Perceptions of Authorial Identity in Academic Writing among Undergraduate Accounting Students: Implications for Unintentional Plagiarism

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Northeastern University]On: 12 November 2014, At: 10:12Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Accounting Education: An InternationalJournalPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/raed20</p><p>Perceptions of Authorial Identityin Academic Writing amongUndergraduate Accounting Students:Implications for UnintentionalPlagiarismJoan Ballantine a &amp; Patricia McCourt Larres ba University of Ulster , Northern Ireland, UKb Queen's University , Belfast , Northern Ireland, UKPublished online: 16 Apr 2012.</p><p>To cite this article: Joan Ballantine &amp; Patricia McCourt Larres (2012) Perceptions of AuthorialIdentity in Academic Writing among Undergraduate Accounting Students: Implications forUnintentional Plagiarism, Accounting Education: An International Journal, 21:3, 289-306, DOI:10.1080/09639284.2011.650452</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639284.2011.650452</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. 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Terms &amp;</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/raed20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/09639284.2011.650452http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639284.2011.650452</p></li><li><p>Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>12 1</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Perceptions of Authorial Identity in</p><p>Academic Writing among Undergraduate</p><p>Accounting Students: Implications for</p><p>Unintentional Plagiarism</p><p>JOAN BALLANTINE and PATRICIA McCOURT LARRES</p><p>University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK; Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK</p><p>Received: November 2010</p><p>Revised: June 2011; September 2011</p><p>Accepted: October 2011</p><p>Published online: April 2012</p><p>ABSTRACT The current study explores first, second and third-year UK accounting studentsperceptions of authorial identity and their implications for unintentional plagiarism. The findingssuggest that, whilst all students have reasonably positive perceptions of their authorial identity,there is room for improvement. Significant differences in second-year students perceptions werereported for some positive aspects of authorial identity. However, results for negative aspectsshow that second-year students find it significantly more difficult to express accounting in theirown words than first and third-years. Furthermore, second-years are significantly more afraidthan first-years that what they write will look unimpressive. Finally, the results for approaches towriting, which also have implications for unintentional plagiarism, revealed that students acrossall years appear to adopt aspects of top-down, bottom-up and pragmatic approaches to writing.Emerging from these findings, the study offers suggestions to accounting educators regardingauthorial identity instruction.</p><p>KEY WORDS: Unintentional plagiarism, authorial identity, approaches to writing</p><p>Introduction</p><p>Academic dishonesty at college level appears to be a very real problem with one recent</p><p>study describing cheating in US college classes, rather alarmingly, as rampant</p><p>(Simkin and McLeod, 2010, p. 441). This is of particular concern to professional accoun-</p><p>tants in that, what students learn as acceptable behaviour in the classroom impacts on their</p><p>Accounting Education: an international journal</p><p>Vol. 21, No. 3, 289306, June 2012</p><p>Correspondence Address: Professor Joan A. Ballantine, Department of Accounting, Room 03C23, University</p><p>of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim BT37 0QB, UK. Email: joan.ballanti-</p><p>ne@ulster.ac.uk</p><p>This paper was edited and accepted by Richard M.S. Wilson.</p><p>0963-9284 Print/1468-4489 Online/12/03028918 # 2012 Taylor &amp; Francishttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639284.2011.650452</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>12 1</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>expectations of what is acceptable professionally (Swift and Nonis, 1998). Given the bad</p><p>press which accounting has received in the wake of major scandals such as Enron and</p><p>WorldCom, this apparent epidemic of cheating by college students does not augur well</p><p>for the ethical future of accounting and the trust we, as accountants, are seeking to re-</p><p>establish with the public as regards our honesty, integrity and reliability.