Incidence Of Plagiarism In Higher Education Pakistan English Language Essay

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Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Overview of the Application Area

Plagiarism is a common and regularly occurring phenomenon in education circles almost all over the world. Education levels ranging from Elementary School until Post Graduation fall victim to, or indulge in, Plagiarism at one point or another. In Pakistan, plagiarism is assumedly common and occurs at an alarming rate, despite checks and balances imposed by universities and schools. The degree of checks and balances are also questionable, as perhaps only a handful of institutions have properly implemented a system to monitor this phenomenon. In our education circle, plagiarism in effect, goes largely unchecked and this affects the academic integrity of most students and institutions, though they do not realize it.

1.2 Relevance of the Topic and Research Title

The topic of this thesis is 'Awareness and Incidence of Plagiarism in the Higher Education Sector of Pakistan'. By Higher Education Sector I mean the Undergraduate and Graduate levels in universities. This thesis will aim to measure the level of awareness and occurrence of plagiarism in the college course work of Undergraduation and Graduation. It's relevance is such that, it serves to be a foundation for any future in depth studies on plagiarism, and for now, targets only how much students are even knowledgeable about the consequences of plagiarism and how much they indulge in this act. In addition, this research aims to isolate the core independent variables that result in plagiarism. In education circles in Pakistan, there is a lack of any study that has investigated this concept in detail, and for a start, a basic research this, serves the purpose to gauge the incidence of plagiarism in university levels.

1.3 Background Information and Evolution

Plagiarism is defined as "the wrongful appropriation, close imitation, or purloining and publication, of another author's language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions, and the representation of them as one's own original work". The history of plagiarism goes back into the 1600's, where the use of the word was made popular by the dramatist Ben Jonson, who described, plagiary as literary theft. The pioneer of this word was Martial, a Roman poet, who accused another poet of kidnapping his verses.The origins of this word is in Latin 'plagiarius' which means 'kidnapper', which is where the Roman poet, Marital, first used it in this context. The evolution of the Latin word ' Plagiarus' was incorporated into the English language in 1620. 'The Latin plagiārius, "kidnapper", and plagium, "kidnapping", has the root plaga ("snare", "net"), based on the Indo-European root *-plak, "to weave" (seen for instance in Greek plekein, Bulgarian "плета" pleta, Latin plectere, all meaning "to weave").'

'The rhetoric of plagiarism is nothing if not colourful. Some writers describe plagiarism

in moralistic tones, for example as 'the unoriginal sin' (Colon, 2001), 'sin…against

originality' (Anonymous, 1997) and 'a writer's worst sin' (Miller, 1993). It has also been

criticised as 'an attack on… nothing less than a basic human right, to property, to

identity' (Freedman, 1994) and a 'cancer that erodes the rich legacy of scholarship'

(Zangrando, 1991/2). Some writers prefer more legalistic language. The US Office of

Research Integrity (ORI), for example, views plagiarism as 'the theft or misappropriation

of intellectual property (Anonymous, 1995).'

'The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal, emerged in Europe only in the 18th century. For centuries before, not only literature was considered "publica materies," a common property from which anybody could borrow at will, but the encouragement for authors and artists was actually to "copy the masters as closely as possible," for which the closer the copy the finer was considered the work. This was the same in literature, music, painting and sculpture. In some cases, for a writer to invent his own plots was reproached as presumptuous. This stood at the time of Shakespeare too, when it was common to appreciate more the similarity with an admired classical work, and the ideal was to avoid "unnecessary invention."'

'The modern ideals for originality and against plagiarism appeared in the 18th century, in the context of the economic and political history of the book trade, which will be exemplary and influential for the subsequent broader introduction of capitalism. Originality, that traditionally had been deemed as impossible, was turned into an obligation by the emerging ideology of individualism. In 1755 the word made it into Johnson's influential A Dictionary of the English Language, where he was cited in the entry for copier ("One that imitates; a plagiary; an imitator. Without invention a painter is but a copier, and a poet but a plagiary of others."), and in its own entry denoting both A thief in literature ("one who steals the thoughts or writings of another") and The crime of literary theft.'

