Two years ago, there was a large debated started in Romania when the actual Romanian Prime-Minister was accused of plagiarism on his PhD thesis by media. He is young and he graduated his PhD when he was a very young politician. There were scholars and professors frustrated and incriminating their colleagues for this situation. Several Universitary’s commissions and Ministry of Education Commissions were conducted to analyze where, if and how much of the thesis was plagiated. Their conclusion was irrelevant and ambiguous formulated. The issue has remained open. Few months later, a State Secretary of Ministry of Education was accused, again, of using plagiarism on her Master thesis. She was asked to resign by the media. Perhaps, there were to be established other commissions and other conclusions to be ambiguous formulated for the public opinion. She resigned few weeks ago for political reasons as her political party left the Govern.
In this context I was interested in conducted a research of a local level with minimum resources. As a sociologist and as a scholar, I was interested in the matter. I will present some important aspects of this research and its main findings.
Our research forwards a quantitative survey conducted in a Romanian state university regarding the use of the Internet by the students in their learning activities. In this analysis context, we monitored the degree in which students admit to plagiarism from on-line sources, starting from the hypothesis that a teacher’s low control degree leads to an increased use of plagiarism in the learning activity and in completing learning tasks. What are the causes of plagiarism? How is plagiarism perceived by teachers? We investigated if this practice exists in close connection with the degree of Internet use or if it is triggered by a lack of control / competency from the part of the teacher.
The main research technique was the questionnaire. The final instrument was elaborated with a number of 14 items containing mixed and pre-coded questions. The type of self-administration of the survey was written and it was applied for 10 to 15 minutes during the course activity. The research investigation was performed in the period February – May 2013.
The results are the following: the students use the “copy-paste” command often (score 4) whenever they have the opportunity, in proportion of 44%; when they do not understand the assignment to solve– 52%; when they have no other resources besides the on-line ones- 56%; when they do not have time – 52% and when they are aware that the homework is not checked by the teacher – 56%. The lack of teacher control and the lack of resources appear to be the principal causes for the use of the „copy-paste” command. The other possible causes did not registered high scores (5 – always) or 1 (never).
The main result indicates that the most important role in fighting against this pathology has the teacher. If we correlate the students’ answers, we may observe that the teacher’s profile is clearly determined and it does not matter his/her speciality. We argue furthermore that is a duty above a competency, a duty that involves ethics and general human values. This fact can be caused also by the professional competency of the teacher, the professional ethics and the relation teacher-student in the process of fulfilling the learning tasks.
Plagiarism, under all its forms, is admitted by the students as being used in the learning activity. The fact that it exists as such, irrespective of the frequency, form and degree of use, represents a line of the education system reform, both individually, and institutionally. It requires ampler intervention strategies and at the same time focused on concrete situations. We think that the positive reforming vision may trigger more efficient results in the long run, so that it can reach the creative dimension of the human nature.
*The scientific version of the article can be found at Rotaru Ileana (2014)– Beyond „google/ search”: students uses and gratifications of the internet within learning activities, Revista Sociologie Românească (Romanian Sociology Journal), ISSN:1220-5839,nr.3/2014 http://www.arsociologie.ro/revista-sociologie-romaneasca/1391-sumar-sociologie-romaneasca-3-2014