</p><p>The definition of what constitutes cheating at college level may vary, depending on the</p><p>research study. However, there is one area of academic cheating which appears in most</p><p>definitions, namely plagiarism. According to the Oxford Dictionary, plagiarism is</p><p>defined as the practice of taking someone elses work or ideas and passing them off as</p><p>ones own. Notwithstanding this concise definition, Bennett (2005) argues that:</p><p>in the context of university education . . . plagiarism does not have a single meaning and canrange from the citation of a few sentences without attribution through to the copying out of anentire manuscript (p. 138).</p><p>Given this continuum, it is understandable that students might be confused as to when</p><p>they are engaging in plagiarism. For example, students may be unsure of when they can</p><p>claim a concept or an opinion as their own if the inspiration for it came from another</p><p>source. Similarly, they may be uncertain as to whether referencing the source is sufficient</p><p>when including another authors idea verbatim in their text (Ashworth, Bannister and</p><p>Thorne, 1997). By the time they reach tertiary education, students are so used to</p><p>cutting and pasting school projects from the internet without acknowledging others</p><p>intellectual property, that plagiarism becomes a grey area of academic dishonesty</p><p>wherein they may perceive it to be less serious than, say, cheating in an examination.</p><p>Indeed, the instant availability of information via the internet has done much to influence</p><p>the readiness to take others ideas and pass them off as ones own (McLafferty and Foust,</p><p>2004). Park (2003) includes this general lack of understanding of what constitutes plagiar-</p><p>ism as one of the reasons for its incidence in higher education. He argues that a general</p><p>lack of understanding occurs among students</p><p>when they are not familiar with proper ways of quoting, paraphrasing, citing and referencingand/or when they are unclear about the meaning of common knowledge and its expressionin their own words (p. 479).</p><p>This general lack of understanding, Park (2003) argues, can lead to unintentional</p><p>plagiarism.</p><p>Whilst a number of empirical studies have explored students perceptions of intentional</p><p>plagiarism (see, for example, Bennett, 2005; Kidwell and Kent, 2008; Gullifer and Tyson,</p><p>2010), there has been less work which has specifically addressed the issue of unintentional</p><p>plagiarism. One recent study which has addressed this issue is that of Pittam et al. (2009).</p><p>Responding to calls from a number of authors (see for example, Park, 2003; Valentine,</p><p>2006) for a more holistic approach to plagiarism which recognizes that students may</p><p>not actually understand plagiarism and be prepared to deal with it when they enter</p><p>higher education, Pittam et al. (2009) developed a research instrument, the Student</p><p>Authorship Questionnaire (SAQ), which measured attitudes towards authorial identity</p><p>in academic writing among UK psychology students. Authorial identity refers to the</p><p>sense a writer has of themselves (sic) as an author and textual identity they (sic) construct</p><p>in their (sic) writing (Pittam et al., 2009, p. 159). Authorial identity, Pittam et al. (2009)</p><p>argue, is strongly linked with unintentional plagiarism in that, if the former is poorly</p><p>developed, then the latter is more likely to occur.</p><p>Whilst unintentional plagiarism has been considered to some extent in other literature, a</p><p>review of the accounting literature reveals no study which has investigated unintentional</p><p>290 J. Ballantine &amp; P. McCourt Larres</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>12 1</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>plagiarism by assessing accounting students perceptions of their authorial identity. To this</p><p>end, the objective of the current study is to address this deficiency and to add to the</p><p>accounting literature on plagiarism by exploring first, second and third-year undergraduate</p><p>UK-based accounting students attitudes to authorial identity and the implications of these</p><p>for unintentional plagiarism. The study achieves its objective by drawing on Pittam et al.s</p><p>(2009) Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) as a means of assessing students percep-</p><p>tions of authorial identity. In particular, the study considers whether students perceptions</p><p>of authorial identity differ across an accounting degree programme. It is anticipated that</p><p>the results of the study will enhance accounting academics understanding of students</p><p>perceptions of issues surrounding authorial identity in academic writing and the impli-</p><p>cations of this for unintentional plagiarism. Additionally, the findings of the study are</p><p>intended to help inform discussions regarding the development of meaningful instruction</p><p>to reduce unintentional plagiarism within accounting programmes.