Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 55–73 | Cite as

Systems for the Production of Plagiarists? The Implications Arising from the Use of Plagiarism Detection Systems in UK Universities for Asian Learners



This paper argues that the inappropriate framing and implementation of plagiarism detection systems in UK universities can unwittingly construct international students as ‘plagiarists’. It argues that these systems are often implemented with inappropriate assumptions about plagiarism and the way in which new members of a community of practice develop the skills to become full members of that community. Drawing on the literature and some primary data it shows how expectations, norms and practices become translated and negotiated in such a way that legitimate attempts to conform with the expectations of the community of practice often become identified as plagiarism and illegitimate attempts at cheating often become obscured from view. It argues that this inappropriate framing and implementation of plagiarism detection systems may make academic integrity more illusive rather than less. It argues that in its current framing – as systems for ‘detection and discipline’ – plagiarism detection systems may become a new micro-politics of power with devastating consequences for those excluded.

Key Words

alienation communities of practice discrimination international students plagiarism plagiarism detection systems 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Technology and OrganisationLancaster University Management School, Lancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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