Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Understanding plagiarism by non-Western students

Undergraduate students from Western countries commit plagiarism. This has led to highly effective commercial software to detect it such as Turnitin.

Recently I have encountered several incidents of plagiarism from postgraduate students from non-Western countries. It is easy to be shocked and morally indignant about this, until one learns some of the cultural background and common educational practices in some countries. The following is helpful:
T. A. Abinandanan, an engineer at the Indian Institute of Science, says that the practice of duplicating information is deeply ingrained in Indian education. “Right from school our students are encouraged to take material from books and websites and use it in their charts and lab notebooks. In written answers, verbatim reproduction from textbooks is even rewarded with higher marks,” he told Nature. “Thus, when students start doing research, they have so much of this attitude to unlearn. This unfortunate case provides us yet another opportunity to redouble our efforts in training our students.”
This is taken from a News item that appeared in Nature earlier this year.

A key to stopping is this is education, central documentation of incidents, and strictly enforced penalties that increase substantially for repeat offenders.

1 comment:

  1. What about plagiarism in published papers? What is an appropriate consequence for a senior professor who is second author on a heavily plagiarised paper with a PhD student?