Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of Plagiarism as Reported by Participants Completing the AuthorAID MOOC on Research Writing

Abstract

To explore the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding plagiarism in a large culturally diverse sample of researchers who participated in the AuthorAID MOOC on Research Writing. An online survey was designed and delivered through Google Forms to the participants in the AuthorAID MOOC on Research Writing during April to June 2017. A total of 765 participants completed the survey (response rate 47.8%), and 746 responses were included in the analysis. Almost all participants (97.6%) reported knowledge of the term “plagiarism”, and 89.1% of them understand the meaning of the term before joining the course. Most participants reported that their university does not provide access to plagiarism detection software (82.0%), and 35% participants admitted they had been involved in plagiarism during their education. Overall attitudes toward plagiarism (65.3 ± 10.93) indicated low acceptance of plagiarism. Moreover, low scores were reported for approval attitude (25.22 ± 5.63), disapproval attitude (11.78 ± 3.64), and knowledge of subjective norms (20.63 ± 5.22). The most common reason for plagiarizing was lack of time (16.1%), and the most common consequence was the perception that “those who plagiarize are not respected or seen positively” (71.4%). Developing country researchers appear to be familiar with the concept of plagiarism, but knowledge among the participants surveyed here was incomplete. Knowledge about plagiarism and awareness of its harmfulness must be improved, because there is an obvious relationship between attitudes toward plagiarism and knowledge, reasons and consequences. The use of plagiarism-detection software can raise awareness about plagiarism.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.inasp.info/uploads/filer_public/0a/7c/0a7c9aa3-d79f-4847-ab86-13bc5b6f7111/course_announcement_-_authoraid_course_april_2017.pdf.

  2. 2.

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScX0-kteiuv1R-LHA54Ot7rmKH3BTBvIjHIPdmRvDpj9-vnZg/closedform.

  3. 3.

    Similarity index is a measure of the extent of overlap or match between an author’s file compared to other sources in the Turnitin databases. It helps locate matching or similar text in a submitted work, but does not directly identify plagiarism. Turnitin users must decide whether the overlapping or matching text is intentional plagiarism, unintentional plagiarism, or improper/lack of citation.

  4. 4.

    COPE Flowcharts: https://publicationethics.org/resources/flowcharts.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the AuthorAID Team for permission to conduct this survey during the fourth AuthorAID Proposal Writing and Research Writing MOOC between April 2017 and June 2017. We also thank K. Shashok (AuthorAID in the Eastern Mediterranean) for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript, and for improving the use of English in the manuscript.

Funding

The Validation of the Attitudes toward Plagiarism Questionnaire was part of the scientific project titled “Relation to scientific plagiarism, its prevalence and features” (No. 829-10-1229) supported by the University of Rijeka. However, the current study received no funding from any agency.

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Conceived and designed the experiments: ARM. Collected the data: ARM. Analyzed the data: ARM, MM. Wrote and revised the paper: ARM, MM. Both the authors read and approved the final manuscript and accept responsibility for it.

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Correspondence to Aamir Raoof Memon.

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Conflict of interest

ARM served as one of the guest facilitators in the fourth AuthorAID Proposal Writing and Research Writing MOOC. There are no further competing interests.

Ethical Approval

The INASP Team gave permission to conduct the survey, and the Research Ethics Committee of Peoples University of Medical & Health Sciences for Women, Nawabshah approved the study (Letter No: PUMHSW/SBA/PVC/214; project code: IPRS-17-95).

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Memon, A.R., Mavrinac, M. Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices of Plagiarism as Reported by Participants Completing the AuthorAID MOOC on Research Writing. Sci Eng Ethics 26, 1067–1088 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-020-00198-1

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Keywords

  • Online learning
  • MOOC
  • Plagiarism
  • Research ethics
  • Developing countries