Extreme Plagiarism: The Rise of the e-Idiot?

By Zena O’Connor.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 18, 2014 $US5.00

The last decade has witnessed considerable change in higher education. These changes include the pervasive nature of the Internet and its impact on teaching and learning; the impact of economic rationalism as a consequence of the global financial crisis in 2008; and the growth in student numbers that reflect variations in population and migration patterns. In conjunction with these changes, a new form of plagiarism has emerged and, while plagiarism has been problematic in higher education for some time, this new form of extreme plagiarism brings serious implications. Defined within the context of this commentary, extreme plagiarism is a behaviour that is practiced by a yet to be quantified cohort of students. The extent and degree of extreme plagiarism, which becomes evident during regular grading of assignments, is extremely disturbing. Dubbed the “e-Idiot” for dramatic effect, this paper discusses the propensity among some students to engage in extreme plagiarism; a behaviour that seems to indicate a desire to short-circuit the learning process. Displaying a lack of understanding about the learning process, some students appear to be keen, in true Machiavellian style, to pass their subjects by any means possible. While research is yet to quantify this cohort in detail, anecdotal evidence indicates that this behaviour is thriving among a small cohort of students. This commentary highlights some of the ways in which the students who engage in plagiarism are aiming to undermine the generally robust assessment practices in higher education, and discusses some of the factors that may be contributing to the emergence of this student cohort. Recommendations are presented that may inhibit or counteract extreme plagiarism. In addition, while many higher education institutions have policies relating to graduate attributes, academic integrity, and plagiarism (often accompanied by implementation strategies,) these policies can become meaningless without satisfactory performance and real accountability on the part of students and lecturers alike. Hence, a call-to-action is assigned to academic boards to address the gaps between policy and strategy implementation in regard to academic integrity and graduate attributes in general and extreme plagiarism in particular.

Keywords: Plagiarism, Academic Integrity, Graduate Attributes, Learning

The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 22, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 18, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 817.214KB)).

Dr. Zena O’Connor

Associate Lecturer/Consultant Researcher, Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Building, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia