Why Plagiarize?

The same Chronicle forum thread from the last two days has reasons why students plagiarize.

Scienceprof said:

I think some students plagiarise because they see it as some obscure academic rule, they will never be relevant to them after college. They have plenty of evidence to support this – IF they read any non-fiction, there are many, many books at the “popular” level on history, science, etc, that either have no sources at all, or the fuzzy “bibliography”, where there is a list of sources but no citations that tell you which information came from which source.

I was surveying science text books recently, and found that of 10 or 12 General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry texts I had in my office, none of the had citations either, and the upper division chemistry texts mostly had bibliographies, not actual citations either.

Can anyone else tell me about texts in your areas?

I am also curious to hear from any journalism professors out there – clearly, there is frequently information in newspapers, newsmagazines, etc., that the author of the piece HAD TO HAVE looked up (technical or historical background, etc.) but newspapers NEVER have references – why?

I think this is part of it.

iomhaigh asked students, who said:

1. every now and again someone decides to take me on, loses, and regrets being brash when sitting in the Dean’s office
2. 3 am panic attack due to procrastination
3. sloppy note-taking
4. fear of failure
5. utter cluelessness
6. assumption that they won’t get caught
7. they’ve been doing it since high school
8. they don’t know how to cite
9. peer pressure (“everybody” cheats… in one class at my old school, one prof failed over 50 people from one section one semester.)
10. other profs don’t care
11. this isn’t my major and I don’t know how to write a paper
12. I never did the reading
13. I don’t know how to do research

realfrancie said:

I believe that the blame can be spread around in fairly equal parts among:
1. Schools, for failing to teach proper research methods and use of internet sources.
2. Students, for falling back on the “everybody does it” excuse.
3. Parents, for promoting the “win-at-all-costs” mentality from an early age. (I disagree here with Anthroid about the exact nature of the parental contribution to the problem.)
4. Colleges, in many places, for not enforcing their own published rules and standards. Really, how many colleges or universities do not have such standards in place?
5. College instructors (warning, flame-worthy statements ahead) who overlook the problem, or who do not take the time to develop plagiarism-resistant assignments, or who do not take time to educate their students about plagiarism.

to which voxprincipalis added:

6. The perception that plagiarism is a “victimless crime”

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