Plagiarism and Cheating

January 4, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 1
Are they becoming more acceptable in the Internet age?
By Sarah Glazer


Kaavya Viswanathan was accused of plagiarism in her novel (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)
When Harvard student Kaavya Viswanathan was accused of plagiarism in her novel How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, she said the copying had been “unconscious.” But after passages were found to have been copied from multiple authors, the publisher recalled the novel and canceled Viswanathan's contract. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Cheating scandals among some of the nation's best students at Harvard University and New York City's Stuyvesant High School have highlighted a problem experts say is widespread. In surveys, a majority of college and high school students admit to cheating on a test or written assignment. Some experts blame the cheating culture on cutthroat competition for college admissions and jobs. The simplicity of copying from the Internet or cribbing from smartphones makes plagiarism and cheating easier, teachers say. However, in the case of works of art and entertainment, some see a refreshing new ethic of sharing and “remixing” creative material in digital media. Researchers find that cheating increases when educators “teach to the test” instead of emphasizing learning. But experts question whether shifting to learning for learning's sake is realistic when public school funding now depends on standardized-test results and families think their children's future depends on high grades.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Standards and Testing
May 06, 2022  Standardized Testing
Jan. 04, 2013  Plagiarism and Cheating
Apr. 29, 2011  School Reform
Education Standards and Testing