An examination of factors related to plagiarism and a five-year follow-up of plagiarism at an Australian university

Guy J Curtis, Razma Popal

Abstract


In this paper we report the results of a survey of student plagiarism carried out at the University of Western Sydney (UWS). This survey examined rates of plagiarism,understanding of plagiarism, perceived seriousness of plagiarism, and factors thought to be related to plagiarism such as the pressure students place on themselves to achieve high grades. Students who achieved higher grades plagiarised less than students who had lower grades. Perceived seriousness of plagiarism, students' competitiveness, and students’ self-imposed pressure to achieve high grades were correlated negatively with incidence of plagiarism. Perceived seriousness of plagiarism mediated the relationship between self-imposed pressure to achieve good grades and rates of plagiarism. The data from the present survey (conducted in 2009) were compared with data from comparable students who completed the same survey at UWS five years earlier (2004). The comparison between the 2009 and 2004 data suggested a reduction in prevalence of plagiarism and an increase in both understanding and perceived seriousness of plagiarism between 2004 and 2009. We suggest that plagiarism may be reduced by means of educational programs that promote the perception of plagiarism as a serious academic integrity issue.

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