much information available that it is quite easy to conceal or cover the misuse of another’s ideas. In this kind of environment it seems that plagiarism is expected. This though does not mean that internet is responsible for plagiarism rather that the message given by this easy access to information is confusing. But for those who are more inclined towards using other people’s work and passing it off as their own as now it is much more easier than it was before, however those who want to use it ethically can use it too.
What is significant that in addition to a rise in cheating through internet has led to a more more confused state where the old ethical laws and arguments become qquite hazy. In an article in The New York Times Senator Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican is quoted as saying “Law, technology and ethics are not in sync right now”. (Lee, 2003)In the same article Ann Fabian a professor at Rutgers University believes that “The Web has changed notions of intellectual property, and we don’t have the norms to deal with it.” (Lee, 2003)
Today with greater technological advancement the context of cheating has also been evolving and developing. Presently although cheating has significantly increased however students do not consider it important as they believe that it is a new reality, and the traditional concept of cheating is also transforming. However the ethical questions regarding the usage of information from the internet without attributing the material to the original writer is a misrepresentation and proper citation is extremely important because plagiarism amounts to academic dishonest or academic fraud. New definitions and new policies are needed to deal with this technology related cheating.
Lee F R. (2003). Are More People Cheating?; Despite Ample Accounts Of Dishonesty, a Moral Decline Is Hard to Calculate, New York Times. Web.
McCabe. D. L., Trevino. L. K., and Butterfield, K. D. (2001). Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of research. Ethics & Behavior, 11(3), 219-232.
Nonis, S., and Swift, C. O. (2001). An examination of the relationship between academic dishonesty and workplace dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Journal of Education for Business.,76(1), 69-77.
Young, J. R. (2001). The cat-and-mouse game of plagiarism detection. Chronicle ofHigher Education, A26-A27.