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Original Article
6 (
2
); 44-48
doi:
10.25259/JISH_14_2023

A survey regarding awareness of ‘plagiarism while writing articles’ among students and faculty members of Indian colleges/universities

Department of Homoeopathic Pharmacy, Bakson Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH), Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, New Delhi, India
Corresponding author: Prof. Meenakshi Ambwani, Department of Homoeopathic Pharmacy, Bakson Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. ambwani.drmeenakshi@gmail.com
Licence
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, transform, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.

How to cite this article: Ambwani M, Nayak C. A survey regarding awareness of ‘plagiarism while writing articles’ among students and faculty members of Indian colleges/universities. J Intgr Stand Homoeopathy 2023;6:44-8.

Abstract

Objectives:

Originality concerning scientific and research publications is of vital importance in this day and age and must be protected. With literary piracy reaching celestial heights in recent times, ethics must be maintained so that research integrity prevails. Plagiarism ranges from copying a few words to entire paragraphs and even ideas. The contribution(s) of the original author are not mentioned, not even using in-text citations. Plagiarism occurs largely due to the writer’s ignorance, but may be deliberate on occasion. The aim of the study was to understand the level of awareness among students and faculty members of Indian colleges/universities about plagiarism and its related aspects while writing and publishing articles.

Materials and Methods:

A virtual cross-sectional survey was conducted on students and faculty members using Google Forms. A 20-item self-administered questionnaire was framed by the authors after an extensive review of the literature and circulated through various WhatsApp groups to extract information from the participants about causes of plagiarism, paraphrasing, money-oriented publication agencies, plagiarism checker software and preventive measures.

Results:

Of 63 total respondents, 93.7% of participants were just aware of the term plagiarism in relation to writing papers and research articles, although 54% admitted that they had never written an article.

Conclusion:

The overall analysis highlighted that around 93% of responders had preliminary knowledge about plagiarism, but were still unaware of the seriousness of the problem and its grave consequences. Extensive campaigning and workshops need to be conducted to guide writers about the rules of publication ethics to prevent such malpractice.

Keywords

Plagiarism
Copying
Ethics
Penalty
Cyber plagiarism

INTRODUCTION

Plagiarism in day-to-day life is understood as a person using someone else’s thoughts and/or words, including them in their work and making the world believe that the matter is original.[1] Misrepresentation and hiding of text that is crucial in establishing the final outcome of a research study must be given importance while understanding the scope of plagiarism.[2] The committee on publication ethics clearly describes the malpractice of plagiarism. Thus: ‘Plagiarism ranges from the unreferenced use of others’ published and unpublished ideas, including research grant applications to submission under ‘new’ authorship of a complete paper, sometimes in a different language. It may occur at any stage of planning, research, writing or publication. It applies to print and electronic versions.’[3]

There are many causes of plagiarism. Some authors are ignorant about language and writing skills; they do not know what to cite and how to cite.[4] However, many authors deliberately indulge in shortcut methods, including literary theft and get their articles published in predatory journals to meet the cutoff dates, contributing to the rising trend.[4]

The practice of getting involved in copying and stealing another person’s work for personal benefit has become easier in the current digital era where computers, smartphones and tablets are very common and the information is available at the click of a button.[4,5]

Some authors resort to plagiarism as they are under pressure to seek funds. Research organisations provide scholarships/ schemes whereby companies/institutions can sponsor candidates to undertake research studies and ultimately obtain monetary profits through funds from research organisations.[4] Others get lured by the fame[6] that comes with publications, they are often tempted by the possibility of promotions,[7] increased pay and better job prospects.[8]

Plagiarism is scientific misconduct and a breach of copyright rules. The authors committing plagiarism can be punished for their acts.[4,5] Many softwares, paid and free, are available using which the authors can detect the percentage of plagiarism in their articles and correct it before sending the article for publication.[9]

Academic and research settings usually use the term ‘Plagiarism’, especially while conducting research and preferably during writing a manuscript. However, the term carries a much deeper knowledge with respect to its causes, different types, legal implications, detection tools and prevention techniques; every student, faculty member and researcher must know before publishing his article.

Students are often immature and it is difficult for them to grasp the concept of research statistics during their college life; they therefore end up copying matter from others’ works to make their own.[10] This present study was undertaken to explore and understand the level of knowledge and awareness that Indian students and faculty members possess about the topic ‘Plagiarism while writing articles’.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

A pilot survey was conducted from 10 to 17 February 2022 to understand the level of awareness among the students and faculty members of Indian colleges/universities on the topic ‘Plagiarism while writing articles’. A 20-item self-administered questionnaire was developed by the authors and circulated online on different WhatsApp groups through mobile phone media. A Google form was created and the questionnaire was made in English with multiple choice questions and short answer type questions, the entire form required 8–10 min to complete.

