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What Do You Know about Plagiarism?

   
 
   
At the end of March there were plagiarism scandals, which included broadcaster Kim Mi-hwa, actress Kim Hye-soo, who is an alumnus of Dongguk University, and even a famous public speaker Kim Mi-kyung. Plagiarism has emerged as a social concern. To battle this problem many universities in Korea are aiming to prevent plagiarism by implementing plagiarism report systems and by opening up ethical education seminars for the prevention of plagiarism. However, despite such efforts, university students still lack basic awareness about the importance and prevention of plagiarism. According to a survey conducted by Copy Killer aimed at 1013 individuals attending Korean colleges in 2013, 82% of students did not know the difference between plagiarism and using citations. Also, for the question whether they knew how to use quotation marks in essays and reports, only 5% of those who replied said “Yes.” Additionally, 55% of the respondents said that they never felt guilty when they plagiarized others’ ideas. The same survey questions were also asked of 100 students at Dongguk University from May 13th to 15th. The results were not far off from the previous survey. Only 38% of the students were found to be able to discriminate between the differences of plagiarism and using quotations. 38% of the students knew the correct way to use quotation marks. 53% of the students never felt guilty about plagiarizing.

The problem of plagiarism is evident through real cases which have occurred at Dongguk University. Chun Seung- woo, a professor at Dongguk University, shared his personal experience during a plagiarism prevention seminar, which was held on May 7th in the Dongguk Center for Teaching and Learning. One time he gave homework that included writing a book report. He was shocked to find that almost all of his students had copied their reports from internet. Moreover, in a class called “Conversation about Novels and Movies,” one student received an “F” because he handed in the final paper without any quotation marks citing information that he had copied from the internet. The results of both surveys show that rampant plagiarism is occurring on campus and clearly demonstrate the students’ general lack of knowledge about plagiarism.

This brings us to the question, what is plagiarism? According to South Korea's new Ministry of Education, there are three rules that define plagiarism. The first rule is “Using a chain of more than six words from a different essay.” This means it is regarded as plagiarism if students use more than six words from the original text in the same order successively. The second rule is “Having the same thesis or similar data with another essay.” For this rule, when students copy another's thesis statement or slightly change another’s topic sentence and then uses it as their own original argument, it is determined as plagiarism. The last rule is “Using another’s previous work without the appropriate citations." This occurs when students do not use proper citations in their footnotes or endnotes of their papers. However, these three rules are just the guidelines for everyone. In fact, these rules apply differently at each university depending on their own judgment.

In the case of Dongguk University, plagiarism is defined as when students use the sayings, ideas, data, and information from others by editing the original text slightly and use it as their own original ideas without making any quotations or using proper citations. As for Dongguk University’s punishment for plagiarism, the process is as follows: when one student is caught plagiarizing, the related department must decide whether it is a case of plagiarism or not. If it is determined to be plagiarism then they must submit a letter of request for disciplinary action to be taken by the school, and the school disciplinary committee must determine what the punishment will be that should be given to the student. Up until now, however, there is no disciplinary committee that has dealt with plagiarism.

Even though no public plagiarism cases have been revealed at Dongguk University, the university is trying hard to prevent it in the future. For the prevention of plagiarism, there are two main ways-cognitional effort and institutional effort. For the cognitional effort, the university has begun to open plagiarism prevention seminars to provide basic knowledge about plagiarism. During the seminars students can learn how to use Copy killer which is a useful internet site for detecting plagiarism. At the first seminar, which was held on May 7th, professor Chun Seung-woo gave a brief lecture about plagiarism, and added “as the school is making an effort to prevent plagiarism, it is recommended that students participate in plagiarism ethics education seminars and pay a lot of attention to the plagiarism issue.” One student who also participated in the seminar, Wi Ji-young, a junior majoring in Korean language and Literature, said “I decided to participate in this seminar because I wrote lots of papers for my classes and I will write my graduation paper soon. This was a good opportunity for me since the concept of plagiarism was clarified through this lecture. Although I was aware that plagiarism is immoral, I did not know there were certain rules that defined it.” With regards to Copy killer, she added, “it will be useful for students because they just have to attach a file to check whether or not they used another’s ideas without making quotations inadvertently.”

Moreover, Dongguk has made two institutional efforts. First, they added a plagiarism detection system on e-class. When students submit their tasks through e-Class the professor can check to see if there was plagiarism by comparing their assignment with other students’ assignments in all classes from the previous year to the current year. According to Lee Hyun-woo from Information Service and Education, this service was provided with the purpose of not only preventing students from copying their classmates’ homework but also teaching ethics to students before they head out into larger society. Second, they added Copy killer. Copy killer is a plagiarism inspection system that was adopted by Dongguk University on February 25th. The system works in a similar way to e-class with the exception that all students can use it individually at home. Kim Hee-soo, the director of Muhaya Company, that created Copy killer said, “This program provides a plagiarism percentage based on the assignments within one class and all other classes in the school and works as an internet resource to provide an objectified percentage of plagiarism for users.” 

Besides Dongguk University, other schools are trying to eradicate plagiarism. Chungbuk University, for instance, is a good example because they have made efforts to eliminate plagiarism by implementing a plagiarism inspection system. This system immediately calculates the percentage of plagiarism in a report or essay by comparing it with the data from not only internet websites but also all other students’ assignments at the university. It detects papers that are bought from any internet site that sells reports. Another example is the University of Seoul’s Student Activities Committee. Students work as monitoring programmers to detect plagiarism in others’ papers. If the monitoring students discover plagiarism, then the student who was caught will receive an “F.”

Reports and assignments are an individuals’ intellectual property. However, it seems that many students overlook this, because it is not materialistic. To improve this situation, both universities and students should make continual efforts. Students should learn more about intellectual property and learn to respect other peoples’ work.

 

Na Soo-hyun  suny93511@dongguk.edu

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