Survey suggests web plagiarism remains a huge problem

Nearly half of students admitted to plagiarism in a poll carried out by a students’ newspaper at the University of Cambridge, reports the BBC News–underscoring how hard it is for educational institutions worldwide to clamp down on the problem. The Varsity newspaper reported that students admitted to copying material found on the internet and submitting it as their own. The survey also claimed that only one in 20 students had been caught. The University of Cambridge says it has policies in place to prevent this serious disciplinary offense. But the university also says that "in spite of these provisions, we acknowledge that plagiarism is a significant issue and an increasingly complex one in the new internet era, for all universities to deal with." The survey from the Cambridge newspaper examines what has proved a difficult problem for higher education, particularly with the accessibility of material from the internet and the growth of commercial essay writing services. The online student survey found that 49 percent of respondents had admitted to a range of different types of plagiarism, including handing in someone else’s work, copying and pasting from the internet, buying an essay, or else paying someone else to edit work. Among the concerns from the survey was an overreliance on sources such as the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, with 82 percent of plagiarists admitting to taking material from the web site. Cambridge says it is working with faculty and the students’ union to make sure all students understand that plagiarism is unacceptable. It also uses software to detect plagiarism in submitted work.
But the survey, based on anonymous admissions, shows just how imperfect these methods are in combating the problem…

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