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The Ethics and Politics of Policing Plagiarism

Table of Contents


 Main Body



Introduction to Rational Theory in Plagiarism

Plagiarism in layman's word is the theft of the facts from the scholarly creations by the original writers. It is defined as the way of taking someone else’s work and ideas and adding them to its own. According to Gasparyan et al., it is the use of someone’s ideas, facts, thoughts, and views into one’s own creation without acknowledging the author or real source. It has been often termed as a form of theft because the credit for the real work is not given and the work of another author is just taken and copied. It generally happens when the source or author is not given proper credit, the situation of ownership in a legal way, or to gain or be benefited by the theft. In academic form, plagiarism also refers to publishing the work of an author with slight change so that it cannot be suspected. The different forms of plagiarism that can be committed by students can be accurate citing of the source, submitting someone’s work as making their production, using quotes but not citing it properly, and a few more. These several forms can be included in the plagiarism that is not acceptable in academic writings. The academic novelty must be maintained. When no correct referencing is required, it can also be included in plagiarism. Overall, plagiarism is in ethically using someone else’s work. It is generally taken as unethical because it benefits the cheater and not the original producer of the work (Vysotska et al., 2018).

Main Body of Rational Theory in Plagiarism

Rational Choice theory is a theory based on choosing something to do based on individual choices. It is also the way through which the individuals make rational choices based on outcomes. The outcomes can be based on their interests and personal benefits (Fleisher, 2017 p2660). This theory helps in assessing the effects of choices that are made to have benefits.

The theory is invested to have the most beneficial outcome and is in the interest of the individual. It also helps in understanding the mindset of the authors who are into copying the original work without letting it be known to others. This also explains that all the writers and authors who are into copying the works do it based on their wishes and desires. The gain is the main motto and this is where the theory works. It decides the gains and the benefits at a personal level (Akçapınar, 2015 p125). According to Li and Sitnikova, the rational theory is based on self-interest and the choices that are made by the individual are also proportional to the result obtained. According to this theory, the choices are made by using the concept of attaining the maximum benefit that may help attain the goals determined by the individual.

Many factors play an important role in making the students choose plagiarism for completing their assignments. The rational theory works here to get benefited by doing less work and getting the desired outcomes. According to Bruton & Childers, (2015), some factors are discussed below:

  • Desiring for good grades in the assessment: The desire for better grades encourages the habit of cheating which can lead to plagiarism. The content that is created is an impressive one but is not original. The desire to get good marks leads to plagiarism.
  • Failing in the class: The plagiarism can also be done in order to get themselves promoted in the next class and in order to fulfil the demands of the assignments provided by the educators. This is great pressure on the students in order to get good grades.
  • Poor management of Time: The concerns of time management also plays an important factor in cheating of the writings. The assignment and the project works need time. When the student is unable to do it before due time, the choice made is the copying of the originals to his content.
  • Assignments that are not interesting: certain assignments that are not interesting enough invite the attention because of plagiarism. The assignments that cannot call for interesting researchers and surveys for many students often tend to be copying and pasting the information. This happens largely in higher education where the students are meant to do research work or thesis for the particular topic of the subject (Bruton & Childers, 2015 p318).

The majority of the students choose to plagiarise to attain the required marks and degrees that help them in their further studies. The results of plagiarism for students can be disastrous. This is a pressure on the students to get accustomed to the norms. It may lead to failure in the class and also can lead to disability to learn skills that tend to affect the university result and the proceeding career options that would be chosen by the student (Gasparyan et al., 2017 p1220). In the research work by Selemani and his colleagues, the group had set a project to investigate the notions acquired by the student regarding plagiarism. The project has a set of questionnaires that were given to undergraduate students from level 1 to level 3. The answered questionnaires were analyzed by the group and the group discovered that there was a hint of uncertainty about several things related to plagiarism. The undergraduates were not clear about the points like collusion and group work with permission. They did it to get the appropriate grades and success in the assignment so that their year does not get wasted (Selemani et al., 2018). It included sources downloading from the internet (Ison, 2015 p160). The rational theory hence relates and explains the reason for the students opting for plagiarism. The theory focuses on the choice of the individual. The choice is done based on one’s good and benefits. The plagiarism issue is quite relevant to the students of universities. They have to come up with the procrastination of the deadline that leads to choosing a shortcut to have their work done. The teachers are somewhere held responsible for such choices. The workload provided by them can be one of the reasons. But not always it is the teachers responsible for the choice, the lack of time management can also lead to taking such decisions. Sometimes the management skill of the student is also tested in this era (Higgins et al., 2016).

According to Uzun & Kilis, (2019), some students choose not to plagiarise because they have an idea about the devastating effects it can probe on the career and the learning areas of the student. The skills that are required to be achieved can only be done if the student tries to learn and accumulate the projects one has been given (Uzun & Kilis, 2019).

