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A Self-Plagiarism Intervention for Doctoral Students: A Qualitative Pilot Study

Abstract

This purpose of this qualitative study was to gather detailed information about student perceptions of self-plagiarism and the perceived effectiveness of a brief self-plagiarism video tutorial. Semi-structured interviews (n = 7) were conducted and health sciences doctoral students were queried regarding their knowledge and perceptions of self- plagiarism. The population for this study was new doctoral students, as well as students who had committed self-plagiarism during the semester. Overall, participants reported a specific self-plagiarism intervention was more helpful in preventing self- plagiarism than a traditional plagiarism intervention and that the intervention should be included in initial program orientation. Overwhelmingly, students did not believe self- plagiarism was a serious academic offense and think they own their intellectual property and unpublished works.

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Correspondence to Colleen M. Halupa.

APPENDIX

APPENDIX

Self-Plagiarism Intervention Effectiveness Survey

Please answer the following questions using this scale:

  1. 1.

    Strongly agree, 2) Agree, 3) Neutral, 4) Disagree, 5) Strongly Disagree ***************************************************************************

Perceptions of Self-Plagiarism Intervention

  1. 1.

    The self-plagiarism intervention increased my understanding of why faculty and universities consider this an academic integrity offense.

  2. 2.

    The self-plagiarism intervention has changed my perception of self-plagiarism.

  3. 3.

    The self-plagiarism intervention is an effective tool to educate students who have committed self-plagiarism.

  4. 4.

    I think an intervention for “cut and paste” or improper citation plagiarism would be more effective than a self-plagiarism intervention in reducing self-plagiarism in students. (reverse code)

  5. 5.

    I think self-plagiarism should be incorporated into the regular misuse of sources intervention rather than being treated as a separate issue. (reverse code)

  6. 6.

    The self-plagiarism intervention will assist me in not committing this violation again in the future.

  7. 7.

    Do you think students in the health sciences are fundamentally more ethical than students in other academic disciplines?

    Yes/No

    Open-Ended Questions

  8. 8.

    If you thought self-plagiarism was not a breach of academic integrity initially, has your opinion changed after viewing the self-plagiarism intervention? if so, why? If not, why?

    If you believed self-plagiarism was a breach of academic integrity initially, please skip question #1 and answer question 2 below.

  9. 9.

    If you previously believed self-plagiarism was a breach of academic integrity before you completed the intervention has the self-plagiarism intervention increased your understanding of the issue? Why or why not?

  10. 10.

    How do you think a university ought to handle cases of self-plagiarism? Should there be any consequences for students who self-plagiarize? Should those consequences be any different from cases of “cut and paste” plagiarism?

  11. 11.

    How do you think the self-plagiarism intervention could be improved?

Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Is there such a thing as self-plagiarism? what is your definition of self-plagiarism or how would you describe it? (Bird 2002; Jones et al. 2005; Lang, 2010; Bennett et al. 2011; Halupa and Bolliger 2013; Halupa and Bolliger 2015)

    Probe

    1. a.

      Do you believe self-plagiarism is a clearly defined concept? Why or why not? (Maxwell et al. 2008; Halupa 2014; Halupa and Bolliger 2015).

  2. 2.

    Do you believe it acceptable to reuse part of a paper you wrote previously in a new assignment? why or why not? (Syed-Brown, 2010; Owunwanne et al. 2010; Sweet-Holp and James 2013; ORI, 2013; Halupa 2014; Halupa and Bolliger 2015

    Probes

    1. a.

      If you think it is acceptable, how much do you believe you should be able to reuse? What about a few sentences? Why or why not? (Bird 2002; Jones et al. 2005; Syed-Brown 2010)

    2. b.

      Do you think it is acceptable to reuse an entire paper verbatim? Why or why not?

  3. 3.

    What is your opinion about student ownership of papers they have written which have not been copyrighted or published? Jones et al. 2005; (Lang 2010; ORI 2013; Halupa and Bolliger 2013; Halupa 2014; Halupa and Bolliger 2015)

Probe

  1. a.

    Who owns student assignments? How do you believe they can and/or should be used?(Lang 2010; Syed-Brown 2010)

  1. 4.

    why do you think you need to obtain anyone’s permission if you plan to use part of previous writings? if so, who? (Halupa and Bolliger 2013; Halupa 2014; Halupa and Bolliger 2015)

    Probe

    1. a.

      Do you view this as ethical or non-ethical? Why?

  2. 5.

    When and how do you feel you should be educated about academic honesty including self-plagiarism? (Novotney 2011; Dinagsao et al. 2014)

    Probes

  1. a)

    At the start of a program, should you have to sign a document indicating you are aware, a formal course, review of a policy, etc.? (Novotney 2011; Dinagsao et al. 2014)

  2. b)

    Have you ever self-plagiarized? When and why?

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Halupa, C.M., Breitenbach, E. & Anast, A. A Self-Plagiarism Intervention for Doctoral Students: A Qualitative Pilot Study. J Acad Ethics 14, 175–189 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-016-9262-x

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Keywords

  • Self-plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism intervention
  • Student perceptions
  • Academic honesty
  • Plagiarism detection programs
  • Self-plagiarism prevention