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Why Do Students Plagiarize?

This articles helps educators understand why students plagiarize.

As an instructor, if your desire is to help your students turn in honest academic work, then you must understand the real reasons behind plagiarism. 


Reasons for student committing plagiarism

The first and primary reason is simply that most students do not know what plagiarism is. They have an incorrect perception that whatever is shared in the public domain is common property.

Therefore, the first step to countering plagiarism is increasing awareness of what it is and what students can do to stay away from plagiarizing their work. 


Another driving force for plagiarism is the need to be “excellent” in their work, due to peer or parental pressure. Pressure to perform at higher levels than their competence, makes students copy from other sources and claim it as their own.  

Working with students to improve their skills and support their studies and reassuring their confidence in their abilities will help them avoid intentional plagiarism.


A major reason for students resorting to plagiarism is poor time management skills. Sometimes, students lack research skills or are unable to find appropriate material to compile their work. This can tempt them to quickly find some content online and incorporate it into their work as their own so that they can mark it as complete.  

Help your students to do realistic time assessments and work effort estimations. This will help them plan their work better and check for any plagiarism in their academic work.


Another reason students plagiarize is that they do not value the work they are doing. If the work being done does not count towards their grades chances are that they will not give it the needed attention, therefore copying another person’s work and using it as their own becomes a convenient choice.  

A good approach to such instances is to help the students understand that their academic exercise will help them develop their research skills, problem-solving and analytical skills and help them grow in perseverance and commitment


The level of interest in what is being done also determines the student’s level of commitment. Since students are faced with several choices, they tend to put their efforts and time into those things that capture their interest.

A practical approach to addressing this problem would be to offer students topics that they find interesting so that they can stay motivated to complete the assignment on their own. 


Finally, there will be some students who will intentionally plagiarize. This may arise from just the thrill of rebellion or because they are extremely carefree. They may hold the belief that information should remain free to all and can be shared freely.

So, students should be made to abide by the school’s guidance framework for all their academic work; this will help them to be careful to fall into plagiarism, whether in school or off-school. 


Remember, you hold the key to helping students appreciate their own work efforts, as well as others.

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Call to Action

You should make your student be aware of the seriousness of plagiarism by taking a strong stance against it in your school.

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