'Despite the 18th century new morals, and their current enforcement in the ethical codes of academia and journalism, the arts, by contrast, have resisted in their long-established tradition of copying as a fundamental practice of the creative process, and in the 21st century plagiarism is still tolerated by artists.'

Although from the legal aspect, Plagiarism is not a crime and hence, not punishable by law. It is however, recognized as a theft of intellectual property, but not prosecutable by law.

'Plagiarism is not the same as copyright infringement. While both terms may apply to a particular act, they are different concepts. Copyright infringement is a violation of the rights of a copyright holder, when material protected by copyright is used without consent. On the other hand, the moral concept of plagiarism is concerned with the unearned increment to the plagiarizing author's reputation that is achieved through false claims of authorship.'

Plagiarism has evolved through the ages from a mere handwritten copy from other limited works to spanning infinite sources on the internet. Internet plagiarism has taken a hold quite firmly, and has, in the process, made it difficult to catch the perpetrator of this offence. The internet has boundless information on it, and most of it is not even credit to the peoper authors. Most students find a great ease of accessibility by using the internet as a medium to plagiarize and submit others work under their own name.

'Free online tools are becoming available to help identify plagiarism, and there is a range of approaches that attempt to limit online copying, such as disabling right clicking and placing warning banners regarding copyrights on web pages. Instances of plagiarism that involve copyright violation may be addressed by the rightful content owners sending a DMCA removal notice to the offending site-owner, or to the ISP that is hosting the offending site.

Plagiarism is not only the mere copying of text, but also the presentation of another's ideas as one's own, regardless of the specific words or constructs used to express that idea. In contrast, many so-called plagiarism detection services can only detect blatant word-for-word copies of text.'

Another form of the evolution of plagiarism is the form of 'self-plagiarism' in which a person cites his or her own work without acknowledging this fact or citing it properly. Typically, this offense is only serious, if the publication in question boasts of including new material, whereas old and already published work may have been taken and re-written to present a new angle. Apart from this being an ethical issue, it also translates as illegal.

1.4 Academic concerns pertaining to Research

Academically this research can be of use in creating new policies or recommendations to avoid the incidence of Plagiarism, or to strengthen existing policies to make them more effective, if the results of this study show that actions are needed to curb this phenomenon.

'Within academia, plagiarism by students, professors, or researchers is considered academic dishonesty or academic fraud, and offenders are subject to academic censure, up to and including expulsion. In journalism, plagiarism is considered a breach of journalistic ethics, and reporters caught plagiarizing typically face disciplinary measures ranging from suspension to termination of employment. Some individuals caught plagiarizing in academic or journalistic contexts claim that they plagiarized unintentionally, by failing to include quotations or give the appropriate citation. While plagiarism in scholarship and journalism has a centuries-old history, the development of the Internet, where articles appear as electronic text, has made the physical act of copying the work of others much easier.

For professors and researchers, plagiarism is punished by sanctions ranging from suspension to termination, along with the loss of credibility and integrity. Charges of plagiarism against students and professors are typically heard by internal disciplinary committees, which students and professors have agreed to be bound by.'

1.5 Study Objectives

The objective of this study is to

Investigate whether plagiarism occurs in Universities

How frequently it occurs

What variables influence Plagiairsm

How significant each variable is, in influencing Plagiarism

Suggesting recommendations and policies to counter the concept of Plagiairsm

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Plagiarism: Do Students Know What It Is?

