Why Do Students Plagiarize: Accidental and Deliberate Reasons

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16 Sep 2021

Plagiarism can sometimes be a very disheartening thing that teachers in the academic world can encounter. Most educators do their best to adapt the presented material and make it lifelike to students. They always focus on problem-solving tasks trying to evoke critical thinking in their students.

When a student decides to plagiarise, he or she rejects learning at its core and refuses to develop effective argumentation despite the teacher’s effort. So why do students plagiarise then?

The causes of plagiarism can be classified into two main groups: deliberate plagiarism and accidental plagiarism. Let’s see the differences between the two, why they happen, and how to prevent both.

4 Most Common Reasons Of Student Plagiarism

Reasons Of Student Plagiarism

The reasons for student plagiarism can be numerous. If you wish to find the answer to the question “Why do people plagiarize?”, then the most common reason would be laziness. In addition, sometimes undergraduates find it easier to copy other authors’ works due to lack of personal knowledge in the subject or uncertainty about how citations are used.  Besides, there are cases people plagiarize just due to pure sloppiness.

Below you’ll find some other reasons that lead students to resort to copying.

Stress Caused By Overwhelming Workloads

With the volumes of workloads increasing as the years at university progress, undergraduates tend to feel like they’re backed into a corner. Such high-pressure situations may easily lead to stress and anxiety, and students find it hard to get out of them.

Lack of good organization leads to less time set aside for doing a university project. At this point, students start thinking about plagiarism. It looks like a solution that will save them time and help them complete the project despite the deadline getting close.

When panic kicks in, students can’t think straight, and teachers should try to prevent this by giving smaller tasks to first-year students who still don’t know their way around academic life.

Lack of Confidence and Experience

Even among predominantly successful students, some lack of confidence can occur when they are supposed to share their opinions and ideas. Also, it may seem unclear how to properly cite other authors’ words. Besides, particular jargon used among other writers and specific terminology might be confusing for perception and analysis.

Trying to use such complex words in academic papers can cause confusion, and students may start thinking that they’re not educated enough. Once this happens, most individuals will resort to some forms of deliberate plagiarism and try to paraphrase something they don’t even understand.

In such cases, it’s important for teachers to explain how to find reliable sources, show examples and practice the skill with the group. The matter is that usually good research requires a lot of literature and other academic sources to be evaluated; and usually the first source found may be not that perfect as it may seem. It’s okay to get confused in writing an academic paper, and it’s okay not to know everything.

If the first source seems too confusing, a student should extend his research and look for other sources that appear to be written in more mundane terms. This will not mean that the student lacks vocabulary or isn’t ready for the task.

The whole process of education is about learning, and we learn as we go. Take it one step at a time.

Collaborative Learning

Another reason why a student plagiarizes is working in groups and achieving shared learning goals. When a student gets used to collaborative learning methods at school, it can sometimes be difficult for them to distinguish their own ideas and other people’s thoughts. Being with family members and learning with them can lead to collaborative thinking.

If a student can’t tell when a particular idea is purely someone else’s, plagiarism kicks in. Wrongly cited thoughts of other thinkers become a part of the student’s paper, and we arrive at an instance of accidental plagiarism.

That’s why it’s crucial to talk about possible grey areas with all students when it comes to distinguishing your thoughts and ideas from other people’s ones. Talking about proper citing and the importance of citations in academic papers can also help.

Sloppiness and Inattentiveness

Writing down a lecture material after a professor can have some signs of sloppiness even if a professional writer performs it. Sloppy note-taking leads to confusion about what was actually taken and copied from a source and the original idea coming from the writer.

The confusion doesn’t only take place on paper but in the writer’s head as well. Academic papers are usually very lengthy, and students have to turn to numerous books and articles on the internet to complete them.

The longer the paper, the greater the research. The greater the research, the more note-taking. The more note-taking, the more opportunities for confusion and sloppiness. A person doesn’t have to be sloppy to take sloppy notes.

Sloppiness simply happens when a student has to deal with too much information. You can avoid this type of inattentiveness in writing with thorough organization for detailed note-taking. To include citations in the very draft of the project is also a good way not to get lost in the whole process.

It’s better to cite sentences along the way as the creation of the paper moves forward than to finish the paper, get lost in your confusion, and become incapable of citing anything. To avoid this type of confusion and later on plagiarism, a teacher or professor should illustrate the process of performing each part of a paper draft and explain why it is crucial.

