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Vietnam universities push for effort to solve alarming plagiarism issue

Monday, June 01, 2015, 17:21 GMT+7
Vietnam universities push for effort to solve alarming plagiarism issue
This illustrative photo shows students at a job fair in Vietnam.

A number of universities have paid more heed and started taking action to curb plagiarism, which has become a major issue among students and instructors in Vietnam.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

At a conference on academic integrity held by Ho Chi Minh City-based Hoa Sen (Lotus) University on May 29, representatives of several local universities said that plagiarism among students in Vietnam is worse than the global average.

Vo Thanh Hai, rector of Duy Tan University, shocked the event with his school’s survey of freshmen with the question, “Have you ever copied a whole essay, a paragraph or more than half a page without mentioning references?”

The results showed that only 16 percent of the students said no, while the rest admitted that they had plagiarized.

Of the ‘yes’ responses, 49 percent simply said ‘yes’ without indicating how many times they had copied with no reference, 13.5 percent said they had done it many times, 12 percent confessed they do it regularly, and 9.5 percent claimed they do not do it regularly.

In explaining why they did not mention the authors of the original writings they quoted, 36 percent said they did not know the reference methodology, 12 percent said they did not remember who the authors were, 21 percent blamed the pressure of their assignments, and nine percent declared that they did not care about references.

Meanwhile, Hoa Sen University also presented a research on plagiarism by comparing 681 essays written by students from the human resource, tourism, finance, accounting, sales, and marketing majors with published documents.

The results were considered alarming, too.

According to Dr. Do Ba Khang, a member of the team which conducted the research, the similarities found between the essays and published documents were 29 percent on average, a high rate compared to the rest of the world.

In other countries, only 10-20 percent, or even five percent, of the writings found similar with published documents are considered plagiarism, Khang stressed.

Thus, 73 percent or 84 percent of the surveyed essays will be construed as plagiarism if the rate of similarity is 20 percent or 15 percent respectively.

The research also pointed out that long essays had a higher rate of plagiarism than short ones.

Plagiarism has also been detected among instructors and MBA students.

The Maritime University in the northern city of Hai Phong has paid close attention to its instructors and MBA students as well as their lesson plans, graduation theses, and scientific articles in order to find out any academic dishonesty, if any.

After examination, a number of MBA graduation theses were rejected since they had similarities with other documents. Many scientific articles with a similarity rate which was higher than regulated were also disqualified.

Solutions

According to local experts, plagiarism is not new but has become more and more common since the rise of the Internet, which has become a convenient and low-cost supply of documents for people to plagiarize.

They said plagiarism will limit the ability to develop students’ important skills, such as reading, writing, research, analysis and organization, and creativity.

A participant at the conference said that schools need to talk to students about the issue to solve it.

He also suggested that schools bring writing methodology into the official curriculum, increase modules on creativity, and change learning outcome assessment methods, as well as strictly curb plagiarism to educate and raise students’ awareness of the issue.

Meanwhile, a number of universities have used software to check for similarities among writings.

Articles, research papers, lesson plans, and theses will be checked with the software to see if they have similarities to published writings.

The software is also able to point out which sources the similar parts were cited from, and each school will have its own regulation on how much similarity is considered plagiarism.

Hoa Sen University researcher Dr. Do Ba Khang said his school has seen a decrease in the similarity rate of students’ writings since the school began using the software.

According to Tran Long Giang, vice head of the research institute of the Maritime University, said his agency has used plagiarism examining software since 2014.

The software still has limits, for example its database on the Vietnamese language used in technical fields is not as large as it should be, so some cases of plagiarism have been missed, he said.

However, it has helped to increase the quality of writings with detailed references mentioned, as well as to limit the replication of graduation theses and lesson plans.

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