Student plagiarism has become a regular practice and is putting major concern in education for higher degrees. A study done by Higgins and his colleagues, states that the load and the competition as well as probe stress on the students to go for plagiarism. The open-ended questions were used in the study that helped in exploring the different views the students had regarding plagiarism. The open-ended questions helped in getting varied answers regarding the enumerated topic. The research works are always beneficial in getting answers from the questions which have assessed numerous outcomes. The students who participated were serious enough with their answers and it showed that it was done out the gain that was to be achieved in academic courses. The participants were consistent and the justifications were also consistent. The answers were easily justifiable by the students for choosing plagiarism. The educators must understand that the rampant practice of plagiarism can probe danger to the education quality and it must be addressed by them to the students by using better and positive examples of avoiding plagiarism (Higgins et al., 2016).

The rational theory states that it is the individual choice to decide for what is to be done based on the benefits that can be achieved. The rational theory can broadly explain the reason for choosing plagiarism. The factors that decide the choice are inevitable and the students can decide according to the requirements (Moss et al., 2017 p277).

In the journal of Mohammed Habali and Fong, it has been assessed that the attempt to plagiarize comes from the results of academic performance. The theory can be used herein to sense that the students to get themselves saved from the negative effect of the academic results, tend to plagiarise. It puts a question mark on the authenticity of the produced work. Another way by which it can be theorized is if the students get the opportunity of doing the copy-paste technique, the rate of plagiarism increases. It becomes beneficial for them (Mohd Habali & Fong, 2016 p730). The choices play an important role in choosing plagiarism in getting benefits. The theory also insists that plagiarism becomes the choice of students because of the immense work laid by the teacher and due to the minimum time provided to them. The theory can well explain and can be illustrated that the students choose the way of plagiarizing the documents to gain the benefit of good grades in their examination (Nimasari et al., 2019 p1920).

Conclusion on Rational Theory in Plagiarism

The above essay containing surveys and researches about plagiarism through rational theory has made clear that the theory is very important in studying the behaviouristic pattern of the students in dealing with plagiarism. Self-benefits help to cope with the time and the competition has led to an increase in the rate of plagiarism. The theory effectively makes it clear that the choice of copying is dependent on the individual to deal with the circumstances. To deal with the situations, students tend to move towards plagiarism. There is the majority who do not take it as a negative aspect to follow the copy-paste policy in their work because they consider it a shortcut to achieve their goals. Therefore it can be concluded that the rational theory can be used to understand the tendency of plagiarism in the majority of the students who are pursuing higher education.

References for Rational Theory in Plagiarism

Akçapınar, G. (2015). How automated feedback through text mining changes plagiaristic behavior in online assignments. Computers & Education, 87, 123–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2015.04.007

‌Bruton, S., & Childers, D. (2015). The ethics and politics of policing plagiarism: a qualitative study of faculty views on student plagiarism and Turnitin®. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(2), 316–330. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1008981

Fleisher, W. (2017). Rational endorsement. Philosophical Studies, 175(10), 2649–2675. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-017-0976-4

‌Gasparyan, A. Y., Nurmashev, B., Seksenbayev, B., Trukhachev, V. I., Kostyukova, E. I., & Kitas, G. D. (2017). Plagiarism in the Context of Education and Evolving Detection Strategies. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 32(8), 1220. https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2017.32.8.1220

Higgins, J. R., Lin, F.-C., & Evans, J. P. (2016). Plagiarism in submitted manuscripts: incidence, characteristics, and optimization of screening—case study in a major specialty medical journal. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-016-0021-8

Ison, D. C. (2015). The Influence of the Internet on Plagiarism Among Doctoral Dissertations: An Empirical Study. Journal of Academic Ethics, 13(2), 151–166. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-015-9233-7

Mohd Habali, A. H., & Fong, L. L. (2016). Plagiarism in Academic Writing Among TESL Postgraduate Students: A Case Study. 7th International Conference on University Learning and Teaching (InCULT 2014) Proceedings, 729–740. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-664-5_57

Moss, S. A., White, B., & Lee, J. (2017). A Systematic Review Into the Psychological Causes and Correlates of Plagiarism. Ethics & Behavior, 28(4), 261–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508422.2017.1341837

‌Nimasari, E. P., Gestanti, R. A., & Mufanti, R. (2019). WHAT UNIVERSITY-STUDENTS BELIEVE ABOUT PLAGIARISM. PEOPLE: International Journal of Social Sciences, 4(3), 1912–1925. https://doi.org/10.20319/pijss.2019.43.19121925

Selemani, A., Chawinga, W. D., & Dube, G. (2018). Why do postgraduate students commit plagiarism? An empirical study. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-018-0029-6

Vysotska, V., Burov, Y., Lytvyn, V., & Demchuk, A. (2018, August 1). Defining Author’s Style for Plagiarism Detection in Academic Environment. IEEE Xplore. https://doi.org/10.1109/DSMP.2018.8478574

‌Uzun, A. M., & Kilis, S. (2019). Investigating antecedents of plagiarism using an extended theory of planned behavior. Computers & Education, 103700. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103700

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