Plagiarism : Ignorance amongst first year Public Relations Students

Plagiarism: Ignorance amongst First
year Public Relations Students with
regard to English Language
Assignments WSU Chiselhurst Site. A
case study report.
Renee Morrison,
Department of Communication and
Languages, WSU
• Plagiarism in English language assignments 1st PR
students WSU, Chiselhurst Site.
• Students struggle to use referencing techniques
correctly led to committing plagiarism.
• Students were requested to research Theories on
Ethics and write a report of 1000 words based on
their understanding of ethics.
• Concern that plagiarism is on the rise due to
ignorance and easy access to academic papers on
the internet.
• 400 colleges and universities have subscribed
to an online database called Turnitin.com_ to
aid with plagiarism, in North America alone
(Canadian Association of University Teachers,
• Realisation that plagiarised source materials
are fraudulent are not fully understood.
• Similarly the WSU have a plagiarism system
called SafeAssign that is built into the elearning WiSeUp system.
• Australia in 2005 a research journal was
launched to address issues of academic and
educational integrity. (Cohen, 2007, p. A51).
• Concern that English Second Language (ESL)
students may be more vulnerable to
accusations of fraud as their inappropriate
textual borrowing is a more obvious.
(McGowan, 2005; Pecorari, 2003; Valentine,
• L1 and L2 writing researchers have been trying
to understand the reasons that might account
for unacceptable source appropriation.
Literature continue
• Student plagiarism, the complexity of the
phenomenon, locating it in a web of socio-cultural
• Inappropriate source attributions culturally shaped
students lives (Abasi, Akbari,&Graves, 2006; Cadman,
1997; Sherman, 1992), their outsider status relative to
their prospective discourse communities (Ange´lilCarter, 2000; Chandrasoma, Thompson, & Pennycook,
2004; Currie, 1993, 1998; Pecorari, 2003; Ritter, 2005;
Thompson, 2005; Valentine, 2006), or their racial and
social positioning excluding them from the rules and
conventions of school literacy practices (Hull & Rose,
1989; Starfield, 2002).
The Study
• “Popular plagiarism”- or everyday nontransgressive intertextuality is an integral part
of our life.
• Intertextual borrowing as a pervasive social
• Politicised information by governments legal.
• Social users constructed textual knowledge as
common knowledge and use it freely.
Theoretical framework
• Sociocultural-historical framework focused on
both the situated and distributed nature of
learning mediated by the cultural artefacts and
practices of a community(Brown, Collins, &
Duguid, 1989; Vygotsky, 1978; Wenger, 1998;
Wertsch, 1994).
• Academic writing as a situated activity mediated
by institutional discourses and practices
(Foucault, 1981; Gee, 1996; Lemke, 1995).
Bakhtinian Dialogic Theory of
• Of particular relevance to this paper is the
Bakhtinian dialogic theory of language that
brings to the fore the heavily borrowed
character of language use as well as the
intertextual nature of such use in the sense
that all utterances respond to, and anticipate,
other utterances (Bakhtin, 1981, 1986;
Volosinov, 1973).
• Qualitative study with 40 students involving marked
Assignments and Reflective discussion post marking.
• This formed the basis of the data sources.
• The research design provided a detailed understanding
of the context as well as the experiences of the
students in the class.
• The process of data analysis was interpretive and
attempted to understand what the students considered
to be important writing assignments; how they
understood referencing, source attribution, and
• Although and guidelines to writing the
Assignment on Ethics were explained, students
did not understand the topic.
• The writing assignments were mostly one shot.
PR student writers relied completely on the
language of the published authors to produce
their own texts.
• Rules that work tend to be kept, while those that
cause confusion eventually get dropped or
Findings: Reflective discussions
• “I used the articles ideas because they were so
similar to my ideas”(Participant 24).
• “I just borrow some others a little bit . . . To be
really honest, I didn’t have much time to explore
other books in the library or on the internet.”
(Participant 4)
• “I want to show the lecturer I’ve read the articles.
I want to show her I know what all of these
articles and books have said” (Participant 21).
• When writing a paper one should avoid simply
weaving together different quotations to tell
the story.
• Some of the students revealed cultural,
educational, and professional dispositions that
oriented them differently to text, knowledge,
and authorship. These must be explored and
Recommendations Cont.
• Students considered the process of source
attribution mainly as a formal process.
• Need to locate any understanding of textual
ownership and plagiarism in academic writing
as part of a broader account of institutional
regulation, interdisciplinarity, and the
mediation of discourse.
• SafeAssign programme to become more