Guest Editorial Plagiarism
ABSTRACT The ten papers in this special issue focus on the topic of plagiarism. The motivation behind the special issue is to uncover the root causes of plagiarism and suggest new ways of counteracting theses causes. A short review of the papers is provided here.
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ABSTRACT: This paper describes a four-year longitudinal study of the extent of nonoriginal material in final-year undergraduate computing projects. This was done in conjunction with the establishment of a proactive departmental policy on academic integrity which emphasized education and prevention as well as detection and penalty. The intention of the project was to attempt to reduce the amount of nonattributed nonoriginal (plagiarized) content in the projects. The amount of nonoriginal material contained in each of approximately 900 projects over all four years was automatically measured and subsequently investigated and evaluated. Despite problems caused by the continual development of the measurement tools during the project, the conclusion can be drawn that the amount of nonoriginal material has declined and that which remains is being used with greater integrity.IEEE Transactions on Education 06/2008; · 1.02 Impact Factor
IEEE Trans. Education. 01/2008; 51:184-188.
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ABSTRACT: Laboratory work assignments are very important for computer science learning. Over the last 12 years many students have been involved in solving such assignments in the authors' department, having reached a figure of more than 400 students doing the same assignment in the same year. This number of students has required teachers to pay special attention to conceivable plagiarism cases. A plagiarism detection tool has been developed as part of a full toolset for helping in the management of the laboratory work assignments. This tool defines and uses four similarity criteria to measure how similar two assignment implementations are. The paper describes the plagiarism detection tool and the experience of using it over the last 12 years in four different programming assignments, from microprogramming a CPU to system programming in C.IEEE Transactions on Education 06/2008; · 1.02 Impact Factor
IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 51, NO. 2, MAY 2008149
authors, and editors to the need to watch for plagiarism. The
issue contains ten interesting and insightful papers on the topic.
We have included a good mix of practice and theory, program,
and ethics. However, we were not convinced that a paper full of
URLs pointing to all the paper mills was a good idea. Students
also read the TRANSACTIONS!
Each paper has been refereed, and in all cases, recommen-
dations for improvement were implemented. Every paper re-
quired at least some minor fixes. There was also a natural vari-
ance in the amount of work required to fix the papers received.
There are those authors who have trouble with English, and we
officially submitting. Our work went beyond merely stamping
“accept” or “reject” on received papers. Our feeling is that the
strength of the IEEE is its international audience and we capi-
talized on that rather than rejecting a paper for poor grammar.
The whole point of this special issue is to draw attention to
some goodmaterial thatotherwise might notseethe lightof day
because of a lesser emphasis on plagiarism. We have tried to
show the current state of plagiarism, providing food for thought
ELCOME to this special issue on plagiarism. One aim
of this special issue is to sensitize academics, referees,
I. WHAT IS PLAGIARISM?
The IEEE defines plagiarism  as the reuse of someone
else’s prior ideas, processes, results, or words without explic-
plagiarism are described. A number of other IEEE Web pages
exist related to plagiarism, including those on how to detect it
and what to do about it. These Web references can be found by
searching from the home page of the IEEE.
Our best practice definition of plagiarism and how to avoid it,
which we adopt here, is 
“Plagiarism is the illegal practice of taking someone
else’s ideas, data, findings, the language, illustrative ma-
terial, images, or writing, and presenting them as if they
were your own. To avoid plagiarism, reference the source
and put quotation marks around all of the quoted words,
or paraphrase and reference.”
II. WHY WORRY ABOUT PLAGIARISM?
The following sentences appeared in our announcement (call
for papers) soliciting papers for the special issue. “Plagiarism
is an unacceptable and growing threat to academic integrity
and a threat to the very foundations of the academic system.
This threat is especially true in a world where Information
Technology has made copying information easier. The problem
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TE.2008.921789
needs to be recognized and tools need to be developed which
are readily available to identify plagiarized work.”
generally are supported by verifiable statistical evidence.
What a lot of work we have to go through to catch that pla-
giarist. How much simpler life would be if all students behaved
ethically! In an ideal world there would be no plagiarism. How-
ever, we live in a nonideal world. So we need programs which
can help us identify potential plagiarists. Because we livein this
it to exist, it would not flag common technical phraseology. It
woulddetect allcases ofsequencesof stolenwords, irrespective
of sloppy student use of nonmatching quotation marks; it would
correctly detect all cases of unattributed paraphrases, and even
detect copying of ideas, diagrams and data. To do this, it would
have in its database all scholarly work, all books, all websites,
all student submissions to all universities worldwide, including
all where English is not the language used.
