13 October 2016
How to face Plagiarism: A research by Imad Abu Dayyeh and Imad Al Skakiyya
The awareness on Plagiarism at Arab universities is way behind western universities. According to Imad Abu Dayyeh and Imad Al Skakiyya, it’s time to change that. The two members of the English Department did a widespread research among faculty members and freshman students of Bethlehem University in order to get a precise idea of the awareness and perspective towards plagiarism.
The results were presented at the 13th October to a small but interested audience in Furno Hall, and what they found didn’t only surprise the two researchers… The core of the research were seven hypothesis, four concerning students awareness and causes, three of them concerning the teachers.
Hypothesis 1: Most freshmen students lack awareness of what plagiarism is and what constitutes plagiarism.
Hypothesis 2: Most teachers are fully aware of what is considered plagiarism.
To verify those Hypothesis concerning the awareness, they send a survey to all first year students and faculty members. The survey contained different cases which the subjects had to rate either as plagiarism or no plagiarism. To evaluate, they ranked the answers and took the average, so in the end, they got a number between 1 (“low”) and 3 (“high”). While both, students and teachers, were absolutely able to get the easy cases, teachers failed much more of the hard cases compared to freshman students. Students only struggled with three of the more difficult cases, teachers did so nine times.
An alarming outcome, which Imad Abu Dayyeh and Imad Al Skakiyya now had to find the causes of. Based on the 5 remaining hypothesis, they put up a whole table of possible causes and again asked the faculty and freshmen which they think is the most plausible. Surprisingly, they were pretty agreed on the causes:
Same goes for possible solutions, whereas both sides were free to give more possible solutions. Students clearly see the responsibility with the teachers, asking for better training and clearer instructions. Teachers, however, want to see more activities from the students and the University itself, providing special training centers or facilities for self-training.
To conclude with, the two researchers gave a few advices how to increase the awareness towards plagiarism at BU and elsewhere in the Arab world, e. g. by establishing a clear policy on plagiarism including punishments. Thereby, Bethlehem University is about to take a leading role in facing plagiarism in the arab world.
The small audience liked the presentation very well. In the discussion after the presentation, they bought up several interesting questions:
How shall the research go on?
The next step will be to check actual pieces of work to verify the findings of this research.
How can we prove plagiarism?
There are special webpages to check pieces of work. Another advice given was to ask the student to rewrite the paper in front of oneself. If there is a significant change of language in the second paper, the first one was plagiarism.
How can we prevent?
We have to force a change of attitude towards plagiarism, marking it as a crime to make people feel guilty rather than feeling clever.
The Bethlehem University hugely admires the research and hope that Imad Abu Dayyeh and Imad Al Skakiyya will successfully cause some change and get closer to western universities, in keeping with their motto “Think globally but act locally”.