Flattery does not translate into all cultures

November 5, 2004

The hunt is on for what could be the UK's first dedicated plagiarism researcher as part of a joint project by two UK universities to find out how culture impacts on the decision of overseas students to plagiarise.

Lancaster University Management School and the London School of Economics will recruit a research associate as part of the project, which will look at the underlying explanations for plagiarism among foreign students.

Niall Hayes, lecturer in organisation, work and technology at Lancaster, is helping to lead the project. He said plagiarism was not necessarily worse among foreign students but that the reasons behind it were very different and were often cultural.

Some foreign students believe that imitation is the highest form of flattery, to the extent that it would be disrespectful to put what they have learnt into their own words.

Dr Hayes said: "People tend to copy work rather than set out to plagiarise.

We assume that plagiarism requires intent.

"During six years as a lecturer, I can really think of only one or maybe two students who deliberately set out to cheat."

The project will explore such cultural values and will examine electronic detection among Chinese, Greek, Indian and Malaysian students.

The project has won £215,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England's teaching and learning development fund.

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