Memoirs of a Saudi Ph.D. student: The menace of plagiarism

Memoirs of a Saudi Ph.D. student: The menace of plagiarism

In the previous article, I expressed my happiness over the pleasant weather here in the United Kingdom making fasting in Ramadan very easy. I think I spoke too soon and should have waited till the end of Ramadan to write about the nice weather. Just two days after the publication of the article, the UK was hit by a heat wave pushing the temperature upward in a country where air conditioners are only found in luxury hotels.
Under normal circumstances, braving hot weather is difficult but during fasting it becomes an uphill task.
Anyway, it was during one of the same days when I was whiling away the time reading messages on my Snapchat account, I came across a message asking people to do her research work for her, she needed to submit as part of her university coursework.
The request came to me as a shock. How could somebody ask for such help so openly without any fear? The female student’s casual style irked me the most. I could not resist commenting on the message and send several snaps lecturing her on the nature of the problem and tried to explain to her that it was an academic offense.
Much to my surprise, the other side countered me by asking as to how could this practice be called an offense. It was, according to her, hiring a helping hand and that too publicly.
I then had to record several snaps about plagiarism and how hiring someone to do your academic work for you is one of the worst types of plagiarism.
Thanks to the advancements in technology, detecting plagiarized work has become very easy. There are certain programs that take a few seconds in determining the originality of any research material.
Those programs even detect the plagiarized portions with their exact sources.
The real challenge is in assuring that the submitted work is in fact conducted by the student him/herself especially when no vocal exam or presentations are required. The problem is that students always offer excuses for this wrong practice. Some of them think that it is fine to ask for somebody’s help as long as the submitted work is for a general course (why should I waste my efforts in a general course), and others make up for their knowingly wrong act by trying to memorize and study their plagiarized work so they, according to them, have benefitted from the work so its not totally useless and not wrong.
I don’t have any statistics to determine the number of students who consider this practice legal but after having conversations with various students on the social media, I have realized that we are faced with a huge academic issue i.e. students these days lack honesty.
It is an important issue as it affects our future. Of course, people with this attitude ultimately join the workforce upon the completion of their studies. One could imagine how would such people behave at their respective workplaces and their impact.
Therefore, there is a great need to create awareness about plagiarism and the need for honesty so as to nip the evil in the bud. In addition to that strict laws should be enacted to punish those found violating academic laws by submitting plagiarized works.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view