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Chapter I The Problem and its Background
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Significance of the Study
1.4 Scope and Delimitation
1.5.1. Research Design
1.5.2. Participant and Setting
1.5.3. Research Instrument
Chapter II Review of Related Literature
2.2. The Concept of Plagiarism
2.3. The Causes of Plagiarism
2.3.1. I am Not Aware
2.3.2. Personal Attitude
2.3.3. Finding the Voice
2.3.4. The Internet Is the Easy Way
2.3.5. Plagiarism from a Different Perspective
2.4 Areas of Considerable Concern
2.4.2. The Level of the Student
2.4.3. Common Knowledge
2.5. Things Done to Reduce Academic Dishonesty
2.5.1 Patch Writing
2.5.2. Software Detection Services
2.5.3. Experiential Learning
2.5.4. Awareness Raising
2.5.5. Policies Against Plagiarism
Chapter III Results and Discussion
3.2. Results from the Questionnaire
3.3. Results from Interviews
The Existence of the Problem Among EFL Learners
Ways Used by the Teachers to Deal with the Plagiarized Students
3.4. Conclusion and Recommendations
3.5. Researcher Recommendations
As a university student, one has to submit term papers and to conduct researches during the years of his/her study. It is not an easy task to do, especially, if learners are not trained to be so from the early stages of their study. In Libya, the education system aims at providing learners the opportunity to be researchers and discover their own voice. Therefore, students should be encouraged and trained to write the answers for the examinations in their own words. Such actions are considered as the first seed of creativity being planted to have students get their own voice. Taking into account such aim will make students of English department in the Faculty of Education be more aware of their abilities and keep them away from plagiarism.
Academic plagiarism is not newly born, but in the last years, it has been observed to take place in the Education Faculty among the students of English department. An infective disease spreads rapidly throughout the educational body need to be uprooted from the academic environment. Therefore, in this paper, the present writer will highlight the ignored problem and dip in it addressing the why and how questions to shed a light and search for an immediate cure on the reasons lie behind this problem. This problem faces the majority of the foreign leaners who are not aware of what is called the Academic Dishonesty (Carroll and Zetterling, 2009:15).
The major purpose of this study is to discover the reasons of academic dishonesty that takes places among EFL learners in the Education Faculty from the perspective of the students and teachers and to provide a reliable solution to detect this phenomenon. This study seeks to find answers to the following questions:
1. What are the students and teachers' perceptions of the causes of academic plagiarism?
2. What are the things that can be done to detect plagiarism?
Academic plagiarism deserves more attention in Libya, especially, at tertiary level because the number of students plagiarizing is in increase. Serious actions need to be taken to prevent it, or otherwise soon the teachers, supervisors and even college will face many difficulties to stop it. This study gains its importance as it will deal with this problem and it will be of great help to:
Students: it would raise their awareness of academic plagiarism and broaden their knowledge about it. It would also provide them with some strategies and reliable solutions to be in the safe side and detect plagiarism. In addition, the findings of this research will help the upcoming generations to be successful researchers and to ease the road for them to find their own voice.
Teachers: it would help teachers to understand more why their students are plagiarizing and how to deal with the problem in an educated way. It would enrich the teachers' knowledge by providing them with useful suggestions in order to raise their students' awareness of academic dishonesty.
College/University: it would help it to set new effective policies, which contribute in detecting academic plagiarism.
This research is conducted in the Faculty of Education at Misrata University among English department students only by the time 2016. Not all students and teachers of English department have participated in this study. The study includes 80 students and 7 teachers randomly selected to provide the needed information for the purpose of the paper.
In attempt to investigate the perceptions of both students and teachers of what they see as causes of academic plagiarism and how to avoid it, the researcher utilized both qualitative and quantative data collection techniques, questionnaire and interview.
Eighty students and seven teachers of English Department from the Faculty of Education were randomly selected as participants in this study. For students, seven males and seventy-three females enrolled in the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th semesters.
The apparatus in this study are mainly based on a questionnaire distributed to the students. The questionnaire consists of a number of causes that were repeated in several studies conducted in different places in the world, in addition to the causes that the researcher is suspicious about, are provided and the participant has to decide whether it is a cause of plagiarism or not. One has to tick a choice: Yes – No – Not sure.
The other instrument used for data collection is semi-structured interview. It includes 16 questions, in addition, to follow-up questions. The nature of the relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee is student and teacher respectively. The interviews are recorded and all required permissions are taken from the participants.
The researcher secures all the required permission from concerned authorities in the conduct of the study. With the approval, short oral instructions will be given to student-participants on how to complete the questionnaires with an explanation of certain concepts. Once the respondents complete the questionnaires, the researcher collects them and start the analysis using Minitab programme as a statistical tool.
Each teacher signed on a consent form that has been given in advance then they agreed with the researcher upon a mutual time and location for the interview. The interviews were carried out informally with participants expressing their views comfortably during the whole process of the interview. The interviews lasted between 20 to 30 minutes. They were digitally recorded and then transcribed for analysis after being read for several times (See appendix D).
The participants were informed about their anonymity, confidentiality and right to withdraw from the participation. In addition, they were informed that their answers would be used for research purposes only.
