Sample Dissertation Topic with Titles

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Plagiarism / custom-written essays

  1. Is plagiarism as socially acceptable as digital piracy?

This thesis considers whether the academically unacceptable practice of plagiarism for university and college students is merely an extension of widespread digital piracy in arenas such as music, film, and software. Further, it evaluates whether students themselves perceive a difference in these practices, and how and why such differences exist. In so doing this thesis makes a unique contribution to widening existing academic knowledge and applies a mixed methodological research approach to answering the research question. Accordingly, in addition to undertaking a thorough review of existing secondary literature, the author will undertake primary research through the interviewing of music industry insiders as well as university lecturers and students.

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Jensen, C. (2003). ‘The more things change, the more things stay the same: Copyright, digital technology and social norms’. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 56(2), pp. 531-570.
Marshall, S. and Garry, M. (2005). ‘How well do students really understand plagiarism?’. Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference, Brisbane, 4-7 December 2005.
Snapper, J.W. (1999). ‘On the Web, plagiarism matters more than copyright piracy’. Ethics and Information Technology, Vol. 1(2), pp. 127-135.
Taylor, K. (2006). ‘Plagiarism and piracy: A publisher’s perspective’. Learned Publishing, Vol. 19(4), pp. 259-266.

  1. Cultural attitudes towards academic plagiarism: A comparison between China, the UK and Indonesia.

The Indonesian government has sought to limit plagiarism through regulations introduced in 2010. In contrast, whilst plagiarism is heavily penalised by UK universities, in China, as noted by the academics Hayes and Introna (2005), there appears to be a higher cultural acceptance of reproducing the academic opinions of others and a lesser expectations of critical analysis within academic work at a tertiary education level. In contrasting the approaches adopted by higher education authorities within the three countries and comparing cultural norms within their respective societies, this thesis adopts a cross-disciplinary approach and seeks to evaluate the prevailing belief that plagiarism is culturally driven. In so doing, it examines the cultural attitudes towards plagiarism amongst university students in China, Indonesia and the UK, to reveal whether these beliefs are well-founded or a distortion of language complexity issues.
Bloch, J. (2007). ‘Plagiarism across cultures: Is there a difference?’. Indonesian Journal of English Language Teaching, Vol. 3(2), pp. 139-151.
Hayes, N. and Introna, L.D. (2005). ‘Cultural values, plagiarism, and fairness: When plagiarism gets in the way of learning’. Ethics & Behavior, Vol. 15(3), pp. 213-231.

 

Hayes, N. and Introna, L.D. (2005). ‘Systems for the production of plagiarists? The implications arising from the use of plagiarism detection systems in UK universities for Asian learners’. Journal of Academic Ethics, Vol. 3(1), pp. 55-73.
Siaputra, I.B. (2012). ‘The 4PA of plagiarism: A psycho-academic profile of plagiarists’. Fifth International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference, Newcastle upon Tyne, 16-18 July 2012.

  1. From ‘Skullion’s scholars’ to ‘customised essays’: A critique of the changing nature of the assistance available to students in the writing, completion, and proofreading of higher education assignments within the UK over the last 20 years.

Immortalised in the film Porterhouse Blue, by David Jason, the concept of ‘Skullion’s scholars’, as written by Tom Sharpe in his novels of 1974 and 1995, refers to the widespread practice whereby, in pre-Internet days, university students who had great sporting prowess but were less academically able paid bookish peers to complete assignments for them. This paper considers the modern commercial practices of note-taking, model answers, contracted writing, and proofreading services, available either through universities themselves or corporate entities online. Having initially outlined the development of such services, this paper thereafter evaluates the opinions of those who commissioned ‘Skullion’ essays in the past, as well as those who presently utilise online assistance where the tutorial services offered by their own universities have failed to support them adequately, or who feel that these methods are necessary in a ruthlessly competitive job market. This is a paper that could, depending on word length, also involve interviews with those who offer the assistance to individual students as well as long-standing academic staff who have worked through the Internet revolution in student assistance.

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Blum, S.D. (2011). My word!: Plagiarism and college culture (2nd edn). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Moore, M. (2013). ‘Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating’. Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2013.
Selwyn, N. (2008). ‘Not necessarily a bad thing…’: A study of online plagiarism amongst undergraduate students. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 33(5), pp. 465-479.
Wellman, N. and Fallon, J. (2012). ‘Investigating academic malpractice within an MBA Marketing module’. International Journal for Educational Integrity, Vol. 8(1), pp. 41-54.

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