Plagiarism Norms and Practices in Coursework Assignments

Su-Hie Ting, Muriatul Khusmah Musa, Florence Sau-Fong Mah


The study compared the plagiarism norms and practices among pre-university, diploma and
degree students. The specific aspects examined were perceived necessity to include citations
in assignments, preferred penalties for plagiarism, and academic writing practices. The
questionnaire responses of 263 students from three levels of university education were
analysed. The results showed that the perceived necessity for attribution in assignments is the
highest for the degree students but the norm to require citations and to penalise omission of
citations is not extensive at all three levels. A majority of the students felt that plagiarism
should be penalised but preferred warning from their lecturer, assignment resubmission and
counselling. Mosaic plagiarism is the most common whereby students combine texts from the
same source or different sources without proper citation and referencing. The most common
unethical help-seeking behaviour is copying another student’s work. The findings suggest
that while lack of knowledge on citation and referencing may lead to improper or
non-attribution of sources, plagiarism cannot be dealt with by instruction on citation and
referencing alone as respect for intellectual property can only be inculcated by treating
plagiarism as a serious academic misdemeanour.

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