Technology and academic virtue: Student plagiarism through the looking glass

Cynthia Townley*, Mitch Parsell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Plagiarism is the misuse of and failure to acknowledge source materials. This paper questions common responses to the apparent increase in plagiarism by students. Internet plagiarism occurs in a context - using the Internet as an information tool - where the relevant norms are far from obvious and models of virtue are difficult to identify and perhaps impossible to find. Ethical responses to the pervasiveness of Internetenhanced plagiarism require a reorientation of perspective on both plagiarism and the Internet as a knowledge tool. Technological strategies to "catch the cheats" send a "don't get caught" message to students and direct the limited resources of academic institutions to a battle that cannot be won. More importantly, it is not the right battleground. Rather than characterising Internet-enabled plagiarism as a problem generated and solvable by emerging technologies, we argue that there is a more urgent need to build the background conditions that enable and sustain ethical relationships and academic virtues: to nurture an intellectual community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalEthics and Information Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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