Why students plagiarise: Corrupted morals or failed education?

Joseph Keung Fai WU, Eric Wing Hong CHUI, Ming Tak HUE, Anthony YAU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Why do students plagiarise and how can we tackle the problem? An accurate understanding of reasons for student plagiarism is a crucial step to successful formulation of effective solutions to the problem. To this end, a focus group study was conducted to collect information from an “insider” view on why Hong Kong university students might engage themselves in acts of academic dishonesty. A survey questionnaire was eventually developed and then self-administered by a sample of Hong Kong university students. Based on the students’ self-report, among other forms of academic dishonesty, plagiarism is the most common type of academic misconduct. In addition, plagiarism seems to be a “gateway behaviour” that might signify a “syndrome” of other academically dishonest behaviours. Regarding reasons for student plagiarism, a majority of students participating in the focus group study attributed this to its “convenience” and to inadequate learning support from teachers. Survey data reveal that plagiaristic behaviours are better explained by interactions between personal and contextual factors. Further, students in the focus group study generally opined that the plagiarism detection software currently adopted did not yield accurate detection and could be deceived. Taken together, our data tell us that the problem of student plagiarism should be treated as a challenge to teaching and learning rather than merely an issue of discipline violation. For its solution, emphasis should be placed on education instead of punishment. Copyright © 2021 European Conference on Education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
EventThe 9th European Conference on Education - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Jul 202118 Jul 2021


ConferenceThe 9th European Conference on Education
Abbreviated titleECE2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Wu, J. K. F., Chui, E. W. H., Hue, M. T., & Yau, A. (2021, July). Why students plagiarise: Corrupted morals or failed education? Paper presented at the 9th European Conference on Education (ECE2021), London, UK.


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