A literature review of the role of professors in university student plagiarism

D. Gottardello, M. Valverde, M. M. Pamies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Plagiarism has become a major concern in higher education and is experiencing considerable growth in the last couple of decades. The increased use of technology has made it easier to reach a great deal of data and sources of information worldwide. All these developments have required institutions to pay special attention to developing students’ skills in order to select and use correctly such vast amounts of data at their disposal. However, it is not always easy for students to properly handle, interpret and process information to credit the right sources and avoid plagiarism. This situation has lifted plagiarism to the top of the list of academic integrity infractions.

The very concept of plagiarism is controversial and not widely shared, and in the literature we can detect disagreement about what constitutes plagiarism. Even universities and professors are often unsure of the concept and their knowledge may not truly reflect its real meaning (Bruton & Childers, 2016). Plagiarism is regarded as an increasing threat (Park, 2003; Stuhmcke et al., 2015; Yazici, Yazici, & Erdem, 2011) and a critical breach of academic integrity involving a violation of the standard of honesty, professional ethic and cast doubt on the value and therefore reputation of an institution (Yeo & Chien, 2007), the quality of the courses offered (Beute, Elizabeth & Winberg, 2008) and the education system in general.

In this context, a key challenge for universities is to deal with academic dishonesty by means of collaboration between administrators and professors or even implementing a merger of competencies. This might entail rethinking the role of professors, their autonomy and their responsibility as well as encouraging them to become involved at different levels of action. Yet, studies to date have not realized the real value and critical role of professors, but have simply observed their perceptions on the topic what professors do or do not do when faced with students' plagiarism, without attempting to pinpoint the whole reach of their important role.

This paper is therefore focused on addressing this research gap and aims to analyze the role that professors play in addressing plagiarism. Namely, we intend to understand and highlight the role played by professors in preventing, detecting and managing plagiarism in higher education, also taking into account their perceptions.

This paper addresses this issue through a literature review of 33 journal articles. The results reveal that professors’ definition of plagiarism is confused and affected in some cases by the type of discipline and tenure in the university, contributing to increase the difficulty of detecting and managing it. Moreover, professors feel they are responsible to prevent, detect and manage students’ plagiarism but at the same time they are disappointed with the lack of support offered by their universities. In this sense, it seems that they depend very much of how much effort and investment the whole institution is putting into addressing the problem, the sort of policies being applied, and the type of sanctions they are prepared to implement.

Our analysis of the literature indicates that professors are unwilling protagonists in the shadow and we suggest a number of avenues for much needed further research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEDULEARN17 Proceedings
Subtitle of host publication9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies July 3rd-5th, 2017 — Barcelona, Spain
EditorsL. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, I. Candel Torres
PublisherIATED Academy
ISBN (Print)9788469737774
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2017

Publication series

NameEDULEARN Proceedings
ISSN (Print)2340-1117

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • plagiarism
  • educational management
  • academic misconduct
  • higher education
  • ethics
  • leadership
  • internet


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