RefMe Survey Shows Students’ Attitudes Toward Plagiarism

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

The online reference generator RefMe has released a survey detailing US students' attitudes toward plagiarism, finding that most students take the responsibility to generate original content seriously.

The survey found that 3 out of 4 US students are concerned about citing sources correctly. Today, students have access to automated citation tools that help them cite quickly and correctly to avoid plagiarism altogether. Still, 60% of students who use RefMe report being concerned about plagiarism; that number increases to 75% for students who do not use online citation generators. Only 6% of students report that their peers are "not at all concerned" about plagiarism.

According to the survey, the results demonstrate the importance of citation management. 61% of non-RefMe users report having lost points for citing incorrectly. The most common errors students lost points for over citation were using wrong citation style (44%) and formatting incorrectly (54%).

Far fewer students are being marked down for failing to cite sources. Instead, they are losing points for citing sources wrongly. Thus, RefMe allows students to generate fully-formatted citations in over 7,500 styles, including the most popular: MLA, APA, and Chicago.

The survey also found that there is a widespread desire for more information about citation. Few academic classes specifically go over citations; it is often viewed as something with which students must familiarize themselves. Only 40% of students agreed that they have received enough information about citations, while 60% actively wants more information about citation processes and styles.

Students are not unaware, however, of the serious consequences plagiarism can have on their academics. 82% of students rightly think that plagiarism can result in their suspension or expulsion from college, while another 82% recognize that it can negatively impact their grades. In the severest cases, plagiarism can also lead to legal prosecution. Currently, universities are experiencing a plagiarism epidemic, and analysts believe that students are more often than not unknowingly committing plagiarism. Thus, universities should devote more resources to teaching students the dimensions and kinds of plagiarism.

The survey was conducted in February 2016 and received 2,111 students responses.

Some students engage in a practice called "ghost-writing" in which they outsource a paper for a price through an online platform. A ghostwriters' charge for a paper is somewhere between $10 and $50 per page – the price being dependent on things like deadline, length, and anticipated difficulty. Reports find that California, Texas, and New York are the most popular regions for students commissioning ghostwriters. Ghostwriting is an active and serious form of plagiarism.

Despite the lack of knowledge, findings show that students are gradually turning toward technology to avoid plagiarism. 65% of students report that they have used an online citation tool at one time or another, and another 49% say that they use a plagiarism checker before submitting their work. In some cases, professors will run their students papers through online checkers to determine whether or not any having committed plagiarism. The report concludes by urging students to turn to online sources like RefMe in greater numbers to avoid the consequences of plagiarism.

For interested readers, RefMe's full report on plagiarism is available online.

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