The questionnaire had two sections: the first collected participants’ demographic information and the second determined the views of participants on plagiarism.

A random sampling technique was used and a note was attached explaining the aim of the survey and ensuring data confidentiality. A total of 63 individuals participated in the survey and their participation was considered their consent. Inclusion criteria for the survey were students and faculty members of Indian colleges/universities, of both sexes and age groups between 18 and 65 years.

The responses of the participants were collected on Google drive and recorded in the form of graphs.

RESULTS

A total of 63 participants filled up the forms and their responses were recorded and analysed.

Demographic data

Among the surveyed participants, 50.8% of responders were aged 18–25 years and 42.9% were aged 26–35 years. About 77.8% of participants were female, while 22.2% were male. The majority of the individuals (92.1%) who participated in the survey were mostly residing in urban residential areas, while 7.9% were from rural backgrounds. In this survey, 88.9% of students with different educational background participated whereas 7.9% of responders were faculty members of different colleges/universities [Table 1].

Table 1: Demographic data.
n(%)
Age
  18–25 years 32 (50.8)
  26–35 years 27 (42.9)
  36–45 years 3 (4.8)
  46–55 years 1 (1.6)
  56–65 years Nil
Sex
  Male 14 (22.2)
  Female 49 (77.8)
  Prefer not to say Nil
Occupation
  Student 56 (88.9)
  Faculty 5 (7.9)
  Others 2 (3.2)
Residential address
  Urban 58 (92.1)
  Rural 5 (7.9)

Title of survey: Plagiarism for writing articles. The survey questions are given in [Table 2].

DISCUSSION

The present study tries to understand the level of awareness among the students and faculty members of Indian colleges/ universities with regard to the concept of plagiarism. Teachers and students write articles that have been specified as per the Council and even University Grants Commission norms but, due to lack of knowledge on the subject and lack of creativity and originality, many of them do not follow the rules of publication and often copy others’ texts to increase their number of publications. The practice of writing starts in childhood and while doing school homework, a student has to search and compose assignments or even do summer holiday works/projects. With Internet and social media access, students copy text, images etc. directly from Google. Searching and copying from internet websites amounts to cyber plagiarism of which students and many faculties lack awareness.

Table 2: Survey questionnaire on awareness of plagiarism for students and faculty members of different Indian colleges/universities.
S. No. Questions Options Responses (%)
1. Are you aware of word PLAGIARISM in relation to writing articles/research papers? Yes
No
Can’t say
59 (93.7)
3 (4.8)
1 (1.6)
2. Specify your source of information about Plagiarism. Students
Teachers
Research expert or Statistician
Conference or Seminar
Books or Journals
Others
2 (3.2)
26 (41.3)
9 (14.3)
6 (9.5)
13 (20.6)
7 (11.1)
3. Do you have any previous experience of writing and publishing article? Yes
No
Can’t say
26 (41.3)
34 (54)
3 (4.8)
4. Did you fill the copyright form before getting your article published in the magazine/journal/book? Yes
No
Can’t say
12 (19)
33 (52.4)
18 (28.6)
5. In your opinion, what is ‘PLAGIARISM’? Answer has to be written in 2–3 lines by the participant
6. As per your knowledge, what can be the cause of plagiarism among writers? Vast knowledge and good command on language for writers
Lack of awareness as to what is plagiarism
Time constraints so using internet easy available information
Both 1, 2
Both 2, 3
Both 1, 3
2 (3.2)
5 (7.9)
4 (6.3)
4 (6.3)
39 (61.9)
9 (14.3)
7. Do you think source books must be mentioned in references if text/words/statements are copied directly from a book? Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
61 (96.8)
2 (3.2)
Nil
8. Do you think permission of original author is still required to avoid falling under plagiarism context if the new author changes the sequence of words, uses synonyms, paraphrases the text? Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
44 (69.8)
16 (25.4)
3 (4.8)
9. In case, the author has to borrow a large quantity of matter from another article. Use bracket for copied text
Use quotation marks for copied text
Use asterisk at end of text
Use @ at start of text
14 (22.2)
31 (49.2)
13 (20.6)
5 (7.9)
10. Plagiarism can be intentional, deliberately done. Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
29 (46)
12 (19)
22 (34.9)
11. There is no harm in copying an author’s idea from his article and using it without acknowledging him as topics for writing are very less in number. Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
7 (11.1)
45 (71.4)
11 (17.5)
12. Does a writer require to acknowledge his own work/article /research study already published previously while writing his next article from it? Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
44 (69.8)
6 (9.5)
13 (20.6)
13. Downloading matters/audios/videos from websites and not recognising the source is acceptable as information is freely available on the internet. Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
20 (31.7)
31 (49.2)
12 (19)
14. Plagiarism is an ethical and moral issue. Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
59 (93.7)
4 (6.3)
Nil
15. Inexperienced, new author can get their articles/research study written from a publication agency on some fees due to lack of writing skills. Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
35 (55.6)
15 (23.8)
13 (20.6)
16. Same article written by a writer can be published in different magazines/journal/newsletter. Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
43 (68.3)
9 (14.3)
11 (17.5)
17. Do you think penalties are justified for plagiarist writers for small amounts of work or research study? Agree
Disagree
Can’t say
31 (49.2)
13 (20.6)
19 (30.2)
18. Do you think which is the most effective measure to prevent writers from undertaking plagiarism from the root level? Giving penalties to send message to all
Use of plagiarism software checker by author himself
Create awareness and educating both student and faculty member
Nil
17 (27)
46 (73)
19. Which of the following is a plagiarism checker software? SPSS
Zotero
Turnitin
Mendeley
10 (15.9)
12 (19)
37 (58.7)
4 (6.3)
20. Plagiarism detection software cannot detect : Text similarity
Data for statistical analysis
Duplicate or mosaic (patch work publication)
Idea similarity
5 (7.9)
13 (20.6)
5 (7.9)
40 (63.5)

