Accuracy of referencing and patterns of plagiarism in electronically published theses

Erja Moore


Research on accuracy of referencing has shown deficiencies in both students' and researchers' efforts to cite accurately. Students' attitudes and understanding about what constitutes plagiarism has been researched extensively, but there is much less evidence about actual patterns of plagiarism. This study aimed to analyse both accuracy of referencing and plagiarism in electronically published theses. The data consisted of a sample of theses published in Theseus database, which is an electronic publication forum for universities of applied sciences in Finland. Altogether 91 theses in the areas of health and business studies formed the purposive sample for this study. Thesis texts were analysed by comparing the in-text citations to references, and in case of frequent inaccuracy a Google search was used to scrutinise possible plagiarism. The accuracy of referencing was classified in four categories: accurate, some inaccuracy, constant inaccuracy, and misleading referencing/plagiarism. Examples of inaccurate referencing, misleading referencing and plagiarism are presented in the article.

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