The Problem of Internet Plagiarism
In November 2001, CNN reported a case of alleged rampant plagiarism at the University of Virginia involving 72 cases and 148 students. What happened at the University of Virginia is only one of many cases of plagiarism faced everyday all over the world. Plagiarism itself is not a new problem, but the Internet has made a difficult situation even more complex. According to Ryan:
Plagiarized work used to be generated through frat house recycling efforts, purchased from local ghost writers, or simply copied from campus library reference materials, all clumsy efforts readily detectable by educators familiar with their course material. But the World Wide Web and other resources have changed the game and left educators scrambling to keep abreast of plagiarists' new methods.
The problem of online plagiarism is the focus of this term paper. While this form of plagiarism is a problem at all levels of education, this paper will concentrate on the University level.
The definition of plagiarizes as defined by Webster=s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary is as follows, Ato take and pass off as one=s own (the ideas, writings, etc. of another)@ (p.1371). This is a broad definition that addresses the overall concept of plagiarism but does not focus specifically on the electronic aspect. Lothrop and Foss specifically describe electronic plagiarism. They call it Acyber plagiarism,@ and say it is, Athe new term for student copying from the many online Web sites, or paper mills, which offer thousands of reports and term papers on almost any topic@ (p.18).
So how extensive is the problem of electronic plagiarism on college campuses today? According to Ryan, exact numbers are hard to establish due to the fact there haven=t been extensive studies on electronic plagiarism. However educators are suggesting that it is a problem on campuses today. As Lathrop and Foss state, AWe know students are cheating more often today; their cheating techniques are increasingly sophisticated, and many express guilt or remorse only if they care caught@ (p.1). Significant research has been conducted on campus cheating in general. During the 1990's Donald L. McCabe conducted five research projects. His results showed:
*On most campuses, over 75% of students admit to some cheating. In surveys conducted
in 1990, 1992, and 1995 involving almost 7,000 students on 26 small-to-medium-sized
campuses, almost 80% of undergraduate student respondents reported one or more
incidents of cheating.
*Academic honor codes effectively reduce cheating. In surveys conducted in 1990 and
1995 of over 5,000 students on 14 small-to-medium-sized campuses that have strong
academic honor codes, 57% of undergraduate student respondents reported one or
more incidents of cheating. Giving students significant voice and responsibility in
issues of academic integrity appears to significantly reduce cheating.
*Cheating is higher among fraternity and...