08 March 2010
Download the Plagiarism Road Map [PDF]
Although practised for hundreds of years, the problem of plagiarism has become a much-debated topic in education. Advances in technology have been proposed as the main reason for a suspected increase in the incidence of plagiarism, but there are a number of other possible factors that must be considered when developing an effective prevention strategy, including the rise in the number of students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, increasing time pressures on both lecturers and students and misconceptions about the ownership of electronic material. Addressing the issues surrounding student plagiarism requires adoption of a holistic approach and any attempt to check how well an institution is dealing with student plagiarism needs to operate at several levels, integrating a range of actions.
This roadmap has been designed to help institutions highlight priority areas within their own policies and practice, and then identify the actions required to address the issues raised. Institutions have been characterised as being at one of five stages of development ranging from baseline institutions with little or no formal policies in place, through to institutions with a well developed, sustainable Model of practice.
Six themes have been identified as requiring action in the development of a sustainable model of practice. Each theme relates to a specific area of activity within an institution, and together form the basis of a holistic approach to plagiarism prevention and detection. For each theme a series of questions are posed that will not only determine the current level at which the institution operates, but will also highlight the activity required to facilitate progression to the next and subsequent stage of development. In addition the questions can be used to confirm the appropriateness of actions already in place.
A number of institutions are already asking themselves many of the questions contained in this audit, but few, if any, will be asking all of the questions and furthermore taking appropriate action to address identified gaps. Questions that lead to action are by necessity, very specific; however, this document begins with a series of reflective questions that set the context within which the more specific questions are situated. These reflective questions are designed to check the effect of specific questions, not to plan actions to enhance the institution's ability to deal with plagiarism.