Publication Details

This article was originally published as Collier, H, Perrin, R and McGowan, CB, Plagiarism: let the policy fix the crime, Fourth Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference, Singapore, 4-6 July 2004, 1226-1245.


Plagiarism is considered to be an unacceptable act, a crime, in today’s University. This is reinforced by the Latin and Greek origins of the word, i.e., meaning to ‘plunder’ or ‘kidnap’. An Australian Vice-Chancellor was recently asked to resign following public allegations and findings of his plagiarism. Universities adopt and publicise policies to illustrate what they expect from their students. We posit that while some students plagiarise for reasons endogenous to those students, others do so as a result of poorly designed and constructed assignments and assessment tasks. From a simple example involving the use of the plagiarism detection software program, “Turnitin” and 50, 2nd year Accounting students’ essays, we find the demonstrated level of ‘originality’ and ‘research’ as acceptable for the task the students had been set. However, we conclude that those responsible for formulating and setting assessment tasks require greater consideration of issues of cognitive development and complexity.