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University students’ plagiarism at a “terrible” level: educators

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Only a small percentage of university students and postgraduates in Vietnam are able to write essays that meet ethical academic standards, educators say. 

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Nearly all university students admit that they refer to theses on the same topics written by older students when doing their own work. 

Many of the students use old theses as materials to ‘cook’ their theses. They copy paragraphs and paste them into their work. In many cases, they copy many pages verbatim without showing the sources.

Ngo Quy Nham, a lecturer at the Hanoi University of Foreign Trade, said that plagiarism is at a ‘terrible’ level. 

“The students’ awareness about fighting plagiarism is very low, even at prestigious schools which run joint training programs with foreign schools,” Nham said.

Nham said no one tells students what they can and cannot do. 

Many of the students use old theses as materials to ‘cook’ their theses. They copy paragraphs and paste them into their work. In many cases, they copy many pages verbatim without showing the sources.

“At primary, middle and high schools, students are given sample essays so they can create similar work. At university, students collect ideas from different sources to create work of their own,” he said, adding that it is a habit of Vietnamese students to copy ideas and arguments of other people.  

“We still don’t have measures to encourage original work. In other words, we don’t make efforts to advise students, warn them and punish their acts of plagiarism,” he added.

Nguyen Thi Thu Huyen, MA, from the HCMC University Education, said she found that 70 percent of second-year students had plagiarized work. 

“Many students copy other authors’ works verbatim, with no words being changed,” she said.

“I gave zero mark to one work and I received an inquiry from the student of the work. The student did not recognize that he had made a very serious mistake,” she added.

According to Huyen, Vietnamese students are not equipped with sufficient knowledge about academic ethics. 

She said that even postgraduates, PhD students and researchers don’t understand ethical standards.

In some cases, students know the rules, but they ignore them. They made similar mistakes at lower level schools and were often forgiven by teachers.

Even though plagiarism is a serious violation in other countries and subject to heavy sanctions, Vietnam has no such punishment.

Do Thi Ngoc Quyen, an independent researcher on tertiary education, said that many lecturers and scholars know what plagiarism means, but they continue to do it. 

“This can be attributed to the half-serious academic environment in Vietnam,” she said.

Nguyen Thao

Source: VietNamNet

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