Why is it important to avoid plagiarism in higher education Essay




ASSESSMENT QUESTION: Write a paper of a minimum of 750 words on the following topic: Why is it important to avoid plagiarism in Higher Education and how might text-matching software help?

A brief summary of the essay is explained. It begins with definitions of higher education and plagiarism. Moving forward, it highlights the significance of avoiding plagiarism and raises the question whether plagiarism can be eradicated or people are becoming experts on how to plagiarize without been caught. The essay reviews existing text-matching software but still admitting their limitations in the fight against plagiarism. Finally, the essay comes to an end with a conclusion.

In defining higher education, (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1998), describes it as “all types of studies, training or training for research at the post-secondary level, provided by universities or other educational establishments that are approved as institutions of higher education by the competent State authorities”. Higher education offers students the opportunity to pursue and study a subject of interest after high school. It is a chance to challenge oneself, grow as an individual, become independent, learn good life morals such as respect for others, know your strengths, weaknesses, and improve employability. Due to numerous courses a student has to do in higher education, it can be overwhelming with lots to do with little time. Sadly, this can result to plagiarism. Moving on, what exactly is plagiarism and why is it necessary to avoid it in higher education?

According to (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003), “Plagiarism occurs when a writer uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common-knowledge) material without acknowledging its source”. Students tend to plagiarize due to lack of confidence, poor time management, inability to express their ideas grammatically and little understanding of how to incorporate other people ideas and words into assignments. It is vital to avoid plagiarism because of the following reasons.

i. It prevents personal development: such as developing personal writing style.

ii. It increases laziness towards learning.

iii. When a student plagiarizes, it shows lack of understanding and poor moral ethics such as integrity, honesty, determination, etc.

iv. Closes the opportunity of creating new ideas and contributing something new in the field of education.

v. Dependency: prevents students from having the ability to think for themselves because they rely on other people’s ideas. Higher education is an opportunity to find one’s identity and voice, at the end this vital lesson cannot be achieved due to constant dependency.

The invention of paraphrasing tools also referred to as Internet-based conversion poises a serious question whether plagiarism can be eradicated or are students becoming experts on how to plagiarize without been caught? Paraphrasing tools are online tools students can use to rewrite text such as essays, articles, etc. The idea is to get any piece of writing, paste it online and within minutes changes the words. According to (Somers, 2012), “Internet-based conversion and translation tools are easily accessible, and a number of versions are available to all without cost”. Such tools are: QuillBot, Dupli Checker, Article Rewriter Tool, EZ Rewriter, WordFlood, (Unicheck Team, 2016). The point still remains that taking another author’s work, using paraphrasing tools and owing the processed material without acknowledging the author is still plagiarism but just a smarter way of preventing detection.

In defining text-matching software, (Jeremy, 2014), describes it as ”Text matching software compares electronically submitted assignments against a database of documents. Depending on the software, this database might include some or all of: other assignments, webpages, and other documents like scientific journal articles”. It is of great importance to understand that text-matching software also referred to similarity index software detects and highlights similar texts in a paper even if it is cited and quoted properly. An originality report is produced after using text-matching software is used. The instructor is left to determine whether the submitted material is plagiarized. Presently, there are different text-matching software used around the world with distinctive search methods. Examples of the software are: Turnitin. EVE2(Essay Verification Engine), WordCheck Keyword, HowOriginal.com, CopyCatch Gold, Safe assignment, etc.

According to (Turnitin, 2019), “Turnitin was founded in 1998 by four universities. It is the most popular text-matching software, boosts of more than 30 million student users at 15",000 institutions in 150 countries”. It can pickup when students attempt to mislead instructors by changing words, adding sentences, or reorganizing their papers (Paynter & Mills, 2003). One of the uniqueness of this tool is the ability to store student’s submission for future checking. This in return increases it’s database over time. Therefore, the more data stored, the higher the capability of checking even though the material is 20 years old. Bull et al (2001), this tool is the only tool that detects when a cut and paste occurs in a material. The tool lacks the ability to detect whether a table, figures, diagrams used inside a text is authentic or plagiarized. A research was taken by (Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017), to see whether Turnitin can detect a text that have been processed through a paraphrasing tool. The result showed the inability for the software to detect it was paraphrased.

Text-matching software have a significant future impact on the fight against plagiarism. Instructors are advised to raise awareness on integrity and independency. It is of great value students understand the courses rather than spend time trying to use paraphrasing tools to deter plagiarism. The world is in constant need of new ideas, improvement and research. One should choose to contribute positively rather than reusing ideas without progression.


Bull, J., Collins, C., Coughlin, E., Sharp, D., (2001), Technical review of plagiarism detection software report, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247703683_Technical_Review_of_Plagiarism_Detection_Software_Report , Accessed 1st February 2019.

Council of Writing Program Administrators, (2003). Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices, http://www.wpacouncil.org/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf , Accessed 31 January 2019.

Jeremy, F., (2014). Using text matching software to detect and deter plagiarism, https://dynamicecology.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/plagiarism-and-text-matching-software/ , Accessed 1 February 2019.

Paynter, J, Mills, C.J, (2003), Academic Plagiarism: An Analysis of Current Technological Issue, https://www.orsnz.org.nz/conf39/Papers/PaynterJ.pdf , Accessed 1 February 2019.

Rogerson, A.M, McCarthy, G (2017), Using Internet based paraphrasing tools: Original work, patchwriting or facilitated plagiarism?. International Journal for Educational Integrity. 13. 10.1007/s40979-016-0013-y.

Somers, H., “Computer-assisted language learning and machine translation. The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics”, Blackwell Publishing Limited, (2012): (1-9), https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40979-016-0013-y#citeas , Accessed 31 January 2019.

Turnitin, (2019). History, https://www.turnitin.com/about , Accessed 1 February 2019.

Unicheck Team, (2016). Paraphrasing Software to avoid Plagiarism Turns to Be of Great Help, https://unicheck.com/blog/paraphrasing-software-to-avoid-plagiarism , Accessed 31 January 2019.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, (1998). World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century: Vision and Action, http://www.un-documents.net/wdhe21c.htm#A , Accessed 31 January 2019.

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