Prominent Cases Where Accidental Plagiarism Happens

Student plagiarism can indeed be accidental, and it usually happens for two main reasons.

A student is unaware that he or she has committed an act of plagiarism

A student who is not well informed about plagiarism may think that he or she needs citations only when placing a particular direct quotation in his essay/article. But the information that is included in the academic text coming from a paraphrase of an existing text also needs citations.

This type of plagiarism in education happens by accident because students are unaware that ideas can be plagiarized, even though the precise language is being used. If we’re dealing with a student in his first years of academic schooling, this accidental plagiarism can happen very often.

Improper Note-taking and wrong Research

Taking notes improperly can sometimes lead to a lot of confusion. When a student reads dozens of articles and books to write a paper, he or she can get lost in the whole research process. What often happens here is that the student doesn’t know which information came from which book.

Copying quotations without citations also frequently occurs in this type of research, so that improper paraphrasing doesn’t differ much from the original phrase.

Deliberate plagiarism: Its Definition and Main Reasons

There are five most common reasons which can place students and plagiarism in the same room.

Lack of interest in a subject

Even if a teacher does everything right, a student can simply lack interest in that teacher’s subject. Having not enough motivation to research a topic for completing papers thoroughly, a student usually turns to plagiarism to avoid in-depth learning and engagement.

Demanding schedule

When a schedule at a particular university becomes too demanding, a student can become desperate. Every task has a new deadline, and plagiarism starts looking like an easy way to create shortcuts through all daunting tasks.

Belief that plagiarism will remain unnoticed

As teachers have to read lots of papers from every group member in the class, a student can assume that they won’t notice that some parts of the text are copied. Unaware that some teachers use special software to check plagiarism, students resort to this type of deliberate plagiarism.

Desire to get high grades

Ambitious individuals want to get the best scores and keep all their grades high. This may be due to fear of disappointing a parent, pure competitiveness, or simply because of their mindset. Academic tasks are usually big in volumes, and competitive students who are unable to finish everything perfectly on time resort to deliberate plagiarism.

Delight of breaking the rules

This type of behavior, when a student wants to use plagiarism just for the thrill of it, happens rarely. But still, some individuals see rules as constraints that they should break.

How many students plagiarise?

The Center of Academic Integrity stated that about 80% of all college students have been cheating at least once during their educational career, while according to a survey prepared by Psychological Record, 36% of undergraduates asked have experience in plagiarizing their writing tasks.

Useful Tips to Reduce Plagiarism in Academic Papers

Both deliberate and accidental, plagiarism articles are present in numerous schools and universities. Understanding why students plagiarize can help teachers try to reduce it. Even if a teacher can’t understand the prior reasons, some measures can be taken to reduce it.

  • Learn where and how to adequately place citations and how to format them correctly. It will help undergraduates always remember to cite both paraphrases and quotes.
  • Provide thorough research for every topic and learn how to do it correctly. Combine different types of sources and include alternative opinions on the topic. When a source comes with a reference, it will be evident that it’s not copied.
  • Embrace academic honesty and learn how to be responsible for your activities from college years; it will surely influence your success in future career and personal life.

Teachers can affect how papers are written as well. Instead of asking students to turn in a paper at the end of the semester without monitoring it, a teacher can ask students to turn in drafts from time to time.

These “chek-ups” will enable the teacher to correct mistakes on the spot and much earlier before the paper is due. Plagiarism and citations done improperly can be avoided and altered as soon as the student starts writing.

Besides these three main points and steps to take in class to reduce plagiarism at its core, teachers can do a couple of other things as well. Such pieces of advice for plagiarism reduction are effective if they are achieved before a student starts writing academic papers.

A teacher also must be aware that even if all the prevention of plagiarism steps mentioned above are taken, some students will still turn to plagiarism. In that case, a plagiarism checker may come in handy. Sometimes when a teacher tells a group about an intention to use a tool may help in preventing them from plagiarising.

It’s time to take action! What can I do about plagiarism?

As a person who came here to read all about plagiarism and why it usually happens, you may be wondering what actions you can take and what you can do about it. And actually, you can do a lot to prevent academic plagiarism starting even today.

With Online Plagiarism Checker, you can check whether a text is full of originality by simply copying and pasting your text to the webpage. That is absolutely free of charge,and you don’t need to upload any type of software to your PC. Be sure that such a tool will successfully identify any potential risks, so you are absolutely protected from university bans and any inconveniences they may cause.

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