Towards Consistency and Transparency in Academic Integrity

by Salim Razı (Volume editor) Irene Glendinning (Volume editor) Tomáš Foltýnek (Volume editor)
Conference proceedings XII, 254 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Section 1: Students’ and Teachers’ Perspectives on Academic Integrity Issues
  • English Language Teaching Students’ Attitudes towards Plagiarism and their Locus of Control (Billur Yıldırım / Salim Razı)
  • The Student Voice: What We Know About the Students’ Perspective of Academic Integrity (Clare Johnson / Mike Reddy)
  • Plagiarism in the South African Higher Education System: Discarding a Common-Sense Understanding (Amanda Martha Matee Mphahlele / Sioux McKenna)
  • Plagiarism in Kosovo and its Perception in Kosovo and Albania Society (Dukagjin Leka / Bajram Kosumi)
  • A Case Study of Plagiarism in Higher Education: Students’ Awareness, Information Sources, and Reasons (Elham Golzar Adabi / Dilek Pecenek / Markus Pissarek)
  • Insights into University Students’ Perceptions about Plagiarism (Muhammad Ramzan / Muhammad Asif / Hina Adeeb)
  • Students and Teachers’ Perceptions about Academic Dishonesty at a University in Pakistan (Muhammad Shahbaz)
  • Section 2: Pedagogical Aspects of Academic Integrity Policies
  • Integrity Management in High Schools: Paving a Way to Misconduct? (Loreta Tauginienė / Inga Gaižauskaitė)
  • Micro-Level Policies and Practices Regarding Plagiarism in Advanced Reading and Writing Courses in Turkey (Ali Erarslan / Ece Zehir Topkaya)
  • Academic Integrity Skill Development amongst the Faculty at a Swedish University (Sonja Bjelobaba)
  • Challenges and Solutions for Academic Integrity in Mass Communication Education in Pakistani Universities (Fahad Mahmood)
  • Teaching About Plagiarism at Higher Education Level (Ivana Hebrang Grgić)
  • Plagiarism and Artefacts: A Phenomenon of Neglected Ethics (Mamoona Khan / Aalia Sohail Khan)
  • Section 3: Essay Mills and Contract Cheating
  • Global Essay Mills Survey in Czechia: Insights into the Cheater’s Mind (Veronika Králíková / Tomáš Foltýnek / Jana Dannhoferová / Dita Dlabolová / Pavel Turčínek)
  • Whose Work Is It Anyway? Exploring the Existence of Contract Cheating in the UAE Context (Zeenath Reza Khan / Sabiha Mumtaz / Priyanka Hemnani / Sanjana Raheja)
  • Section 4: Integrity Issues Related to Research and Publication
  • Challenges in Publishing at Newly-established Universities in Kosovo and Macedonia (Sabiha Shala / Dukagjin Leka / Mimoza Hyseni)
  • Academic Integrity and Quality of Research in Higher Education: Inclination and Confrontation for Young Scholars (Adeela Rehman)
  • Perspectives on the Role of University Libraries in Preventing Plagiarism among Research Scholars (Faiqa Mansoor / Kanwal Ameen)

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Section 1:
Students’ and Teachers’ Perspectives on Academic Integrity Issues

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Billur Yıldırım1 & Salim Razı2

Uludağ University, Turkey & Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey

English Language Teaching Students’ Attitudes towards Plagiarism and their Locus of Control

Abstract: Any relationship between personal locus of control and attitudes towards plagiarism may offer pedagogical insights since the locus of control may change through instruction and training. This study aims to investigate departmental policy on plagiarism, reveal student opinions about plagiarism, and discover any correlation between attitudes to plagiarism, academic externalization, and academic success. The participants were 58 under- and post-graduates and three lecturers in the English Language Teaching Department of a Turkish state university. The data were collected via two scales and semi-constructed interviews. The data revealed that the students did not hold positive values towards plagiarism, despite a significant difference between undergraduates’ and post-graduates’ opinions and significant correlations among variables. Qualitative data showed that the students consider plagiarism as resulting mostly from contextual factors as well as a few individual factors. It is noteworthy that necessary precautions against plagiarism proposed by the student and instructor interviewees match each other, and also suggestions made on how to eliminate these factors.

Keywords: Attitudes to plagiarism, externalization, locus of control, plagiarism


There has been growing interest in research on plagiarism, which is basically defined as using “words, ideas, or work products attributable to another identifiable person or source without attributing the work to the source from which it was obtained … to obtain some benefit” (Fishman, 2009, p. 5). Institutional academic integrity policies may take the “intention” into consideration. Therefore, it is important to examine these concepts with the various types of plagiarism. Plagiarism that emerges due to lack of academic literacy or linguistic deficiencies is categorised as unintentional plagiarism; while that conducted on purpose, such as paying someone else for an assignment, is defined as serious intentional ← 3 | 4 → plagiarism (Grigg, 2010). However, the wide array of definitions reveals that plagiarism cannot be defined merely with a dual categorization, since there are sometimes contextual reasons (Löfström & Kupila, 2013) behind it. Moreover, types of plagiarism vary, such as unauthorised collaboration (McCabe, 2005) or self-plagiarism (Bretag & Carapiet, 2007).

