The Influence of Online Factors on School, College and University Plagiarism

The disruptive influence of the internet is undoubtably being felt more so than ever before in academic institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. The internet can serve as a disruptive influence in this field because it has made it much easier for modern students to cheat and deceive their academic tutors by passing off other author’s work as their own. For example, in the context of essay or report writing, a student can copy and paste large sections of content from online sources. This occurs very regularly primarily because it is both quick and easy for students to do. In the modern world where the work/life balance of students is becoming ever more restricted, the speed with which they can plagiarise with online content is a key motivating factor behind them doing it. Equally, students have a much higher awareness of the importance of attaining the best grades possible in their academic studies because the degree market is becoming more saturated than ever before. Therefore students often feel pressured into plagiarising to ensure that they attain higher grades than their counterparts and thus increase the attractiveness of their candidacy to future employers.

There is also now a rapidly growing and developing issue of students purchasing exemplar answers over the internet and submitting it as their own work. In the context of plagiarism, it is not in itself an act of plagiarism for a student to source an exemplar answer on which to base their work. It becomes plagiarism however when the student submits the entirety of the exemplar answer without writing their own essay or report based on the structure of the template. In effect, the concept is much the same as handing in essays and reports that have been completed by a member of a student’s peer group rather than by the student herself/himself. In recommendation, the student should consider the following steps in relation to ‘best use’ of template answers:

  1. In all cases, visit the source texts which the exemplar author has used to gain a fuller understanding of the theories and principles discussed.
  2. Always avoid direct use of content, it is an exemplar not a submission copy.
  3. Consider noting down significant arguments forwarded by the exemplar author and search for them elsewhere in the field. This will enable you as a student to gain authors perspectives and use it as a baseline to formulate your own, unique critical argument.
  4. Use it only sparingly, you should view it only as a starting point in the process of formulating your own answer after all this is what your academic tutor is interested in.
  5. Never submit it in its entirety believing that because you have paid for it, that it is now your work. This is absolutely not the case as it has been written by another author. The ideas and arguments contained within it are not representative of your work but that of another individual.
  6. In the event that the essay becomes too difficult to interpret or rework, take a note of the chapter headings and search for these in the available literature. This will serve as an effective baselines for you in trying to develop your own critical argument regarding the subject matter.

The above set of sequential steps will hugely assist you as a student in better understanding how to optimise the knowledge gain potential inherent in essays and assignments purchased over the internet. They must never, in any case, be submitted under the impression that they are indicative of your own words, ideas and critical judgements regarding the topic which you have based your essay and/or academic report on.