What's behind the rise in plagiarism among academics?

There's been a worrying spike in the instances of plagiarism among academics in South Africa over the last five years.

A recent study carried in the SA Journal of Science reveals a steady increase in academics plagiarising their colleagues’ work in the management sciences.

The University of Johannesburg's Professor Adele Thomas is the author of the study and spoke to Cape Talk's John Maytham about her findings.

A lot of attention is paid to student plagiarism but less attention is paid to the academics who have published work that may be plagiarised.

Adele Thomas, Department of industrial psychology and people management professor - University of Johannesburg

Thomas says the plagiarism is significant and widespread.

This is not a case of just lifting a phrase... this is substantial lifting and cutting and pasting from original work into the new work.

Adele Thomas, Department of industrial psychology and people management professor - University of Johannesburg

She claims the rise in plagiarism can be put down to pressure on academics to publish, often in order to secure sought-after promotions.

While the university may look at teaching and your admin capacity etc, there is no doubt that what is really measured... is the number of publications you have.

So there is extreme pressure for academics to publish in volume.

Adele Thomas, Department of industrial psychology and people management professor - University of Johannesburg

Additionally, says Prof Thomas, academics are under pressure from universities to publish in order to receive substantial government grants.

Each academic paper that is published earns about R100,000 from the government in terms of subsidies to the university. So this is a huge incentive for universities to get their academics to publish.

Adele Thomas, Department of industrial psychology and people management professor - University of Johannesburg

Listen to the full interview below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : What's behind the rise in plagiarism among academics?


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