For the purpose of the present study, quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed independently using different analytical techniques. First, the results of the questionnaire were entered and calculated using Minitab programme to identify students' perceptions of what they view as causes of academic dishonesty. This equation shows how the percentage is conducted. Secondly, the interviews were transcribed and read several times by the researcher to evaluate the qualitative data. This means the respondents of the interviews were analysed by interpretations in addition to the analysis done using percentage tool. The formula according to which the data has been analyzed is part/total × 100 = percentage.
It is unquestionable that plagiarism is a worldwide issue that faces all institutions, especially, colleges and universities. You may think at the first glance that this problem does not exist in Libya because no or little attention has been paid to it. To pretend to be inattentive is not a solution, but it adds insult to injury. As Garder (1999: 1) said, "you have to treat the issue of plagiarism seriously and avoid it".
Many of the authors and educational institutions in different places in the world have defined plagiarism, but various definitions of academic dishonesty have been criticized in the west as being unclear, non-uniformed, and unrealistic. In addition, those definitions do not take into account the plagiarist intentions (Howard, 2000: 2).
"Using the ideas or words of another person without giving appropriate credit" (Myers, 1999: 82; Hu, 2001: 52). This definition is the most shared by authors and used in different articles, newspapers, magazines, previous studies and universities. While Martin (1984: 183) defined plagiarism as "the taking and using as one's own of the thoughts, writings, or inventions of another". The two previous definitions carry the main idea of plagiarism, but this idea is incomplete and more general. The concept is better to be defined by clarifying what is it and how to avoid it, as well.
From here, the present researcher can say that, to plagiarize is to use the work, ideas and words of someone else without attribution. It may involve using someone else wording without using quotation marks or providing the page number(s), author's name and the year of publication, as well.
Maxwell et al. (2008: 27-30) conducted a study that discusses the perceived seriousness and understanding plagiarism by local and Asian international students in Australia reported that, 83% of Australians and 82% of Asians were engaged in some forms of plagiarism at least once, but the frequency of it was higher in the Australian sample than Asian sample. With such shocking results, serious actions should be taken to detect plagiarism before it becomes out of control and to gain a better understanding of the causes lead and motivate the students to plagiarize and the continuation of doing so. Many studies in different places in the world were conducted to investigate those reasons. Some of those reasons were shared and some were related to specific areas.
The most common cause that is reported in a large number of studies was students lack of or incomplete knowledge of what is called academic dishonesty. Evans and Youmans (2000:50) conclude that the main reason why students are plagiarizing is that they are not aware that they are doing so. Here, the researcher can see that both Evans and Youmans (cf) are trying to say that students are unintentionally plagiarizing, but this is not always the case. The concept is not the only thing that the students do not know. Martin (1984: 186) finds out that many students are incompetent of the necessity to give credit for ideas and passages paraphrased or quoted. Here, many questions have raised: Are students entirely to be blamed? What is the role of the teacher and the educational institution in this case? Who is responsible of letting the students know about the concept, the consequences, and knowing how to avoid it? Drum (1986:242) states that many students do not know how to avoid plagiarism and they do not know how to integrate source material into text. Wilhoit (1994:33) cited in Maxwell et al. (2008:35) maintain that students are not aware of how to avoid plagiarism by providing them the correct writing skills at university, and as a result, they continue to plagiarize. It seems to be an evidence that the students are not the only ones who are to be blamed and that the teachers, the universities and the supporters of educational system are part of the crime.
Not being aware of the seriousness of the problem is another problem. Since it is in a sharp continuous increase Maxwell et al. (2008:31) discovered the relationship between the rates of seriousness and the rates of plagiarism, asking the participants in his study by giving them a scale from one to three to rate how serious they think the problem of plagiarism is. "With rates of plagiarism increasing as perceived seriousness decreases"(ibid).
Students are sometimes aware of what academic dishonesty is and what its consequences is, but they still crossing the red line ignoring the conventions due to causes relate to the students themselves. Leaving the work as the last moment due to poor time management skills, inability to cope with workload and lack of motivation for the work they are doing is another reason that leads those students to commit the intellectual theft (Evans and Youmans, 2000: 50; Forgas and Negre, 2010: 222). Being careless can cause you a lot as a student. You can be dismissed and your reputation will be in the line. What we can say is that a little care matters. In addition, an important factor that has the power to influence and shape the student's attitude is the external pressure. This pressure can be either from the parents on their children wanting them to achieve high grades or trying to satisfy their demanding teachers and to meet their expectations and beat their classmates (Sherman, 1992:195). Having this pressure in their educational life, the students may not be able to handle it and what they do, is simply they become very desperate and choose the easy way to cut and paste from others' sources without giving appropriate credit when the credit is needed. Relatively, Hyland (2001: 380) explains:
Many ESL students plagiarism was an act of desperation. After they mentally compare their texts with target expert text, they may feel so overwhelmed by the distance between what they are expected to achieve and what they feel capable of doing; that plagiarism seems the most realistic strategy.