III. A SHORT REVIEW OF ARTICLES IN THIS SPECIAL ISSUE
Culwin’s paper  is a much extended version of a paper that
was presented at the second international plagiarism workshop.
in plagiarism. Moreover, the policy can also be shown to make
a change in the behavioral attitudes of students as evidenced by
their increased use of referencing and so it can be argued that
they have been more effectively inducted into academic culture,
conduct and values. Hence they have been better educated.”
The editors appreciate it when a paper is correctly submitted
without any reference to prior art in the field: such a paper must
be very original indeed. Such is the paper by Kaner and Fiedler
 on a simple but fascinating experiment. They want to show
similar programs). In other words, save your money and do not
pay for theso-called “service.”Part ofthefundamental problem
with such “services” is that lecturers cannot, for example, load
IEEE copyright papers into the databases of these commercial
Rosales et al. have made a good contribution , for their
approach highlights the invisible fingerprints in the original and
copied files. Sadly, their statistics show that “there are always
some students trying to pass their assignments without doing
Since the plagiarist is being sneaky, we can be even sneakier.
As McCart and Jarman  show, we can even look at records of
object creation dates, to zoom in quickly on likely plagiarists.
As McCuen points out : students do not understand that
research takes time; and that writing the research takes time.
Researching and writing should be concurrent activities, and
0018-9359/$25.00 © 2008 IEEE
150IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 51, NO. 2, MAY 2008
not something to be rushed into just before the deadline ar-
rives. General sloppiness in performing research is the breeding
ground for plagiarism in writing.
There are variations in the interpretation of plagiarism across
the globe and across faculties. Cosma and Joy  report that
one issue is the different attitudes taken towards marked work
and unmarked work. A similar watershed occurs for material
intended for academic or industrial use. Cosma and Joy point
the same time as plagiarism, but is a different form of academic
Issues of plagiarism are more sharply focused in the writing
of source code than in the writing of prose or poetry. Also, tools
for detection of plagiarism usually have an easier job in the case
of code because of the strict syntax, compared to that of natural
language, where so many nuances of expression may be cre-
ated. If a student uses code-generating software, removes the
acknowledgement comments which were automatically placed
into the code by the software, and submits it without providing
any acknowledgements, then that is equivalent to using a ghost-
writer to write prose, and is truly plagiarism. Students should
be required to acknowledge any material they use that is not
their own original work regardless of the licensing permissions
of that material (e.g., open source). The parallel implication
for prose is that if students use Wikipedia in their introductory
prose, this should not be regarded as “common knowledge” and
must be cited. There is a distinct difference between students
sharing ideas on how to write a program and students copying
each other’s ideas for prose. The first is expected, and requires
no acknowledgement; the second is plagiarism if unattributed.
Convergence of ideas may cause similar solutions to arise inde-
pendently in the writing of programs or prose.
When universities are accepting students from other univer-
sities, they need to ensure that they receive not just the marks of
of misdemeanors such as plagiarism. The work of Beute, van
Aswegen, and Winberg  about a new university hints at the
idea that as education is becoming globalized in today’s world
of Wikiversity, strong, clear policies and action on plagiarism
Both Beute et al.  and Broeckelman  would recom-
mend a sensitizing of academic staff to the existence of pla-
giarism as a means to dissuade plagiarism, as well as a way of
improving the detection rate, reducing the plagiarism rate and
thereby reducing the perception that “I must plagiarize because
so many other students are plagiarizing.” We need an attitude of
“No one is plagiarizing, so I don’t dare to plagiarize.”
Jian et al.  have done interesting work in showing that
students around the world are not as different from each other
as we might have thought.
Graven and MacKinnon  point out the synergy that exists
between the art of plagiarism detection and automated assess-
ment, and this relationship should be built upon.
The best pointers for educationalists are those from Broeck-
elman , paraphrased and quoted as follows:
• Talk about expectations for academic honesty on the first
day of the class.
• Talk among academic staff about expectations for aca-
—We would recommend that faculty ask each other tricky
for a mayor without any references being included?
We need to strengthen the curriculum and help students to
cope with the pressures that breed plagiary. In the Web world
of free, rough translators, good plagiarism detection software
should be developed proactively.
The special issue deals with very diverse facets of plagia-
rism, but further work remains to be done, especially to create
an IEEE standard.