When all the varied perceptions are considered, it seems necessary to construct a shared definition and understand students’ perceptions of plagiarism at the higher education (HE) level. As Lakoff and Johnson (1980) put it, the metaphors used in studies referring to the plagiarism concept reflect the negative perceptions of plagiarism, such as “sin” (Bombaro, 2007, p. 296), “fraud, excessive repetition” (Howard, 2000, p. 475), “theft” (Robillard, 2009, p. 406), and “Pandora’s Box” (Sutherland-Smith, 2005, p. 83).

Despite the negative connotations that plagiarism creates in western academia (e.g., Rets & Ilya, 2018), Share (2006) proposes a different, intertextuality perspective, which requires dealing with plagiarism in regard to the cultural and contextual variations in text interpretation and construction. It is also claimed that academic behaviour is extensively determined by the values of the academic community (Payne & Nantz, 1994). For instance, more students tend to plagiarise if lecturers neglect to review their assignments (Burnett, 2002), whereupon students’ perceptions of plagiarism gradually resemble those of their instructors (Sims, 1995).

Underlying Roots of Plagiarism

The relevant research highlights the impact of both contextual and individualistic factors on students’ attitudes towards plagiarism. The effects of contextual factors on their attitudes are various. Both institutional policies and lecturers’ strategies on plagiarism exert an impact on student attitudes regarding plagiarism (Comas-Forgas & Sureda-Negre, 2010). Also, students’ attitudes apparently contain traces of their home cultures (McCabe, Feghali, & Abdallah, 2008). Provided that the students continue their study in the same education system, level of the programme (Stănescu & Iorga, 2013) appear to create a significant difference between the attitudes of undergraduates and postgraduate students, and the discipline (Yeo, 2007) seems to have a role in differentiating the attitudes of students. Contextual factors such as time constraints may encourage students to plagiarise, despite their generally negative attitude towards it (Eret & Gokmenoglu, 2010). Consequently, attitudes towards plagiarism and the social or academic context may be linked. ← 4 | 5 →

In addition to contextual factors, several studies indicate that individual differences may influence a tendency towards plagiarism. For example, a low level of foreign language proficiency may be linked to unintentional plagiarism (Eret & Gokmenoglu, 2010). Regardless of language proficiency, some socio-cultural genre-based studies also demonstrate a lack of academic literacy as a factor in plagiarism and the need for instruction in academic skills (Abasi & Graves, 2008). Academic achievement in relation to plagiarism has also been investigated to see if there was any correlation; however, no direct connection was detected (Siaputra, 2013).

Granitz and Loewy’s (2007) study on the ethical theories employed by students to justify their acts of plagiarism revealed that the most common are deontology (behaving as if they were not aware of what they did), situational ethics (following different codes in different situations), and Machiavellian reasoning (taking the opportunity to plagiarise and blaming others if they are exposed).

Studies on the link between personality factors and attitudes to plagiarism have generated similar results except for a few conflicting examples. Although some studies indicate no significant association of attitudes towards plagiarism with certain personality traits (Lewis & Zhong, 2011); in general, a link between personality and academic dishonesty tendencies has been supported (Siaputra, 2013; Stănescu & Iorga, 2013). Anomia, defined as lack of integrity in social life (Caruana, Ramaseshan & Ewing, 2000), seeking excitement, absence of conscientiousness (De Bruin & Rudnick, 2007), and narcissism (Menon & Sharland, 2011) are among the factors which may be linked with academic integrity and plagiarism. Academic locus of control and tendencies towards plagiarism have also been shown to be factors associated with self-efficacy (Yesilyurt, 2014); nevertheless, a direct link between locus of control and attitudes regarding plagiarism has not yet been studied.

Some personality trait associations may be pedagogically problematic since instructional precautions cannot alter them, such as with narcissism. However, others may be tackled with covert programme alterations and direct training. One of these is the student’s locus of control, which refers to an individual’s beliefs about the possibility of control over their lives. People tend to belong to two groups, externalisers and internalisers, regarding their locus of control. Externalisers believe they cannot change what happens to them in life; therefore, they assume fate or external factors direct their lives. In contrast, Internalisers believe that their own actions can change their lives (Rotter, 1966). ← 5 | 6 →

Aims of Study

Locus of control can be altered with training or education (Hill, 2011). Thus, discovering any possible relationship between attitudes towards plagiarism and externalization may have pedagogical implications. However, the relevant research lacks a study that investigates such a relationship in the Turkish context.

