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Plagiarism prevention in Europe

Plagiarism is a controversial issue in institutions of higher learning across Europe. Various views have been raised concerning this topic vividly indicating autonomy in terms of thinking among different European countries. It is prudent to understand what each country perceives regarding plagiarism for the sake of students who wish to study in different countries. This paper seeks to understand what the plagiarism policy means in countries such as Poland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania and, Bulgaria.

According to recent survey conducted on what various students thought about the definition of plagiarism, different answers were gathered. This question seems to have worked magic in understanding various attitudes towards plagiarism. According to the respondents, students from Czech Republic highlighted that plagiarism simply meant “copying without referencing the original author”. British students simply stated that it had something to do with “taking another person’s work or, cheating”. Students from Lithuanian had a different view saying it simply meant “copying”. Polish answers were a bit long making reference to intellectual property rights, illegal, copying and cheating.

Plagiarism policy in Europe has had different opinions. This may be attributed to the differences in existing education systems due to measures taken by institutions to control and prevent plagiarism. As much as the situation may look similar in most countries, a few scenarios differ. A clear similarity is apparent between Cyprus and the UK given the fact that CY was a former British colony. Other countries display conformance to the communist history. Whether or not students get guidance in their institutions on academic writing is another question to ponder. Again, Cyprus and UK students receive training and instructions on this. According to survey, students from Lithuania, Poland and Czech Republic receive little training on appropriate academic writing.

Most universities and colleges in the US and UK report high cases of plagiarism despite plagiarism checkers put in place to avoid it. A number of universities in the UK have published guidelines to students and lecturers concerning plagiarism. Despite having these guidelines, originality detectors, each institution has its own notion regarding what really constitutes plagiarism. In some instances, poor academic discipline may qualify as plagiarism as opposed to the actual misconduct. This has been labeled as a demeaning factor in achieving consistency among institutions of higher learning.

In 2012 an anonymous survey of 617 students conducted at the University of Graz in Austria showed that about one-third students reported that they had already plagiarized at least once. Reasons for plagiarism were comfort (63 percent), time savings (54 percent), lack of ideas (40 percent), unintended plagiarism (34 percent) and uncertainty about the source of information (19 percent). Such an explanation shows that "comfort", which primary reason for students to plagiarize is indeed lack of a plagiarism checker being used by teachers to control works submitted by students.

With advancement in technology, almost all Universities in the US and the UK have adopted plagiarism detectors. In the UK, much emphasis has been relayed on penalties on students who plagiarize. Universities in the US are quite strict on matters of plagiarism hence prompting students to pay attention to details when attributing works. In contrast with Europe, university students in the US are constantly reminded to acknowledge intellectual property through appropriate citing and referencing of works. Universities and colleges in the US insist on three most important attribution systems- Modern American Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA) and Havard. According to this attribution systems, students are advised to have a reference list and parenthesis on materials cited in the text. To some extent, these attribution systems have managed to streamline issues of plagiarism as well as bring consistency in the US.

Institutions of higher learning in both countries have equally faced challenges on general knowledge and especially that which in the public domain. In the current era of information explosion, more knowledge is becoming common hence presenting the challenge on what is plagiarized or not. This means that not all information requires citation yet, plagiarism checkers think otherwise. On the contrary, it is easier to assume that all information found on the web is general knowledge and does not require citing. In the overall, plagiarism is still an issue to solve in many countries given the fact that knowledge is dynamic.

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