Maureen M. Dawson and Joyce A. Overfield

Plagiarism is a very common and well-debated topic. In Pakistan, plagiarism is common among research papers in the Higher Education Universities. The consequences of plagiarism for students may be devastating, since their failure to learn and use appropriate study skills will affect both their university experience and their careers. 'This paper set out to investigate students' perceptions of what constitutes plagiarism. A scenario-based questionnaire was given to undergraduate bioscience students from Level 0, that is, Foundation level, to Level 3. Analysis of the completed questionnaires showed student uncertainty about several aspects of plagiarism, including downloading of material from the Internet. Students were unclear about the distinctions between collusion, plagiarism and permissible group work. Thus, despite the media attention given to plagiarism, students are not always aware of the boundaries between plagiarism and acceptable practice. Since the penalties for plagiarising may be severe, it is essential that guidelines are provided early in the programme. The methodology used, was questionnaires, which incorporated MCQ's and case studies, given to students to solve within one hour.'

Karachi University plagiarism cases, substandard research

Daily Times, Report.

This news paper article talks about actual plagiarism cases caught at Karachi University in the senior faculty department. The article highlights that the University does not take serious action against these cases and have been delaying them for over a year. This lax treatment signifies that plagiarism is not a heavily penalized activity. 'The HEC made a request for an inquiry into the two cases after it had inquired about the credentials of a Japan-based professor. The professor was allegedly not a PhD but acted as a PhD thesis examiner in several cases of different departments. The university's reply to the HEC on the subject is still in the process'. Additionally, the Karachi University also has no policies regarding plagiarism and has been slow in formulating such policies. According to some senior teachers, the plagiarism cases indicate the 'massive irregularities which have badly affected the working of the Board of Advanced Studies and Research (BASR), the university's supreme body to regulate research, over the years'.

Intellectual Property Rights: Conceptual Awareness Of Research Students About Plagiarism.

Sheikh Tariq Mahmood, Dr. Azhar Mahmood*, Muhammad Nasir Khan, Allaha Bakhsh Malik

Carrying out research incorporates many stages, the first stage being the preliminary information gathering stage. During this stage, most researches either don't cite the proper sources, or summarize, conceptualize or just blindly lift text from those sources without crediting them. Like this, they unwittingly, or wittingly fall prey to plagiarism. To find out the awareness of research students about the concept of plagiarism and to suggest possible ways to avoid it, a descriptive study was conducted. 'The objectives of the study were to examine the researcher's knowledge about concept of plagiarism, knowledge about specific terminologies, types of plagiarism, and consequences of plagiarism and to suggest possible ways to avoid it. Study was delimited to the research students of education at PhD, M.Phil and MA level in International Islamic University, Islamabad. A sample of sixty students was selected through cluster sampling technique, five point Likert scale questionnaire was used to collect the data. Data were analyzed through descriptive statistics. Major finding were that most of the students had misconception of plagiarism, most of them were unaware about the specific terminologies and types of plagiarism. Majority of the students were unaware about the consequences of plagiarism.' On the basis of these findings it was concluded that they were not properly informed/taught about the concept of plagiarism during their course work and it had implications on the quality of research they submitted.

Higher Education Commission Sets Up Plagiarism Detection Cell

Daily Times, Staff Report.

This newspaper article dated March 2007, reports that the 'HEC [Higher Education Commission] has decided to set up a Plagiarism Detection Cell, in collaboration with the private sector universities in the country'. All universities would be provided software to ensure that plagiarism declines among students and their research papers. The report goes on to say that HEC has adopted a no tolerance policy for plagiarism by faculty members, and any involvement as such, could lead to termination of the faculty post. Action has already been taken at Government College University, International Islamic University and Punjab University. HEC withheld a Rs. 139 million grant to Punjab University because it failed to comply with strict standards against plagiarism. From this report we can see that measures have been taken in an attempt to counter plagiarism, only they haven't proven to be so effective as yet.

Plagiarism: How serious is this problem in Pakistan?

Amin A. Muhammad Gadit

This is a letter to an Editor of a major daily, in which the author says that, 'A recent issue of BMJ2 has discussed a case of plagiarism committed by an author of excellent repute who produced the work of another author and got it published. In Pakistan, this problem is not uncommon and many such cases are brought to the notice of editors of medical journals.