Relevant literature (e.g. Comas-Forgas & Sureda-Negre, 2010; Payne & Nantz, 1994) reveals that student tendencies are under the impact of context and institutional policies; therefore, discovering attitudes towards plagiarism in specific contexts may help in interpreting how they are connected to each other. The views of language teachers are particularly important as their outlook may influence the intertextuality of foreign language learners. Accordingly, the purpose of this descriptive case study is threefold: (1) to investigate implicit departmental policy regarding plagiarism; (2) to reveal students’ attitudes towards plagiarism; and (3) to discover any possible correlation between attitudes to plagiarism, academic externalization, and academic success.


Setting and Participants

The data were collected from an English Language Teaching (ELT) Department with both BA and MA programmes at a state university in Bursa, Turkey. The students are admitted to the department according to their score in the centralised university entrance assessment process. The department offers courses where aspects of plagiarism are taught to sophomores as a module in their research skills course and postgraduate students as a regulation by the Council of Higher Education to prevent unintentional plagiarism.

Table 1: Demographic Information of Participants

*GPA: Grade point average

As illustrated in Table 1, there were a total of 58 student participants whose ages ranged from 18 to 40. All participants were selected from among those who declared that they had heard about plagiarism before; thus, they were considered ← 6 | 7 → to have developed attitudes towards plagiarism. As Table 2 demonstrates, formal lectures and informal talks by lecturers were identified as the main sources of learners’ familiarization with plagiarism.

Table 2: Means of Plagiarism Familiarisation

In addition to collecting data via a questionnaire, 8 of the student participants (undergrad: nmale = 1, nfemale = 2; postgrad: nmale = 1, nfemale = 4) and 3 female instructors, two of whom lecture in both graduate and MA programmes while one lectures only in the graduate programme, were interviewed to enable triangulation.

Data Collection Tools

To identify students’ attitudes about plagiarism, the Attitudes Towards Plagiarism scale (ATP – Mavrinac, Brumini, Bilić-Zulle & Petrovečki, 2010) was used. ATP consists of three factors, namely, a ‘positive attitude towards plagiarism (PAP)’, ‘negative attitude towards plagiarism (NAP)’, and ‘subjective norms towards plagiarism (SNP)’. The items under PAP do not consider plagiarism as misconduct whereas the items under NAP indicate that plagiarism is not acceptable under any circumstances. Additionally, the items under SNP illustrate excuses used by plagiarisers to defend their behavioural misconduct. Those excuses are mostly contextual. The present study obtained reliable Cronbach alpha values for each section of the instrument (PAP, α = .70; NAP, α = .75; SNP, α = .82).

PAP and SNP are expected to positively correlate, while PAP and NAP are supposed to negatively correlate (Mavrinac, Brumini, Bilić-Zulle, & Petrovečki, 2010). PAP establishes that the participant has a positive attitude that considers plagiarism as an unimportant incident. NAP consists of items that reveal a personal disapproval of plagiarism. SNP however, includes items that are expected to positively correlate with PAP and reflect a perceived acceptance of plagiarism in the academic community.

To find out students’ direction of locus of control, the participants were asked to answer Trice’s (1985) Academic Locus of Control Scale for College Students ← 7 | 8 → (ALCSCS), consisting of 28 dichotomous items (True / False). The items were coded in the direction of externalization (EXT) so that a higher score indicates a higher level of externalization. ALCSCS was chosen as it is the only locus of control scale created for university students, and more exact results are obtained regarding locus of control with instruments designed for specific fields rather than general behaviour (Rotter, 1975).

Semi-constructed interview sessions with 8 students and 3 instructors were initiated with two sets of questions and inter-coder reliability was ensured by an independent rater.

Data Collection and Analysis

The data were collected through to the end of the 2016–2017 academic year by means of ATP, ALCSCS, and interviews. The quantitative data were first analysed via Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Shapiro-Wilk tests and the results were not significant (p > .05). The values for each set of data were between the -1 and +1 values of Skewness and Kurtosis; therefore, they were normally distributed. In addition to descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test was conducted to reveal any significant differences between under- and postgrad programmes; while Person Correlation test was used to check the correlation between PAP, NAP, SNP, EXT, and GPA. Meanwhile, semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with the 8 volunteer students and 3 instructors. Thematic and content analyses were used to analyse the qualitative data. The content analysis of the interviewees’ definition of plagiarism and the personality traits they associated with plagiarism were conducted using Lextutor.com, and the results are given with their frequencies. The rest of the qualitative data were analysed by means of theme-coding.

Biographical notes

Salim Razı (Volume editor) Irene Glendinning (Volume editor) Tomáš Foltýnek (Volume editor)

Salim Razı is Associate Professor at the English Language Teaching Department of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey and a Board member of ENAI. Irene Glendinning is based in the Office of Teaching and Learning at Coventry University, UK and Vice President of ENAI. Tomáš Foltýnek is an academic integrity coordinator at the Faculty of Business and Economics, Mendel University in Brno, Czechia, and President of ENAI.


Title: Towards Consistency and Transparency in Academic Integrity