Cultural perspectives on plagiarism

By Bryce Young ‘21

Staff Writer


Since middle school, citing sources and using parentheticals have become second nature to students. After all, the repercussions of committing plagiarism are steep. According to the high school’s Academic Honesty Policy, a student’s first act of academic dishonesty results in a zero on the assignment and a Saturday detention.

A second offense results in a three-day suspension, and if it is done in the same course, the student may end up failing the course.

Committing a third act results in a 10-day suspension and failing the course. Academic dishonesty does not simply include plagiarism; the policy states that it also includes “providing unauthorized assistance to other students.”  Librarian Ms. Mustin warns students, “Plagiarism is cheating in the academic world, and if you plagiarize, it will come back to haunt you.”

However, while these high standards of academic honesty are enforced in schools in the United States to prepare students for university and beyond, international students have not been held to the same level of merit. Oftentimes, exchange students do not understand the concept of individual ownership of an idea and the consequences of not attributing information to sources.

As Turnitin describes, Chinese students are discouraged from producing their own work. Instead, they memorize and reiterate the teachings of their instructors as a sign of respect. In India, Japan, and other East Asian countries concept of universal knowledge is prevalent, where ideas benefiting society as a whole are not recognized as an individual work.

Developing countries such as Eritrea still have limited or even nonexistent copyright protection laws. With little to no standard of academic integrity available in a country, students arrive at international universities oftentimes unaware of the looming consequences for committing plagiarism.

According to the Washington State University Library, the culture shock that international students face in in terms of the various rules and regulations that they must now adhere to becomes extremely difficult. Rather than assume that plagiarism is interpreted the same way around the world, students and educators must clearly search for or define expectations to ensure that academic integrity remains preserved.


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