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Australian university responses to student plagiarism: Shooting the messenger?

Holloway, D.A., Joseph, R. and Vuori, T. (2005) Australian university responses to student plagiarism: Shooting the messenger? In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2005: The Reflective Practitioner, 3 - 4 February 2005, Murdoch University, Western Australia.


Student plagiarism, when detected and publicised, is a public relations disaster for Australian universities. The increasing frequency in which this problem surfaces in the press draws differing levels of responses from university management. This paper explores the nature of these organisational responses with a review and categorisation of some recent cases in Australia. The focus of this paper is on cases involving mass plagiarism since in individual student occurrences universities are usually stringent in applying policies and penalties for proven plagiarism offences. Formal university responses, such as the reporting of plagiarism case statistics on web sites, are also discussed. It is argued that Australian universities are prone to suppress the problem in order to avoid adverse public relations. What is revealed by this type of response is that university management is selective about the academic transgressions of power it chooses to pursue. It is convenient to first suppress and if this does not work, then punish individual staff and students involved. This deflects attentions way from the broader systemic dimensions of power within universities that give rise to plagiarism as a symptom.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Murdoch Business School
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