Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 139–147 | Cite as

Is There an Effective Approach to Deterring Students from Plagiarizing?

  • Lidija Bilic-Zulle
  • Josip Azman
  • Vedran Frkovic
  • Mladen Petrovecki
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of plagiarism detection software and penalty for plagiarizing in detecting and deterring plagiarism among medical students. The study was a continuation of previously published research in which second-year medicals students from 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 school years were required to write an essay based on one of the four scientific articles offered by the instructor. Students from 2004/2005 (N = 92) included in present study were given the same task. Topics of two of the four articles were considered less complex, and two were more complex. One less and one more complex articles were available only as hardcopies, whereas the other two were available in electronic format. The students from 2001/2002 (N = 111) were only told to write an original essay, whereas the students from 2002/2003 (N = 87) were additionally warned against plagiarism, explained what plagiarism was, and how to avoid it. The students from 2004/2005 were warned that their essays would be examined by plagiarism detection software and that those who had plagiarized would be penalized. Students from 2004/2005 plagiarized significantly less of their essays than students from the previous two groups (2% vs. 17% vs. 21%, respectively, < 0.001). Over time, students more frequently choose articles with more complex subjects (< 0.001) and articles in electronic format (< 0.001) as a source for their essays, but it did not influence the rate of plagiarism. Use of plagiarism detection software in evaluation of essays and consequent penalties had effectively deterred students from plagiarizing.


Plagiarism Scientific misconduct Students, Medical Schools, Medical 



We are grateful to Miss Vedrana Marinac and Mrs. Martina Mavrinac for their help in data entering, analyses and text editing. We thank Professor Matko Marusic and especially Dr. Aleksandra Misak for their valuable advice while preparing this paper. This study is part of the research project “Prevalence, features and attitudes toward plagiarism in biomedical sciences” supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, grant No. 0062044.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lidija Bilic-Zulle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Josip Azman
    • 3
  • Vedran Frkovic
    • 4
  • Mladen Petrovecki
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Medical InformaticsRijeka University School of MedicineRijekaCroatia
  2. 2.Rijeka University Hospital CenterRijekaCroatia
  3. 3.Department of AnatomyRijeka University School of MedicineRijekaCroatia
  4. 4.Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive CareRijeka University Hospital CenterRijekaCroatia
  5. 5.“Dubrava” University HospitalZagrebCroatia

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