The market is flooded with different publication agencies that hire experts so that they can prepare good articles on different topics. These agencies make attractive advertisements to lure the students. Experts convert the article to suit the requirement of the buyer on the basis of monetary payment.

Most of the responders are students in the age group of 18– 25 years and still in the learning phase. It is therefore necessary to make them aware of the ethics of scientific writing as many admitted that they had never written an article in their lifetime. Workshops and seminars are crucial to alert the academic community about the need for publishing original text for the progress of a field. The saying ‘Publish or Perish’ correctly applies here.

Among the participants, 52.4% of participants admitted as per the survey that they have never written an article and even those who have written articles, few only have filled the copyright forms during publication. Many local magazines do not get copyright forms signed by authors. They simply receive articles from authors and publish them. During submission of an article, some authors want to get their article published in different journals for their wider publicity, they send the same article to various journals at the same time, that is however considered as breach of ethics. All this can occur due to lack of knowledge about the rules of plagiarism. To the question ‘What is Plagiarism?’ posed to the survey participants, majority of them gave feedback on copying, theft of text or idea and piracy reflecting that they had a preliminary knowledge about Plagiarism. Different aspects on the topic of Plagiarism were not highlighted by the participants; even though Plagiarism is considered a vast subject and must be known by all before sending articles for publication. About 46% of participants agreed that plagiarism is intentional and deliberately done.

Regarding self-plagiarism, where a writer cites his own published work, 69.8% agreed to the point that they can copy from their own published article and there is no need to cite themselves. For the question, in case, the author has to borrow a large quantity of matter from another article, 49.2% chose the option of using quotation marks. However, 22.2% chose to apply brackets and even 20.6% agreed with the usage of an asterisk sign. The result of the survey highlights that although most respondents knew about the guidelines, many still do not have correct information on plagiarism rules. About 73% admitted that the most effective measure to prevent writers from adopting plagiarism is to create awareness and educate them.

Among the participants, 58.7% knew that Turnitin is a plagiarism detection software; however, 19% said Zotero and 15.9% chose the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) option that are not plagiarism detection tools. People must be made aware of these software for their use. Experts must be involved that can explain the working of these software that will ultimately prove beneficial for all.

CONCLUSION

Plagiarism has always been a plaque, but it has been spreading like wildfire in the scientific world. The reality must be dealt seriously with by explaining the concept to students and teachers from school itself as copy-paste from books/internet starts during the preparation of their school assignments.[3] Extensive campaigning against plagiarism may help limit the spread along with full enforcement of the law for copyright violations will help in removing the clouds of ignorance prevalent about the topic.[3]

Attitude must be changed; the urge to deal with dishonest work needs to be tackled by the persons themselves by presenting original works and avoiding the use of incorrect or immoral shortcuts.

The present survey has a limitation of using a small sample size. It is recommended that a survey must be conducted on a larger sample size to address the issue in future. Furthermore, the study can be done on different fields such as medical, engineering students and faculty.

Acknowledgment

The authors acknowledge Dr. Saurav Arora, an independent researcher and homeopathic practitioner for his constant support, cooperation and guidance in the revision of the manuscript. We are also grateful to the respondents who participated in the survey.

Declaration of patient consent

Patient’s consent not required as there are no patients in this study.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

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