Four out of ten South Korean students has plagiarised

More than 40% of South Korean university students have plagiarised, a survey has found.

Four out of ten students admitted copying and pasting material from the internet and submitting it as their own work. The surveys were sent to over 370 South Korean undergraduates studying a range of subjects by UK-based website Plagiarism Advice.org, which provides expert advice and training to the education sector.

The site is sponsored by Turnitin, the world-leading plagiarism prevention tool which is already used by Korean higher education institutions including POSTECH, KAIST, Hanyang University, Yonsei University and others.

Students were asked a range of questions around their perceptions of plagiarism and how their university tackles the problem.

Over 70% of students who responded said they were in favour of teachers and tutors using plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin to check their work.

But just one in five thought that their university or college was taking the problem of plagiarism seriously enough. Turnitin’s Academic Advisor, Gill Rowell, said: "Students seem to have a reasonable level of awareness about plagiarism and the various activities which constitute academic misconduct, however the guidance from their institution seems to be lacking.

"Almost 70% of students feel that their university or college guidelines don’t make it clear how to correctly reference other people’s work.

"Students were generally in favour of using detection software such as Turnitin and were keen to uphold the reputation of their institution.

"But worryingly around 40% of students admitted to small scale plagiarism."

Around 300 undergraduates, at different stages of their courses, responded to the anonymous surveys.

Professor Woojin Paik, former director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and currently Professor of Computer Science at Konkuk University Glocal Campus, said: "The survey results confirm what I learned while I was teaching. Most of the students knew that they were copying others' work but did not know exactly what to do.

"However, once they reviewed their work after it had been screened by detection software they understood their mistakes and didn’t repeat them.

"I believe that plagiarism detection software can play a major role in maintaining academic integrity in Korea."

The majority of students who responded to the survey had a good understanding of plagiarism and knew that purchasing work from essay banks and copying text from the internet without referencing the original source were against the regulations of their university or college.

However they were less clear about group work and working with other students on assignments when they were supposed to be working alone, known as ‘collusion’. Just 55% understood that this was against the rules.

Ms Rowell added: "South Korean students are not unique in this respect, many students find this area confusing."