Tuesday, 18 July 2006


At the 7th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training, there was quite a bit of discussion and presentations on Plagiarism.

From the paper by Ass. prof. Nina Ree-Lindstad, Ass. prof. and Academic Librarian Kristin Røijen, Ass. prof. Tone Vold titled Experience with a plagiarism control module,

Encyclopaedia Britannica defines plagiarism as:
“The act of taking the writings of another person and passing them off as one's own. The fraudulence is closely related to forgery and piracy—practices generally in violation of copyright laws.
If only thoughts are duplicated, expressed in different words, there is no breach of contract. Also, there is no breach if it can be proved that the duplicated wordage was arrived at independently.”

However, this is not the only definition I heard during the conference. In Automatic Generation of Plagiarism Detection Among Student Programs by Rachel Edita Roxas, Nathalie Rose Lim and Natasja Bautista, they plagiarism detection program includes features to detect "modification of control structures, use of temporary variables and subexpressions, in-lining and re-factoring of methods, and redundancy (variables or methods that were not used)." This is more than just "copy-and-paste" plagiarism defined by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

In Impact of Unethical Practices of Plagiarism on Learning, Teaching and Research in Higher Education: Some Combating Strategies, Subrata Kumar Dey and M Abdus Sobhan looked at plagiarism in three different levels: students, researchers and teachers. In their survy of 6 higher education institutes in Bangladesh, they found out of 85 samples from "regular students", 3 downloading the material from Internet and submit as it is, 45 copy from peers, 22 buy from private tutor, 2 collect and submit old work, 76 use downloaded material with modification without mentioning the source, 65 copy one or more sections from books, articles etc without citation. Only 14 do not plagiarise.

Beyond the issue of copyright, plagiarism will be hindering the understanding of the material.

I have agreed with Ian Kennedy to start a process to create a common understanding of what is plagiarism in education (may be separately for higher education, secondary schools and life long). We agree that a board community based definition would be useful.

I will post here when the process starts.

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