Fight plagiarism by promoting a culture of honesty, creativity

Sarwat Nasir
Filed on March 31, 2019 | Last updated on March 31, 2019 at 11.34 pm
Fight plagiarism by promoting a culture of honesty, creativity

Educators in the UAE have said that plagiarism is a growing issue in schools and universities.

It's no secret that, today, 'Google it' is the immediate solution to our most pressing questions. Unfortunately, people's dependency on the worldwide web seems to be putting students' digital ethics and academic integrity into question.

Educators in the UAE have said that plagiarism is a growing issue in schools and universities.

Most academic institutions in the country use programmes such as 'Turnitin', which scans each piece of writing for potential plagiarism. However, this isn't stopping students from heavily paraphrasing online content into their work or even risking getting caught through the programme.

A teacher at Sharjah Indian School, Latha Narasimhan, said: "Plagiarism in schools and colleges have become common as the Internet offers an exhaustive and never-ending range of information access that is very difficult for youngsters to resist as they are used to shortcuts and technology dependence.

"Among the reasons why plagiarism is resorted to are the time constraint for project submissions and the overwhelming assignments that students find difficult to complete."

Critical thinking vs research

Narasimhan believes that a way to handle plagiarism is to "devise projects and assignments that rely on original expression".

She said spontaneous expression and critical thinking should be encouraged among students, as well as on-the-spot exercises, rather than projects that demand only a lot of research and extensive training.

"Plagiarism may not be done deliberately, but it happens unconsciously at times. Lack of imagination and resourcefulness on the part of educators while assigning projects could result in plagiarism," she said.

"Efforts should be taken to devise out-of-the-box projects and assignments that call for the utilisation of analytical and thinking faculties. Creativity needs to be encouraged as the acknowledgement of creative thinking needs a different mind-set and an open-minded attitude."

The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) held a discussion forum last month to shed light on this issue.

They gathered educators, researchers and students to "promote a culture of integrity across schools and university campuses in the region". "Academic integrity is the foundation upon which the entire education sector stands," said Dr Zeenath Reza Khan, head of integrity research group at the UOWD and chair for the 2019 roadshow.

"It, therefore, becomes our responsibility to engage the entire community in a dialogue, so that we can come together to raise awareness and collectively find ways to instil integrity in our students."

Students have also spoken out against plagiarism and cheating in classrooms, with many saying that it's unfair to pupils who put in the hard work.

Krista Fidelia, a Grade 10 student at Al Diyafah High School, said: "Personally, I feel that plagiarism is a very serious issue that must be tackled immediately and effectively. Students must come to the realisation that copying someone else's works and presenting them as their own will not get them anywhere.

"Schools and universities should encourage students to cite their sources and use quotation marks to show that a phrase or a sentence has been taken from another source. Another way to prevent plagiarism is a method my English teacher keeps telling me, which is paraphrasing. This way, you show that you have understood the concept and you are not copying anyone."

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