The problem of plagiarism in academic culture


  • Julianne East



For those new to Australian academic culture, particularly international students, the emphasis on the importance of avoiding plagiarism can herald a new concept and a new way of using source material and constructing text, while for those familiar with academic culture the concepts of plagiarism may seem to need no explanation. In this paper I explore the idea that concepts of plagiarism are embedded in Australian academic culture, which explains why university lecturers as members of this academic culture can ‘know’ what plagiarism is, while new students by contrast can be concerned and confused. I argue that students new to university in Australia are entering ‘a high context culture’, which means that they are trying to learn from those within this culture whose understandings of some of the complexities of academic culture and academic writing are often implicit and taken for granted. In this paper, attitudes to text in the culture of the English speaking university are reviewed. I also review perspectives from scholars and lecturers working in the area of university learning and teaching. Finally, I suggest some critical ways of teaching about the problem of plagiarism.