Trends, triggers, and type of plagiarist on academic assignments: a case of study at the Spanish university

José R. Canay Pazos, Hugo M. Ballesteros, Gonzalo Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Pierre Failler


The aim of the paper is to deepen the knowledge of plagiarism among college students in a Spanish University and to propose measures leading to its reduction. An analytical framework was developed to compare students’ perception of the plagiarism that they perform with data provided by anti-plagiarism software, which provided objective information about student’s real plagiarism behaviour. The data´s comparison revealed a general lack of knowledge about plagiarism; 37 % of the students declared ignorance of what it is. They were able to recognise cheating activities as plagiarism only when severe. Thus, cheating attitudes were perceived as morally acceptable in the most common plagiarism situations such as the reproduction of works from the internet. In policy terms, the implementation of training measures is advisable to provide students with conceptual tools to help them avoid and reject plagiarism. Improving compliance and the articulation of gradual and adapted punishments to the cheaters will be relevant to reinforce the educational system and reduce dishonest attitudes.

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