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Oxford (and the world) Plagued by Student Plagiarism

March 15, 2006

I don’t know how many of you deal with plagiarism on a daily basis, but all too many articles lay the brunt of the blame on the internet and computers. I don’t know if I buy that.

Oxford Plagued by Student Plagiarism

Certainly computers and the ease of access of the internet have facilitated the ease of copy/paste “writing,” but I doubt that the act of copying from source to text with no indication of source is really all that new…or all that increasingly widespread.

Consider this…college enrollment has increased relative to population (at least from the century perspective):

Population Division Working Paper No. 43: “The proportion graduating from high school grew from under 40 percent (among those born at the turn of the last century) to over 80 percent (among those born around 1950). The proportion completing college went from under 10 percent to over 25 percent (Mare 1995). “

So there are more students enrolled, meaning more bodies sinning even is one assumes that the ratio of plagiarizers remains constant. More instances (because of more students) makes it look like a higher percentage.

Second item to consider: it is now easier to catch plagiarizers–much to their chagrin. From simply “googling” a unique phrase to services like Turnitin.com, instructors can now easily run down every paper instead of relying on instinct and library research.

So, is the problem really on the rise? Hard to tell. I think the better question is how to curb its occurence. Aside from a random Chronicle of Higher Education article, no one seems to much care about that.

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