Surprisingly, the people involved in this matter are usually from a higher academic echelon who had published a similar paper of their own in a local prestigious journal, which was earlier, published in an international journal. The writer' experience of reviewing the manuscripts is somewhat similar where work done and published by someone else was in toto reproduced in the manuscript while being under consideration for publication in Pakistan.'

From this we can see that Plagiarism is not just restricted to students but the faculty also takes part in it because a lack of checks and balances implemented in the higher education system of Pakistan. Past cases have shown that those caught plagiarizing have not been heavily penalized, or penalized at all, which emboldens others to go down that path because there is no one policing the activity, so to speak.


Plagiarism - A Survey

Hermann Maurer Frank Kappe Bilal Zaka

This paper, published in the Journal of Universal Computer Science says that, 'Plagiarism in the sense of "theft of intellectual property" has been around for as long as humans have produced work of art and research. However, easy access to the Web, large databases, and telecommunication in general, has turned plagiarism into a serious problem for

publishers, researchers and educational institutions.'

'The penalties that can be imposed by teachers include written or verbal warning, failing or lower grades and extra assignments. The institutional case handling involves hearing and investigation by an appropriate committee, with the accused aware and part of whole process. The institutional level punishments may include official censure, academic integrity training exercises, social work, transcript notation, suspension, expulsion, revocation of degree or certificate and possibly even referral of the case to legal authorities.'

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan issued detailed guidelines and zero tolerance policy against plagiarism to all universities of the country [HEC Press 2006]. This was initiated due to the discovery of high profile plagiarism cases at Pakistani universities which lead to the resignation of involved faculty members and expulsion of students. The paper outlines several soft wares's and programmes which are instrumental to catching plagiarism in research work.


Internet Plagiarism Among College Students

Patrick M. Scanlon David R. Neumann


This paper, taken from the Journal of College Student Development, says that 'Six hundred ninety-eight undergraduates (85.9% between the ages of 17 and 23; 87.5% in the first through fourth year) from nine colleges and universities completed a survey on Internet plagiarism. A substantial minority of students reported they use the Internet to copy and paste text into their papers without citation.'

Internet has played a large role in contributing to the incidence of plagiarism. Free and global access to worldwide content has made it very easy to copy paste and claim other's work as your own. Around 600 students were interviewed about plagiarism and their perception its ethical standing and penalties regarding them. Over 90% were aware of the concept of Plagiarism, and good percentage were aware of penalties regarding violations of plagiarism laws. Though a small percentage did admit they use the internet for material and use it without proper citations.

'These self-reports of online plagiarism, although not pointing to an epidemic of cheating, suggest that many students do go online to cut and paste text for use in their assignments. A relatively small number patronize online term paper mills. The results of the current survey do not, however, tell us the extent to which students who otherwise would not have plagiarized did so due to Internet access, a subject that deserves further study.'

Is Plagiarism on the Rise or just being Disregarded at Online Universities

Debra Leonard Mertz


'Plagiarism seems to not only be increasing in online universities, but also, in many traditional universities with little concern or so it seems. Is this because faculty do not want to become involved or is it because when they do become involved that there is so much hassle to go through to present a case of plagiarism that it is ignored.'

The article talks about how maybe universities are unintentionally promoting plagiarism by not imposing checks and balances on the phenomena and also being lax towards the students who are plagiarizing. The article makes a serious note of the fact that the degrees are being undermined because of all this dishonesty and that universities should enforce policies and take strict action against this practice. Adult students, especially utilize plagiarism to quickly finish their work and get a good grade, which lowers the integrity of the degree they are working for. The author suggests that all students and faculty members create and awareness of what they study and also yearn to be sincere in their endeavors of education, instead of opting for shortcuts to completion.

