Finding accurate plagiarism statistics is difficult for several reasons.
- Many people who plagiarize are either unaware of their bad behavior or unwilling to admit it.
- The majority of plagiarists are never caught, so official records of plagiarism vastly under-report the degree of the problem.
- It's hard for people to agree on what exactly constitutes plagiarism. For example, a large number of people still insist that only a direct word-for-word copy of another writer's work is plagiarism.
However, even the limited plagiarism statistics that are available indicate this is a problem that continues to grow as new technologies make it easier to quickly distribute information among large groups of people.
Plagiarism Statistics and Shocking Facts
Plagiarism.org has a section of its site devoted to explaining how large the problem of plagiarism really is. Findings include:
- The Center of Academic Integrity reports that 80% of college students admit to cheating at least once.
- A survey by Psychological Record found that 36% of undergraduates admitted to plagiarizing written material.
- Education Week conducted a survey that revealed 54% of students admitted to plagiarizing from the Internet for their class assignments. This same survey also found that 47% of students believed their teachers sometimes chose to ignore evidence that students were cheating.
Colegio Bolivar reports the following plagiarism statistics:
- One major survey of high school students found that 58.3% of high school students let someone else copy their work in 1969, but 97.5% admitted to doing so in 1989.
- Who's Who Among American High School Students reported that 4 out of 5 high-achieving high school students admitted to cheating on schoolwork during a 1998 survey.
- University of California-Berkley officials report cheating on campus increased 744% from 1993 to 1997.
What Is Plagiarism?
The top forms of plagiarism among students include:
- Directly turning in work written by someone else
- Copying and pasting online sources for a research paper
- Failing to properly cite the ideas or thoughts of others
The reasons students give for their plagiarism are varied.
- They don't know what plagiarism is.
- They don't care about the material.
- They feel pressured to get good grades, regardless of how that happens.
- They don't have time to correctly complete their assignments.
- The consequences of plagiarism aren't enough of a deterrent.
Helping to Combat the Rise in Plagiarism
Most of the literature available regarding plagiarism refers to the problem in a strictly academic context. However, plagiarism is definitely an issue of concern to anyone who hopes to work as a professional writer. A writer makes a living from his words, so plagiarism is essentially robbing him of his ability to meet his financial needs.What can professional writers do to help stop the spread of plagiarism?
- Don't accept jobs writing for term paper mills. Helping college students cheat on their homework is bad karma, since there is a good chance at least some of these students will eventually end up working in the same field as you.
- Don't accept jobs that involve rewriting the same article 25-50 times. Article rewrites are very common in the Web content field, but most of these jobs are essentially plagiarism for hire.
- Regularly use Copyscape and other plagiarism detection resources to make sure your content isn't being plagiarized online. When you find content that has been copied, send a note to the offender demanding payment for your work or requesting that it be removed from the site.
- Support websites like Plagiarism Today and Slideshare.com that make a point of educating people about the dangers of plagiarism.
- Whenever you teach writing, make a point of devoting at least one lesson to helping your students understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.