SPU’S Dr Marga Stander tackles plagiarism

Dr Marga Stander of the School of Humanities recently had a research article published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education.

Entitled, “Strategies to help university students avoid plagiarism: a focus on translation as an intervention strategy”, the article focuses on the importance of not overlooking the issue of plagiarism in an academic setting and create an awareness of plagiarism avoidance.

Creating this awareness of plagiarism avoidance among students may be achievable and teaching students certain skills to avoid plagiarism, like paraphrasing, may also be possible.

Although paraphrasing is one of the most important skills for avoiding plagiarism, it is a real challenge, particularly for English second language students. Difficulties in paraphrasing arise from lack of English language proficiency and academic writing skills as well as low reading comprehension.

Writing centres were established at a number of universities in South Africa to help students develop their academic skills through appropriate interventions. Nevertheless, additional intervention strategies need to be implemented to help them avoid plagiarism.

One such intervention, in the form of translation, was investigated at a rural university campus to test whether translation would reduce plagiarism amongst first-year students. 

A quantitative research approach was used to collect and analyse the data. Plagiarism in students’ work was detected using manual evaluations and the TurnitinTM application. 

An intervention was carried out to develop students’ skills in paraphrasing and inform them about plagiarism.

This article describes the scaffolding process followed and reports on the results found after applying the translation method.

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