Culture of minimal influence: A study of Japanese university students’ attitudes toward plagiarism


  • Greg Wheeler



The influence culture may have on East Asian students’ attitudes toward plagiarism has been a topic of much discussion in recent years, with many scholars believing that students from this region do not view plagiarism negatively. They argue that the students have little concept of individual word ownership and consequently feel copying the works of others should not be considered a transgression. Others, however, are wary of this culture argument, and suggest that it is seemingly premised on instances in which East Asian students have plagiarised on their English writing assignments. They submit that rather than culture, the underlying cause of student plagiarism more likely stems from a fear of academic failure due to struggles with a foreign language. Japanese students are often included among those who supposedly do not view plagiarism as morally wrong. In the present study, this theory is explored through examining data from a survey designed to gauge attitudes toward plagiarism and citation administered in 2011 to students at eight Japanese universities. Results indicate that Japanese students almost overwhelmingly view plagiarism as wrong and believe in the importance of providing citations to works they have used, although students from medical backgrounds may possibly be less concerned about the importance of citation than those from other fields. Moreover, contrary to beliefs held by both those who agree and disagree with the culture argument, results show that Japanese students seemingly receive more formal instruction regarding citation techniques than what has been commonly believed.


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