Investigating Some Main Causes and Reasons of Writing Plagiarism in an EFL Context

Elham Zarfsaz, Rogayeh Ahmadi


The present study aimed at exploring the causes and reasons of the EFL learners’ plagiarism. To this end, 150 females and males TEFL students from State and Azad universities in Iran, participated the study. A questionnaire developed by Rezanejad and Rezaeibased (2013) and a semi-structured interview which were piloted on a similar sample before administering were used as the instruments of the study. To triangulate the findings, for the qualitative part of the study, a semi-structured interview including 16 questions was run with 10 learners to collect the quantitative data at the end of the study. Based on the findings of this study, it was revealed that most of the students were aware of the concept of plagiarism and had the same definition of it. Moreover, their professors used the Internet and search engines to detect plagiarism and warned them about plagiarism continuously.  The students claimed inadequate information about how not to plagiarize and less command over English language to be the main reason of plagiarism. They heard of it from their university professors, then in workshops or seminars on plagiarism, and finally from their high school teachers. Moreover, they got familiar with the concept of plagiarism through university professors, friends or family members, newspapers and magazines, Internet, TV, and radio. The implications are discussed in terms of raising learners' awareness about plagiarism in EFL contexts.



Academic dishonesty, EFL learners, Plagiarism, Writing

Full Text:



Ashworth, P., Bannister, P. & Thorne, P. (1997) Guilty in whose eyes?University students’ perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment, Studies in Higher Education, 22 (2), 187-203.

Beasley, J. D. (2004). The impact of technology on plagiarism prevention and detection: Research process automation, a new approach for prevention. [Online] Available: (August 7, 2016)

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001).Teaching English as a second or foreign language, (3rded.). United States: Heinle and Heinle.

Davis, B.G. (1993). Tools for teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Devlin, M., & Gray, K. (2007). In their own words: A qualitative study of the reasons. Australian university student plagiarise. Higher Education Research and Development, 26(2), 181-198.

Eret, E., &Gokmenoglu, T. (2010). Plagiarism in higher education: A case study with Prospective academicians. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 3303-3307.

Ghazinoory, S., Azadegan-Mehr, S., &Ghazinoori, M. (2011).Iranian Academia: Evolution after Revolution and Plagiarism as a Disorder. CiEng Ethics, 17, 213–216.

Ghasemi, M. (2013). An investigation into the use of cohesive devices in second language writings. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(9), 1615-1623.

Geiser, S., & Studley, R. (2001). UC and the SAT: Predictive validity and differential impact of the SAT I and SAT II at the University of California. [Online] Available: (August 20, 2016)

Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.

Howard, R. M. (1995). Plagiarism, authorships and the academic death penalty.College English, 57(7), 788-806.

Jensen, L. L., Arnett, J. J., Feldman, S. Sh., &Cauffman, E. (2002).It’s wrong, but everybody does it: Academic dishonesty among high school and college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 209-228.

Kolich, A. (1983). Plagiarism: The worm of reason. College English, 45(2), 141-148.

Kose, O., & Arikan, A. (2011). Reducing plagiarism by using online software: An experimental study. Contemporary Online Language Education Journal, 1, 122-129.

Leki, I. & Carson.J.G. (1997). “‘Completely different worlds’: EAP and the writing experiences of ESL students in university courses”, TESOL Quarterly, 31(1), 39-70.

Light, R. (2001). Making the most of college. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Liu, D. (2005). Plagiarism in ESOL students: Is cultural conditioning truly the major culprit. ELT Journal, 59(3), 234–241.

Loutzenhiser, K., Pita, A., & Reed, J. M. (2006). Revisiting plagiarism in an Internet era: How modern technology contributes to the problem and solutions. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 3(8), 55-62.

Mahdavi Zafarghandi, A., Khoshroo, F., & Barkat, B. (2012).An investigation of Iranian EFL Masters students' perceptions of plagiarism. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 8(2), 69-85.

McCabe, D.L., & Trevino, L.K. (1996). What we know about cheating in college: Longitudinal trends and recent developments. Change, 28(1), 28-33.

Paldy, L. G. (1996). The problem that won’t go away: Addressing the causes of cheating. Journal ofCollege Science Teaching, 26(1), pp. 4-6.

Park, K. (2003). In Other (People’s) Words: plagiarism by university students—literature and lessons. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(5), 471-488.

Rassouli, M., & Abbasvandi, M. (2013). The effects of explicit instruction of grammatical cohesive devices on intermediate Iranian learners' writing. European Online Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 2(2), 15-22.

Rezanejad, A., & Rezaei.S. (2013).Academic dishonesty at universities: The case of plagiarism among Iranian language students. Journal of Academic Ethics, 11(4), 275-295.

Richards, J. C. & Renandya, W.A. (2002). Methodology in Language Teaching: An Anthology of Current Practice. New York, NY:Cambridge University Press.

Stephens, J. M., & Wangaard, D.B. (2009). Teaching/or integrity: steps to prevent cheating in your classroom. [Online] Available: works/pdf/T eachingfor Integrity.pdf (November 3, 2016)

Spratt, M. (2001).The value of finding out what classroom activities students like. RELC Journal, 32(2), 80-101.

Stapleton, P. (2010). Writing in an electronic age: a case study of L2 composing processes. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 9, 295-307.

Walker, J. (1998). Student plagiarism in universities: What are we doing about it? Higher Education Research and Development, 17(1), 89-106.

Wall, D. (1981). A pre-sessional academic writing course for postgraduate students in economics. Practical Papers in English Language Education, 4, 34-105.

Wilkinson, J. (2009). Staff and student perceptions of plagiarism and cheating, InternationalJournal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 30(2), 98-105.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.