Are Professors Liable For Students’ Plagiarism?

Monday, 15 September 2014 08:48

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Are Professors Liable For Students' Plagiarism

“Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.”

by Henry Ford   

You have certainly read thousands of news, posts or articles on plagiarism, haven’t you? All of them put a strong emphasis on its “spreading capacity”, particularly in education. Citing hundreds of examples of the most blatant instances with students being the main heroes of the stories soon won’t surprise anyone…

Somebody may accuse only students of taking these wrong actions deliberately, whereas somebody may put all the blame on professors who are to take a strict control over students’ studying process to eliminate plagiarism once and for all.

Who do you consider to be right? Let’s conduct a brief investigation.

Do Educators Ignore Plagiarism Problem?

No doubt, that the answer to the question above can’t be as simple as “yes” or “no”. To understand where the heart of the matter is, you needn’t make haste to answer the question, but take into account most of the aspects that may cause a problem.

Academic staff are the key figures in education sphere, since they are responsible not only for teaching of students, but also have to do loads of paper work in order to prepare lessons, assignments, exams, reports, tests, etc. Moreover, they are to administer and grade students’ work; take active part in working out of education programs and writing articles on scientific, methodic or other issues; constantly attend training courses to raise their qualification; and so on and so forth.

You do realize that the list above isn’t complete, which means that educators have a great deal of tasks to cope with and may really lack time to fight plagiarism. Though there might be those, who carelessly perform their functions and make no efforts to eliminate students’ plagiarism at all… Fortunately, there are few of them indeed.

Obviously, educators don’t ignore the issue. Then what actually prevents them from tackling the problem as quickly as possible?

What Puts A Spoke In The Wheel? 

Lack of time isn’t the only obstacle stopping professors from responding to plagiarism instances fast. Here are some more reasons, which may shed light on the question above:

  • Not well-coordinated work of educational establishments’ departments. Because of that, most of academic staff can’t have an overall picture of a student’s personal qualities, skills and knowledge and therefore, it seems difficult to understand if the student is always capable of performing well or not.
  • Rapid technological development is another obstacle on the way of academic staff. They simply can’t manage to keep track of all novelties, while students take this opportunity to go on honing their cheating skills.
  • Assignments that are unified for all students, not creative and aren’t systematically changed. As a result, the temptation to cheat or copy-paste becomes very big.
  • No plagiarism checkers approved by educational establishments for use by academic staff. Thus, professors have no possibility to save their time on checking multiple students’ works for plagiarism.
  • Too many students in a group, that decreases performance of academic staff and students too.

So, things aren’t as simple as they seemed to be at first, right? However, it’s not a deadlock.

What Are The Remedies?

As the quotation by Henry Ford says, the main point is to focus on finding a remedy, not a guilty person. It’s not a secret that most of students plagiarize deliberately, however there are also many of those who know nothing about intentional or unintentional plagiarism. So, as far as solutions are concerned, they may be as follows:

  • Raising awareness of plagiarism issues and carrying out a serious of practical lessons teaching how to avoid plagiarism;
  • Encouraging students to work individually regardless of possible numerous mistakes;
  • Working out diverse assignments aiming at development of students’ skills and knowledge instead of multiple-choice tests;
  • Enlarging the number of short writing tasks to be completed during the lessons, to know better what each student is capable of;
  • Enlarging the number of up-to-date quality sources of information and insisting on using them actively;
  • Choosing an efficient plagiarism tool to be integrated into educational establishment’s internal system, allowing academic staff and students check works for plagiarism.

Depending on type of educational establishments, its management system and other peculiarities, the solutions can differ a lot.

Should you know any other alternatives or ideas how students’ plagiarism may be prevented, please share in the comments below. Your opinion matters much!



  1. with regard to the quote by Henry Ford:


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