Plagiarism: Canadian students better at not getting caught

Among international students, plagiarism disproportionately high

At Dalhousie, 13 per cent of students are from other countries (Photo: Sara Leslie)

International students made up over a third of Dalhousie’s plagiarism cases last year. That number is high, considering international students are a sliver of Dal’s total student body — about 13 per cent.

There were 176 official plagiarism cases during Dal’s 2012-2013 school year. The university has about 16,000 students.

Studies point fingers at language barriers and culture clash to explain why students from overseas plagiarize more than their domestic counterparts. But Bob Mann, manager of Disciplines and Appeals at Dalhousie, says there’s more to it.

“There are a lot of people who believe the academic integrity problem is an international student problem, that this is not something domestic students do,” he says. “That is untrue.”

When it comes to cheating on tests, copying homework and pasting from the internet, Mann thinks Canadian students are just better at getting away with it.

He says Canadian students at Dal know how professors “look at these things, the way they’re evaluated, the way that they’re read and considered.”

So it’s easier for them to avoid detection.

“A mere mastery of the English language,” he says, “enables someone to look at something copied and go ‘Oh, that hasn’t been changed enough. I need to change that more.’ Someone operating in a language that’s not their own might not have that same ability.”

Language barriers, cultural differences

Ishika Sharma, vice-president external of Dalhousie’s international student association, says while international students have to pass an English test to get into Dal, “if a person is good at academics give them any book and they can clear an examination.”

Sharma says students approach professors about difficulty with issues such as sourcing but, “the professors usually shun the students.”

“Many international students have suffered losing credibility in their programs because for some reason they ended up plagiarizing the text even when they did not mean to,” she says.

Student senate representative Alex Killham says Dalhousie is “very interested in getting international students to come to the school” in order to capture high, unregulated differential fees. However it is less committed to ensuring their academic success once they’ve arrived.




One thought on “Plagiarism: Canadian students better at not getting caught

  1. This problem becomes all the more glaring when a group is working on a project. If one student cuts and pastes their part from the internet, the whole group can take the blame.

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