In Other (People's) Words: plagiarism by university students-literature and lessons

Chris park, the graduate school, lancaster university, lancaster, uk


This paper examines what students have written about plagiarism as a topic and what their perceptions are regarding this phenomena. This paper explores several themes, which are : 'the meaning and context of plagiarism, the nature of plagiarism by students, how do students perceive plagiarism, how big a problem is student plagiarism, why do students cheat, what challenges are posed by digital plagiarism and is there a need to promote academic integrity? It is concluded that plagiarism is doubtless common and getting more so (particularly with increased access to digital sources, including the Internet), that there are multiple reasons why students plagiarise and that students often rationalize their cheating behaviour and downplay the importance of plagiarism by themselves and their peers.'

The paper focuses on the causes and consequences of plagiarism as put forward by students. It was found that these students manage to rationalize plagiarism and justify it according to circumstances or events, which in actuality is not justifiable in any event.

Guilty in whose eyes? University students' perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment

Ashworth, Peter; Bannister, Philip; Thorne, Pauline; on the Qualitative Research Methods Course Unit, Students

This study uses quantitative measures such as questionnaires to measure student's responses. It wants to measure students perceptions regarding plagiarism and isolate variables that influence their decision to cheat. 'Prominent among the findings are the following: (a) there is a strong moral basis to students' views, which focus on such values as friendship, interpersonal trust and good learning. This means that some punishable behaviour can be regarded as justifiable and some officially approved behaviour can be felt to be dubious; (b) the notion of plagiarism is regarded as extremely unclear-some students have a fear that they might well plagiarise unwittingly in writing what they genuinely take to be their own ideas; and (c) factors such as alienation from the university due to lack of contact with staff, the impact of large classes, and the greater emphasis on group learning are perceived by students themselves as facilitating and sometimes excusing cheating. Understanding the student perspective on cheating and plagiarism can significantly assist academics in their efforts to communicate appropriate norms.'

Chapter 3: Methodology & Analytical Choices

3.1 Framework of Analysis

The framework of analysis has been constructed by defining the dependent variable, which is 'plagiarism' and identifying three independent variables, which are ' procrastination, writing inability and lack of awareness'. The framework is as follows:

Figure Theoretical Framework

Lack of Awareness:

In our society, the knowledge of what exactly plagiarism is, and what the consequences of plagiarizing from other sources, without proper citation is, is not very wide spread. Students may know the basic meaning of what plagiarism means, but they are not aware of it to fully understand why this phenomena is unethical and can, in some cases be illegal. Most students copy off material from other sources because it's more convenient and saves a lot of effort and hassle that would otherwise be spent slaving over course work that can be utilized elsewhere. Because of a lack of emphasis on the consequences of Plagiarism by higher education institutions, students are not worried enough to abstain from doing it. Most threats from colleges are empty and they hardly ever carry out any sentence on the offender, unless it is a very serious blatant case which has been exposed into the outer academic circles.

Inability to write:

Majority of students studying in our local institutes, acutely feel the lack of proper English command and grammatical ability, that is needed to complete written assignments and write research papers. This lack of an essential skill, forces students to take material off the internet, rather than complete an assignment with great difficulty and receiving average marks for poor expression and language/grammatical skills.


A lot of students fall victim to procrastination, and as a result they end up sitting at the last minute trying to complete assignments, and when time is of serious shortage, they copy paste off another source, and try to pass it off as their own work. This, apparently saves time and the headache of doing the assignment themselves. Unfortunately a large number of students fall prey to procrastination and from past experience, know that they can get away by doing last minute work, or copying off material from other sources, to make up for wasting time that could have otherwise been used to work.

3.2 Statement of Research Hypothesis

According to the variables specified above, the hypothesis that shall be used in this study are as follows:

H0= Lack of Awareness leads to plagiarism in higher education assignments.

H1= Lack of awareness does not lead to plagiarism in Higher Education Sector

H0=Inability to write properly leads to plagiarism in the Higher Education Sector

H1= Inability to write properly does not lead to plagiarism in the Higher Education Sector

H0= Procrastination leads to plagiarism in the Higher Education Sector.