What is meant by voice here is the ability to write using one's own words. Appropriate style and voice is always problematic, especially, when it is unpractised and undeveloped. In a place like Libya, the students are not accustomed to write academically until they reach the tertiary level. Moreover, the educational system does not support or encourage the students to discover their own voice. It is based more likely on memorization and the majority of the teachers become slaves as it has mentioned earlier to this helpless programme. Finding one's own voice does not happen in a day and night; rather, it is a gradual process built through the years of one's education journey.
"Much of the plagiarism in term papers resulted from desperation of the writers who are uncertain of their abilities, of appropriateness of their authorial voices" (Wells, 1993: 61; Abasi et al., 2006: 112; Lankamp, 2009:1).
The technological development as computers and the internet help the students and teachers, as well; but this is not always the case. The students are using this technology as a tool facilitating the process of plagiarism and Zulle et al. (2005:126) stress that the use of computer makes plagiarism easier than before. Zulle (cf) is not the only one who talks about the internet use as an instrument used by the students to commit their crime, people like Kodikara and Kumara (2015:66) comment on the situation saying, "Digital practices divert people to plagiarize".
Wong (2004:5) notes that in a survey of 30000 undergraduates at 34 colleges, 37% admitted committing cut and paste plagiarism using the internet. This survey is 12 years ago and the number of the students who are using internet sites that sells ready papers for them is in increase. Groarke, Oblinger and Choa (2001:45) reported that internet paper mill sites receive in the excess 2.6 million hints per month and that Cheater.com has a membership of 72.000 which continues to grow by a few hundred each day and that Schoolsucks.com and Evil House of Cheat pages boast 10.000 and 4.000 hints per day respectively. The numbers are terrifying and it is in a daily increase. This will continue to grow further and will be out of control since there is no serious actions been taken to stop this scenario; therefore, such the mentioned pages and others are still laughing at the students and stealing money from their pockets, claiming that they are helping the needy students. Instead of showing the students how to write academically and solve their problem, they provide them ready published works. Filling their own pockets with money is truly, what they do. "Do not give me a fish, but teach me how to catch it".
How people look at plagiarism is not always the same. Some like Xueqin (2002: 3-4) argues that plagiarism is not always bad and there is unseen good side from it, saying, "It is useful to bring new ideas to a country where a particular discipline is undeveloped". Duguid (1996: 8) adds that it saves time and effort and improves results. It helps to spread knowledge and information and it is considered an important part of the cultural heritage. Some students claimed that copying would facilitate their learning. Therefore, they believe that plagiarizing others' works will force them to understand the meaning of these works and finally help them learn target language, cited in Liao and Tseng (2010:191) by Daniel, Blount, & Ferrell (1991); Lim & See (2001). These seem to be insensible excuses to justify their wrong doings, trying to convince themselves before convincing the whole world that plagiarism is not harmful and it is acceptable, which, in fact, is not.
The following factors have been demonstrated in different studies that it has a great influence and the power in shaping students perception of the phenomena.
The culture role is vital in constructing and building our beliefs and habits in life and one of these concepts is plagiarism. To copy the words and the speeches of well-respected authors, leaders, public figures and personalities without referring back to the source, is lawful, acceptable and shows respect to the original author according to Italian and Chinese students (Hyland 2001:375; Xuepin 2002:2; Liao and Tseng 2010:190). Thompson and Williams (1995:27-28) pointed out that Asian students are copying to show intelligence, good judgments and they are having sufficient knowledge. For Japanese, students Teeter (2015:105) discussed that they are aware of the nature of plagiarism, but the educational and social influences lead people to plagiarize.
The educational system is part of the culture and it is built and designed to suit it. Hazlitt (1988:17) observed that the students in Korea are encouraged to imitate rather than create and the Japanese students are taught group solidarity and collaboration, while Mexican students are motivated to share the homework and answers. These mentioned values are shared and seems similar to the Libyan situation and they are not hard to see how being raised in such environment, culture and educational system that may impede an easy transition to acceptance of western anti-plagiarism values. In such cultures, unintentional plagiarism is activated due to immature summary skills, inappropriate paraphrasing or insufficient knowledge of appropriate referencing. Not being armed by these academic skills, hinder the way of producing acceptable academic work. Newbury (2010: 12) argues that:
Cultural differences are a contributing factor that can lead to unintentional plagiarism by ESL/EFL students, but should not be taken as an excuse or justification for deliberate and intentional acts of academic dishonesty. Cultural difference do attribute to a lack of understanding of the concept of individualism and ownership of words and ideas that is unique to western culture.
Talking about the level of the students, this means to discuss the level of awareness about the plagiarism issue and college level of them. A number of studies revealed that the level of the students is a major factor influencing their understanding of the phenomena. Ledesma (2011:31) investigates academic dishonesty among undergraduate students in a Korean uni-versity, he finds out that junior and senior students are more likely than freshmen and sopho-mores to engage an illicit academic behaviour. The results of the study may vary from one area to another and from university to another and this leads us to question whether the college level has a real influence or not. While Maxwell et al. (2008:30) discovers the relation between the levels of awareness and the rate of plagiarism stressing that the rate of plagiarism increases as the level of understanding decreases.
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