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Plagiarism warning

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GSCC university inspectors have reported an increase in plagiarism among students on social work degree courses.

Plagiarism is a very serious matter: not only is it unfair to honest students who work hard to achieve good grades, it also contravenes the standards set out in the Codes of Practice.

The Codes clearly state that social workers and students should be honest and trustworthy. Buying or selling essays, either over the internet or to fellow students clearly promotes cheating, which breaches the Codes.

Universities are now using special software to detect copied text, and they take this matter very seriously, as do the GSCC. We will be issuing guidance this autumn to new social work students, setting out clearly the standards expected of them, which will include a section on plagiarism to try and clamp down on this behaviour.

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Detecting and deterring plagiarism is complex and it's all too simple to see it as 'let's use Turnitin and catch people who are cheating'. Sometimes the problem lies almost as much with poor teaching/inappropriate ways of assessing as with students plagiarising. See: Postle, K. (2009) ‘Detecting and Deterring Plagiarism in Social Work Students: Implications for learning for practice’, Social Work Education, 28 (4) pp 351-362

Karen Postle
25 Jul 2011


I had one of my essays plagiarised by a fellow student that had obtained a copy of it. I was warned that similarities had been detected in another student's work, thankfully my tutor knew that the other person was not capable of producing work to the standard of mine, otherwise I may have been penalised. The university would did not do anything about it in the end which is so frustrating when you have worked so hard on a piece of work!

L Shorthouse
02 Oct 2010


I was penalised for plagiarism when in fact it was my failure to understand the referencing system in the UK. I hope this will not punish innocent people like me who raised thousands of pounds to come to UK to do the course and was then penalised for failure to understand the referencing system. Thanks to the University for realising this later.

22 Sep 2010


I've just completed my first year of the social work degree, and it annoys me that universities will be using software to detect plagiarism on all students' work. As an honest and hard working student, it upsets me to realise that the vast majority are no longer trusted. However I understand that these procedures must be carried out in order for fair marks to be awarded.

Shamima Khanam
17 Sep 2010


It is not just a problem with Social Work degrees. It happens across the board. Too many courses now rely on assigned work, which students write at home, or get someone else to write it. Courses should include more exams, which will ensure that students have been working.

P Montgomery
15 Sep 2010


Having been a staff member at a college for many years I witnessed a huge amount of plagiarism on many courses (and law courses suprisingly) I have since been a student in a universtity studying social work and my suspicions continued there, I am just surprised no one has woken up to this fact until recently.

C Owen
10 Sep 2010


The thought that there is an increase in plagiarism is possibly more down to the ability to detect it. Rather than actual increase. If the act of a direct copy of the entire essay is used, clearly it would be easy to detect within a single university. However, if components of the essay are used this would make it more difficult. However, if the narrow band of information means that individuals use similar and a small level of references is ultimately will reflect a high level of similar essays. My experience of essay writing a few years ago was the expectation was to use reference books highlighted from the preferred reading. And there lies the dichotomy. If I use a different text I would possibly not get the points in my essay, and if I use the same text can be accused of plagiarism .

Graham Froom
09 Sep 2010


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