Teachers don't recognise plagiarism, students believe

More than three quarters of Brazilian students believe teachers would not spot plagiarism in their work, a survey has found.

Students from around 50 universities and colleges across the country were asked about their experiences and understanding of plagiarism.

Just 23% thought their tutors were capable of detecting unoriginal work.

More than 250 undergraduates and postgraduates studying a range of subjects responded to the surveys, carried out 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 UNESP and USP.

Over 85% of students were in favour of using detection software such as Turnitin.

Turnitin’s Academic Advisor, Gill Rowell, said: "Students seem to have a good level of awareness about plagiarism and the various activities which constitute academic misconduct.

"Students were overwhelmingly in favour of using detection software and were keen to uphold the reputation of their university.

"But worryingly, only around one in three felt their institution was taking the issue of plagiarism seriously enough."

Almost 90% of students were opposed to plagiarism, as they felt it devalued the qualification they were working towards, however more than a quarter admitted to having plagiarised themselves.

Many students felt that education about plagiarism and how to cite properly should begin at an early age.

One said: "This should be taught from elementary school to avoid these issues in later academic life."

And several agreed that they needed clearer direction from their tutors.

Professor Marcelo Krokoscz, of Alvares Penteado Business College Foundation (FECAP), who is set to host a series of weekly webinars with Plagiarismadvice.org, agreed.

He said: "Perhaps we assume that every student knows how to write scientific reports. That’s a mistake!

"How can we tell students not to plagiarise if we do not teach them how to write academically?

"I’m encouraged by the fact that the majority of students surveyed agree with the use of detection software because although it is a means of catching people, it is also an aid to teaching correct academic writing and referencing."

Professor Krokoscz will run three online seminars on the subject of plagiarism and academic integrity, starting on August 22. Each session will be accompanied by a free tip sheet, which will be available to download. Professor Krokoscz added: "The webinars will provide invaluable insights into how teachers can foster a culture of honesty and promote integrity in their students’ work." For further information or to register visit www.eventbrite.com/event/7604736973