Doctoral students completing their programs online are not significantly more likely than their peers taking traditional courses to commit plagiarism, according to a new report in the MERLOT’s Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.
David Ison, program chair and an associate professor in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s aeronautics department, examined 368 dissertations written between 2009 and 2013—half were from traditional institutions and half were from online programs.
The dissertations were then run through plagiarism-check program Turnitin for analysis and sorted into four levels:
- No plagiarism;
- Low-level plagiarism;
- Medium-level plagiarism; or
- High-level plagiarism.
Comparing the virtual doctoral students’ dissertations with those from traditional programs, Ison found that—despite common notions that online students plagiarize more often—there was no significant difference in rates of plagiarism.
“The notion that the Internet and online work are more likely to contribute to the instance of plagiarism appears to be unfounded… plagiarism should be expected to be comparable across institution types,” Ison says.