The guest editors would like to thank all the authors for
meeting the standards and deadlines, thus allowing to bring
together such an interesting special issue on the current state
of work in plagiarism and programming. This special issue is
dedicated to the happy memory of Seana Culwin.
University of Technology
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa
 A Plagiarism FAQ [Online]. Available: http://www.ieee.org/web/pub-
 I. G. Kennedy, How can I be Original? in How to Do Research, 2006,
 F. Culwin, “A longitudinal study of nonoriginal content in final-year
computing undergraduate projects,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp.
189–194, May 2008.
 C. Kaner and R. L. Fiedler, “A cautionary note on checking software
engineering papers for plagiarism,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp.
184–188, May 2008.
 F. Rosales, A. Garcia, S. Rodriquez, J. L. Pedraza, R. Méndez, and
M. M. Nieto, “Detection of plagiarism in programming assignments,”
IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp. 174–183, May 2008.
 J. A. McCart and J. Jarman, “A technological tool to detect plagia-
rized projects in Microsoft Access,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp.
166–173, May 2008.
 R. H. McCuen, “The plagiarism decision process: The role of pressure
and rationalization,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp. 152–156, May
 G. Cosma and M. Joy, “Towards a definition of source-code plagia-
rism,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp. 195–200, May 2008.
 N. Beute, E. S. van Aswegen, and C. Winberg, “Avoiding plagiarism
in contexts of development and change,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51,
pp. 201–205, May 2008.
academic dishonesty,” IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp. 206–211, May
 H.-L. Jian, F. E. Sandnes, Y.-P. Huang, L. Cai, and K. M. Y. Law, “On
students’ strategy-preferences for managing difficult course work,”
IEEE Trans. Educ., vol. 51, pp. 157–165, May 2008.
giarism tools for automated student assessment,” IEEE Trans. Educ.,
vol. 51, pp. 212–219, May 2008.
GUEST EDITORIAL PLAGIARISM151
Okyay Kaynak (M’80–SM’90–F’03) received the B.Sc. degree with first class honors and the
Ph.D. degree in electronic and electrical engineering from the University of Birmingham, Birm-
ingham, U.K., in 1969 and 1972, respectively.
From 1972 to 1979, he held various positions within the electronics and electrical engineering
industry. In 1979, he joined the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Bogazici
University, Istanbul, Turkey, where he is presently a Full Professor, holding the UNESCO Chair
on Mechatronics. He has held long-term (near to or more than a year) Visiting Professor/Scholar
positions at various institutions in Japan, Germany, Singapore, and the United States. His current
research interests are in the fields of intelligent control and mechatronics. He has authored three
books, edited five, and authored or coauthored more than 200 papers that have appeared in various
journals and conference proceedings.
Dr. Kaynak is active in international organizations, has served on many committees of IEEE,
and was President of the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society during 2002–2003.
Robin Braun (S’79–M’80–SM’94) received the B.Sc.(Hons) degree from Brighton University,
Brighton, U.K., and the M.Sc.(Eng.) and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cape Town, Cape
Town, South Africa, in 1980, 1982, and 1986, respectively.
He started his academic career in 1986 at the University of Cape Town. In 1998, he moved to the
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, where he occupies the Chair of Telecommunications.
Prior to moving to academia, he spent 10 years in industry, mostly with Philips and Plessey, where
been innetwork protocolsand themanagement ofcomplexnextgenerationnetworks.In particular,
he was instrumental in the creation of the Teleholonic Systems Research Group that concentrates
on the application of biological/ecological metaphors to service activation and management tasks
in telecommunications networks.
Dr. Braun has been active in the IEEE and URSI for many years, serving as URSI Commission
C representative, as well as chairing and being on the technical committees of a number of inter-
Ian Kennedy received the M.Sc. (Eng.) degree and the Ph.D. degree from the University of the
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1985 and 1992, respectively.
He was appointed a Lecturer in the School of Construction Economics and Management at the
University of the Witwatersrand in 2006. The Kennedy matrix from his thesis has been used as
a baseline for undersea optic cable, synchronous digital hierarchy, and broadband network plan-
ning. He previously served as a Visiting Professor to the Department of Electrical Engineering,
University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa and the Department of Electrical and Elec-
tronic Engineering, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa, and Senior Research Officer in
the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of Witwatersrand. He has
served the telecommunications industry for 28 years. During this period he served as a member of
the Engineering Council of South Africa team, which accredits electrical engineering education at
examiner for postgraduate students for the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University
Africa, and Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Dr. Kennedy is a member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers.