TEXT SIMILITUDE ANALYSIS OF MASTER DISSERTATION: A DIRECT APPROACH TO UNDERCOVER PLAGIARISM IN POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMS
Balearic Islands University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-8 March, 2022
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:There are, in the Spanish university context, three basic criteria on the basis of which the written assignments, especially Master Dissertations (MD), handed-out by students to succeed a postgraduate program and to obtain a degree are assessed. Such criteria are:
(c) and relevance of the problem or topic of the MD (De Miguel, 2010).
The objective of this work is to analyse and describe the level of originality and text similitude in MD submitted and approved in the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB). The objective of this work is to collect samples of errors or missing of citations in MD that allow illustrating the different types of conflict in the misappropriation of ideas or textual plagiarism.
The analysis carried out is based on the plagiarism detection software Turnitin that has been used to analyse a sample of 75 MD defended in the UIB in the last three academic years (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21). The sampling process was aleatory and we collected the MD object of analysis trough the UIB institutional repository. For the process and statistical analysis of the data the program SPSS version 21 was used.
The use of the anti-plagiarism program shows a low mean frequency of plagiarism or similitude in the MD analysed, but the phenomenon is not very consistent because the standard deviation is high (some students make many citation mistakes while others do not). The main mistakes or the most frequently repeated in the MD are: errors or inaccurate paraphrasing (that have been detected in more than 53% of the sample), missing proper citations in copy-pasted text (detected in 27% of the sample), lack of references (detected in 35% of the sample), omitting some elements of the citation (year, author surname or page number) that was detected in 18% of the MD analysed.
The most frequent error, as commented, is the inadequate paraphrasing that occurs when the original content structure of an original text is copied and only some words or expressions are changed, it is what in the academic literature is defined as covert plagiarism (Comas, 2009). It is an error that antiplagiarism programs detect because the secondary text follows the chain of citations of the original text, even if the wording that contains them is not followed.
The conclusion that stands out is that such behaviours will remain ingrained amongst university students (both enrolled in pre-graduate and postgraduate programs) as long as there is no explicit instruction. Proper training in academic writing skills it is needed in order to reduce the frequency and severity of plagiarism in MD in the Spanish context.
This paper is part of the project IAPOST grant RTI2018-098314-B-I00 funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 and by “ERDF A way of making Europe”.
 Comas, R. (2009). El ciberplagio y otras formas de deshonestidad académica entre el alumnado universitario. Doctoral Dissertation, Balearic Islands University.
 De Miguel, M. (2010). La evaluación de tesis doctorales. Propuesta de un modelo. RELIEVE-Revista Electrónica de Investigación y Evaluación Educativa, 16(1).
Keywords: Plagiarism, postgraduate, academic honesty.