Causes of Student Plagiarism
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Causes of Student Plagiarism

Causes of Student Plagiarism

Intuition of an experienced teacher seldom fails. Reading through a phrase from the student’s assignment, he feels that the ideas there cannot belong to this particular person. Technically, it is possible for a student to create this content, but he knows this John or Mary personally. They would never arrange words into a sentence like that. For sure, a quick Google search or using confirms that the idea is not original at all. Why do students plagiarize? Teachers always ask this question as they want their students to be creative, innovative in giving their ideas, and responsible in using the ideas of other authors. They schedule meetings with those students who disregard the principles of academic integrity, discuss their misconduct, explain how to ensure originality in writing, but still the situation with plagiarism is frustrating. Yes, it is possible to decrease the number of cases when students violate the school rules, but eliminating the problem altogether seems to be absolutely hopeless.

Why Do Students Plagiarize?

Most often plagiarism occurs because students have poor skills of time management or disrespect the rules and standards of school behavior, while others are scared of taking responsibility for their own writing.

Let’s summarize the most common reasons for plagiarism.

1. Lack of writing skills

A student may be too demanding to his own style or ability to present the ideas efficiently. For sure, looking at sophisticated phrases of professional writers, he sees that his own lumpy text is too weak.

This contrast between an expert style and amateur approach is striking and the student may want to copy to get closer to perfection. Copy pasting a passage into the text or replacing some of the words to make it look more original, a student wants to show that he strives for better writing.

What can be teacher’s advice in that case?

The trick is not to copy the passages that look great, but to try to write in your own voice. If one keeps writing, the skills undoubtedly get better. Getting the words of others instead of using one’s own voice is a sign of losing trust in writer’s capabilities.

2. Complicated tasks to do

It is scary to see a daunting assignment and think about the challenges of dealing with it. If the task contains not only a part for reflections, but also a part for presenting some historical background or general description, a student may be tempted to take a canned answer from some website. They think that if they cannot invent anything new, they are allowed to borrow the part from other authors and use it as it is.

Can anything be done in this case?

The teacher can make an emphasis on the analysis and summarization of other sources with reference to the actual sources. Students will definitely be less motivated to cheat if they understand what they should do. More than that, if they are passionate about the topic, they try their best to make their writing authentic.

3. Poor understanding of what plagiarism is

In some cases, students use the words and ideas of others and they do not view it as plagiarism. They define unintentionally all that as making use of nice things in writing. Copying the tables, examples, and answers to the questions, some students merely do not understand that the actual task was not to search for the answer online, but to apply their own creativity, skills, and knowledge. We live in the age of sharing and reposting and it is natural that the students do not perceive the texts available online as something that has its rightful owners.

Is it possible for a teacher to help students avoid the issues?

If the students get explanations of strict guidelines, definite terms, and potential consequences of plagiarizing, they gain an insight into the cause and effect of stealing ideas. Each case of plagiarizing offers different learning opportunities for the students. Disciplinary actions should be obligatory, but competence in writing can be developed only with complete understanding of what plagiarism is.

Unintentional Meaning Accidental

Can it happen that a student plagiarizes the paper because of unawareness? Actually, it can. Without proper knowledge of citing rules, one can get high percentage of copied text in the paper and get surprised, seeing a low grade.

What can be done to avoid accidental plagiarism?

  • proper citing of the sources
  • correct paraphrase of the ideas
  • no self-repetitions

Mistake 1. Wrong citing

Proper attribution to the words of the original author is important as you use the ideas from certain sources. Footnotes, quotation marks, and endnotes are the features of different citation styles. It is a must for a writer to link an idea with the source, thus making his own writing look stronger and more solid.

Mistake 2: Wrong paraphrasing

It is rather complicated to preserve the ideas but do that in a completely different manner from that of an original author. Only with complete understanding of the content, you can be accurate in writing. Even complicated ideas after restructuring should be unique and original, while correct citing will make the text stronger.

Mistake 3: Self-plagiarism

Stating their own opinions and ideas, writers may forget that they have already used them in previous papers. Nevertheless, if the writing was published, using the same ideas again will cause plagiarism. Citing even your own pieces of writing properly is a way to prevent issues with originality.

For sure, human error might be a reason for plagiarizing. It is natural for a person to make mistakes, but all doubts can be cleared out with using plagiarism checkers, such as It is essential to address issues related to plagiarism in all spheres. Students should understand the meaning of plagiarizing, build up confidence in their writing skills, and develop the skill of coping with stress and managing time. Both deliberate plagiarism and accidental use of ideas are failures in writing. We recommend you not to fall victim to them as they both result in sanctions.

Kelsey Ayton
Born in Warsaw. Studied Psychology at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities; took part in several inspiring Erasmus programs.
Former Practical Psychologist| Blogger of Various Mass Media | Currently PlagiarismSearch content writer | Mother-Freelancer
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