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Education Improves Plagiarism Detection by Biology Undergraduates

Emily A. Holt
BioScience
Vol. 62, No. 6 (June 2012), pp. 585-592
DOI: 10.1525/bio.2012.62.6.9
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/bio.2012.62.6.9
Page Count: 8
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Education Improves Plagiarism Detection by Biology Undergraduates
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Abstract

Regrettably, the sciences are not untouched by the plagiarism affliction that threatens the integrity of budding professionals in classrooms around the world. My research, however, suggests that plagiarism training can improve students’ recognition of plagiarism. I found that 148 undergraduate ecology students successfully identified plagiarized or unplagiarized paragraphs three-quarters of the time. The students’ ability to identify plagiarism was not significantly different when the quoted or paraphrased text included complex sentence structure and scientific jargon and when it included only simple sentences that mostly lacked jargon. The students who received plagiarism training performed significantly better at plagiarism detection than did those who did not receive the training. Most of the students, independent of training, identified properly paraphrased, quoted, and attributed material but had much greater difficulty identifying paraphrases that included long strings of copied text—up to 15 words—or proper paraphrases that lacked citations. The misunderstanding of paraphrasing and citation conventions found here could manifest as unintentional plagiarism in these students’ later work.

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