In Germany and Netherlands, plagiarism is a crucial problem in higher education. It is a serious offense, and for numerous reasons, it is becoming rampant. Going online makes it very easy to "steal" words, ideas, pages, and paragraphs, and paste it. However, on a positive note, the internet has made it a bit easier to find plagiarized work due to the rise of plagiarism checkers in German and Dutch languages, both free and paid.
Germany has long considered it unnecessary to give plagiarism a deeper look, but things are now changing as institutions are now free to set their own penalties for plagiarism. Graduate students, undergraduates, and even faculty have been recently found guilty of plagiarism. In Netherlands, penalties are restricted to a suspension period and a formal warning letter. For instance, in 2014, a Dutch economist Peter Nijkamp was embroiled in an academic plagiarism scandal. With respect to methods for discouraging plagiarism, the most commonly used prevention strategy for plagiarism in Netherlands and Germany is the use of online plagiarism detection tools. In Germany, the use of a plagiarism checker together with the threat of sanction is a notable deterrent. In both the local and national levels in Netherlands, the use of software for plagiarism detection in thesis work is an integrated part of the model for systematic support of thesis production process in institutions.
In 2002, a series of articles by the German Spiegel newspaper attracted a lot of attention about a widespread "plagiarism" culture at German universities. Debora Weber-Wulff, professor in Berlin, emphasized the extent to which the sense of injustice among German students and lecturers is pronounced. What would be regarded as a minor offense in Germany at the best could lead to expulsion from an American university. Weber-Wulff has also written instructions for the detection of plagiarism using raw data provided by an originality checker.
However, in Germany, there are no institution wide policies against plagiarism, thus, it cannot be effective. In 2006, Sebastian Sattler interviewed 226 sociology students on the subject of plagiarism. He tested works by 159 students and found plagiarism in 19.5% of the works. In another questionnaire-supported part of the study, it was found that nearly one in five had already plagiarized during their studies and a little more than every second in school. The work shows that plagiarism is caused by the lack of scientific skills and the lack of a plagiarism checker to control students.
Plagiarism was defined as follows: "Plagiarisms are an intended direct or indirect transfer of third-party content. These contents can be arguments, explanations, facts, interpretations, discoveries, conclusions, source lists or the structure of another work. It does not matter where these components come from. They can already be published or still unpublished, which means that the homework of other students is also questionable. A plagiarism is to be spoken when a strange thought or a quotation is not made visible." (Sattler 2007)
In Netherlands, there has been developments in policies regarding plagiarism or academic integrity, however these initiatives normally focus on post-doctoral and postgraduate levels. Additionally, in Netherlands and Germany, even after strong preventative measures have been taken and robust procedures and policies have been applied strictly, plagiarism still remains a threat to academic standards. As a result, there will always be a need to remain vigilant and to react to evolving and new threats adapting widespread use of originality checkers or plagiarism detectors. Therefore, there is a need for academicians and public figures in both countries to set a good example to everyone about what particularly constitutes good practice in research and writing. Understanding what plagiarism is, how to prevent is using a checker, and what can be deemed as acceptable academic practice should be at the forefront of institutions in both countries, as this will play a key part in tackling academic dishonesty.
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