Intellectual property in academics
Lameya Alma Amin

Why many local students resort to making cheating a habit and what can be done to avoid it

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When you are in that stage of your life where you are only expected to study and work hard, it’s the least you can do. People fail to understand, but this is the best time of their lives, where most of them are only required and expected to do so. Yet we come across people who love to slack off, cheating their way through completing the task at hand - assignments.

Most students prefer to cheat. Why? Nobody knows for sure, but probably the most apparent reason is simply being lazy. It is a universal fact that studying needs a minimum level of patience, hard work, and a big bowl of motivation, and sadly this lacks in a lot of cases.

Surprisingly, a huge number of people in our educational sector don’t know what plagiarism is. They do not understand the concept of it, and ends up doing it, failing to realise that their actions are objectionable and punishable. Most students think that whatever is present there in the Internet can be used freely and as one wishes, without giving any proper credit to the party who is responsible for the information in the first place.

When asked, a fellow university student studying English Literature the reasons for indulging in plagiarism, Rifat Rabib said, “First of all, we were never informed about plagiarism back in school and, were not taught how to cite to avoid it. Here in NSU, we were taught how to do so, and yet we sometimes end up not citing everything properly because it takes a huge amount of time to do the documentation. And not a lot of us want to spend so much time doing so, and also with the hope that the teachers might not notice it.” This shows the grim scenario, that students lack the patience and ethics to work on something to avoid cheating, and these acts go unnoticed, giving the student another chance to repeat the same offence.

Not going through the citation process while preparing a paper gives them the opportunity to disrespect the individual whose ideas or information they are using, without giving the individual proper recognition for his/her work

“I try my best to educate students about the rules of plagiarism early on in the semester. I tell them that they cannot ever quote or paraphrase from any source without giving proper credit to that source, and that they cannot submit a paper for my class that they have submitted for another class. However the message often doesn’t quite get through. When I catch minor cases of plagiarism, such as not using inverted commas for quotes, I give my students a chance to fix the error. When I catch more serious crimes, such as submitting a paper they clearly did not write, I immediately give them a failing grade. There are no second chances in those cases,” said Joshua Yu Burnett, an assistant Professor in North South University, when asked about how he tries to inform his students here, and the penalties they face in his class if they plagiarise.

He further noted that, “Compared to universities in the United States, the response to plagiarism here does not seem very systematic. I was required to go over the Department’s plagiarism policy in the first two weeks of class, and all the students were required to sign a document saying they understood what plagiarism was and agreed not to do it. I had to report any case of plagiarism to my Department’s Director of Graduate Studies – there was paperwork to fill out. The penalties were very clear: for the first offence, the student received a failing grade for theplagiarised paper. For the second offence, the student was referred to a disciplinary committee with the power to impose more serious penalties, up to and including expulsion from the university. Here, such systems do not seem to be in place. I do think it would be helpful to approach plagiarism in a more standardised and systematic fashion. Not just for punishing students but for educating them about what plagiarism is, why it is wrong, and what the consequences are. One major cause of plagiarism here is that students simply do not understand what plagiarism is, and they do it without even realising that what they are doing is unacceptable.”

Students are educated so that this learning process enlightens them, makes them better citizens, and to give them the ability to do something with their lives as well as for others. But not going through the citation process while preparing a paper gives them the opportunity to disrespect the individual whose ideas or information they are using, without giving the individual proper recognition for his/her work.

It is of the utmost importance to educate oneself, to build up the motivation to work hard, in a truthful manner and with integrity. 

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