Plagiarism is one of the biggest academic problems faced by the academic world nowadays. Plagiarism is nothing but stealing of other’s ideas without giving credit to them. Current curriculum mostly develops through assignments, project works, term papers etc which requires extensive research work from the student community. Current students are not much interested in spending much time on researching a topic or completing an assignment. Internet provides them shortcuts to complete their assignment without many headaches. There are many internet sites which are offering academic writing services. According to a study conducted by the publisher of Who’s Who among American High school students in 1998, 83% of the students actively engaged in cheating activities or almost everybody does it; 67% had copied someone’s home work. Moreover, another survey conducted by Josephson Institute of Ethics among 20000 middle and high school students in 1998, 70% admitted to cheating on an exam in the previous 12 months (Foss& Lathrop, p.3). This paper briefly explains why plagiarism is a big problem, the reasons and solutions for it.

Why plagiarism is a big problem?

Assignments are intended to develop certain specific skills. It is a way of educating students according to the modern curriculum methods. It encourages people to critically think about problems and solve it by themselves. Ability to solve problems during the academic life will help the students to solve problems in their future professional and personal lives also. When students seek shortcuts for solving problems during their academic life, they will be deprived the opportunity to develop problems solving skills and critical thinking.

Internet and computers have affected the academic world both positively and negatively. One of the positive aspects of internet is that it provides a treasure of knowledge to the students whereas one negative aspect is that internet ruins the future of a student by providing them shortcuts to students. Foss & Lathrop (2000) have mentioned that “thousands of reports and research papers can be downloaded free and thousands more are available for sale from internet paper mills” (Foss & Lathrop, 2000, p.2). In short, plagiarism is a virus spread among the academic world which destroys the academic standards and future lives of the students.

Reasons for plagiarism

“Imagine the aspects of illness doctors concern themselves with; prevention, symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment” (Gilmore, p.5). If plagiarism is a disease, the teacher is the doctor. The teacher should look for the basic reasons for student’s plagiarizing habits just like a doctor searching for the reasons of a disease. Roberts (2007), has mentioned that “lack of research skills and writing skills, problems in evaluating internet sources, confusion about how to cite sources, pressure, poor time management and organizational skills, cultural factors etc are some of the major reasons for the students’ habit of plagiarism” (Roberts, p.2). Most of the academic assignments demand students to prepare it in some particular formats like APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago etc and students may not have proficiency in these formats. Moreover, it is not necessary that a student who is bright in his studies may have lack of writing skills. Written skills and oral skills are different. Time management skills are also different for different students. At the same time better grades are essential for getting a good employment which forces the

Most of the assignments provided by the teachers are complicated ones which need thorough analysis and in depth knowledge. The teachers may not give proper instructions and the methodologies which forces the students to seek help from other sources. Moreover, the valuation of the academic papers is strictly based on certain norms and failure to keep these norms might prevent teachers from giving pass marks to the students. Students, who have doubts in their abilities, will look for alternate options in such cases. Teachers are keeping a soft approach towards plagiarism issue and some teachers are actually advocates of plagiarism which encourage the student community to engage in such activities again and again.  Same questions are used every year by the teachers which encourage the students simply to search the internet with the suitable key words in order to get answers.

Solutions for plagiarism

Rosemarie & Lyn (2009) have mentioned that preventing plagiarism is a critical part of the academic integrity that is expected or even required by educational institutions (Rosemarie & Lyn, 2009, p.2). Only through enforcing stiff penalties plagiarism issue can be countered. The papers submitted by the students must be scanned thoroughly for plagiarism issue and only the genuine papers should be accepted by the authorities. The present methodology of giving the assignment needs thorough revision. The direct questions should be avoided and indirect questions should be used frequently while giving assignments. “Instead of asking students to write about “What were the factors that led up to the French Revolution”, or some other historical event, why not ask them to write about “Why did an equivalent event during the same historical period NOT happen?”(Dealing with Plagiarism Issues, 2005). Students should be educated properly to make them aware of developing academic skills like analyzing, critical thinking etc for their future endeavors.

The curriculum should also be revised thoroughly. The overemphasizing given to the assignments for giving grades to the students should be reduced and they should be given enough time to prepare their assignments. The teacher should opt for class tests lime alternate options more frequently to determine the grades of the students. It is better to give different short topics to different students and ask them to complete those short assignments during their class time itself. The lengthy assignments can be thus divided into small parts and it can be worked out in the class time itself. In short, the amount of take home assignments must be reduced and the number of class assignments should be increased in order to prevent students from cheating.

Conclusions

Plagiarism is a big academic problem which destroys the academic standards and future of the students. Internet and computers encourage students to search for options or shortcuts while preparing their assignments. Short term goals are more prevalent in the present world which encourages plagiarism. Students are giving more importance to their leisure activities than their studies which force them use the shortcuts when they are facing a problem like academic assignments. The volume of the home assignments should be reduced and the number of class assignments should be increased in order to prevent students from plagiarizing their papers. Stiff penalties should be imposed for students who found guilty of plagiarism.

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