H1= Procrastination does not lead to plagiarism in the Higher Education Sector.

3.3 Elements of Research Design

After establishing the research hypothesis, the details of the research design will be discussed.

The purpose of this study is to carry out hypothesis testing concerning both the dependent and independent variables.

Studies that engage in hypotheses testing usually explain the nature of certain relationships, or establish the differences among groups or the independence of two or more factors in a situation.

Hypotheses testing is undertaken to explain the variance in the dependent variable in relation to independent variables.

The type of investigation used in this will be a correlational study, in which the important variables associated with the dependent variable can be identified.

Researcher interference in the academic environment will be at a minimum and the entire study will not alter any variables in the environment.

The setting of the study were non-contrived (natural) and the units of analysis are the individual. Data was gathered from a specified set of individuals and then tabulated to generate results.

The time horizon for this study was a cross sectional study. Data was gathered once, over a period of time, in order to establish the research hypotheses.

3.4 Data collection Preferences

In order to collect relevant data, for this study, first of all, only primary data will be used, as secondary data can be costly and difficult to access, it can result in unsuitable aggregations and definitions, and the researcher has no real control over the quality of the data. Primary data is easily obtainable, responses can be tailored according to the study requirements and quality data is obtained while minimizing biasness.

Primary data will be collected using survey methods. The tool used will be questionnaires, which will be distributed among a sample size of 50 respondents in total, using random sampling. The respondents will be students currently attending university, either in their undergraduation or graduation. The universities chosen for this purpose will be the Lahore School of Economics, Lahore University of Management Sciences, FAST and Beaconhouse National University.

Questionnaires will be given out at random and filled by students in their graduate studies and undergraduate studies.

3.5 Statement of Analytical Approach and Methodology

The questionnaire was constructed keeping all four variables in mind. The dependent variable being plagiarism, and the independent variables being Writing Ability, Lack of Awareness and Procrastination. Each variable has a section in the questionnaire which has a few questions to measure each one. The scales used are ordinal and interval scales to measure the variable responses. Questions in the research were inspired by similar questions in other studies that examined plagiarism in different contexts.

Chapter 4: Estimation, Analysis and Conclusion

4.1 Estimated Results

After the data collection, regression models were run on each variable in relation to the dependent variable. The Figure below shows the regression model for Procrastination in relation with Plagiarism.

pro regression.jpg

Figure Regression Model - Procrastination and Plagiarism Model Summary

As displayed in Figure 2, the first table, the Model Summary, displays how well the model fits the data. This table displays R, R squared, adjusted R squared, and the standard error. R is the correlation between the observed and predicted values of the dependent variable. The values of R range from -1 to 1. The sign of R indicates the direction of the relationship (positive or negative). The absolute value of R indicates the strength, with larger absolute values indicating stronger relationships. According to Figure 2, the value for R is 0.348 which is positive, but the low strength of the value indicates that it does not have much of an impact on the dependent variable of Plagiarism.

R squared is the proportion of variation in the dependent variable explained by the regression model. The values of R squared range from 0 to 1. Small values indicate that the model does not fit the data well. The sample R squared tends to optimistically estimate how well the models fits the population. Adjusted R squared attempts to correct R squared to more closely reflect the goodness of fit of the model in the population.s

awareness regression.jpg

Figure Regression Model Lack of Awareness and Plagiarism

This figure shows Writing Inability in relation to Plagiarism.

writing regression.jpg

Figure Regression Model Writing Inability with Plagiarism

This model shows the relation of all three independent variables in relation to the dependent variable.

3 regression.jpg

Figure Regression Model All independent variables in relation to Plagiairsm

This model shows the relation of Writing Inability and lack of awareness to Plagiarism.

wi and aw regression.jpg

Figure Regression Model of Writing Inability and Lack of awareness with Plagiarism