</p><p>The study addresses its research objective in the following manner. Firstly, a literature</p><p>review presents a comprehensive consideration of research in the area. Secondly, the</p><p>research methodology applied to the study is set out. Thirdly, the results of the tests under-</p><p>taken are explained in detail, analysed and discussed in full. Fourthly, conclusions are</p><p>drawn and further work identified.</p><p>Literature Review</p><p>It is widely acknowledged that plagiarism is a significant and growing problem within</p><p>higher education (see, for example, Franklyn-Stokes and Newstead, 1995; Ashworth</p><p>et al., 1997; McCabe, Trevino and Butterfield, 2001; Gullifer and Tyson, 2010). Given</p><p>its importance, the issue of plagiarism has been studied in a number of contexts (see,</p><p>for example, Bowers, 1964; McCabe and Bowers, 1994; Roig, 1997; Allmon, Page and</p><p>Robert, 2000; McCabe and Trevino, 2002; Bennett, 2005; Kidwell and Kent, 2008;</p><p>Gullifer and Tyson, 2010). One of the earliest studies to consider the issue of academic</p><p>dishonesty was that of Bowers (1964). Using data from 5000 US college students</p><p>across a large number of campuses, Bowers (1964) reported that 66% of the undergraduate</p><p>business studies students surveyed engaged in one or more incidents of academic dishon-</p><p>esty. Furthermore, Bowers (1964) findings suggested that honour codes were associated</p><p>with lower levels of cheating. Bowers (1964) seminal study paved the way for a number</p><p>of further large-scale multi-campus studies of academic dishonesty in the 1990s. For</p><p>example, McCabe and Trevino (1993) surveyed more than 6000 US students enrolled at</p><p>31 academic institutions. A number of variables were investigated by McCabe and</p><p>Trevino (1993) including the impact of honour codes, students understanding and accep-</p><p>tance of a schools academic integrity policy, perceived certainty that cheaters will be</p><p>reported, perceived severity of penalties, and the degree to which students perceive that</p><p>their peers engage in cheating behaviour. Based on this work, they reported that peer be-</p><p>haviour had the most significant relationship with student cheating (see also McCabe and</p><p>Trevino, 1997). McCabe and Trevinos (1993) findings also replicated those of Bowers</p><p>(1964) which suggested that lower levels of cheating are associated with institutions</p><p>that have an honour code environment.</p><p>In a follow-up study conducted across the same campuses as Bowers (1964) original</p><p>work, McCabe and Bowers (1994) surveyed 1800 students enrolled in US universities.</p><p>They reported a dramatic increase in self-reported cheating among male undergraduate</p><p>college students between 1963 and 1991. In addition, and confirming the earlier results</p><p>of both Bowers (1964) and McCabe and Trevino (1993), McCabe and Bowers (1994)</p><p>Perceptions of Authorial Identity in Academic Writing 291</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Nor</p><p>thea</p><p>ster</p><p>n U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>12 1</p><p>2 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>reported that academic honesty is higher and levels of self-reported cheating lower where</p><p>academic institutions have an honour code.</p><p>Drawing on a smaller sample size than earlier studies, Diekhoff, LaBeff, Clark, Wil-</p><p>liams, Francis and Haines (1996) report on various cheating behaviours, including plagi-</p><p>arism, amongst first-year US introductory sociology and psychology undergraduate</p><p>students. Using data collected via a questionnaire, they compare cheating behaviours</p><p>between 1984 and 1994. The results of the study indicate significant increases in the per-</p><p>centages of students who reported cheating on quizzes and classroom assignments over the</p><p>10-year period. Diekhoff et al. (1996) also report that:</p><p>. . . traditional mechanisms of social control are largely ineffective in deterring academic dis-honesty. Internal controlsconscience and guilt are weak. Internal controls, such as friendsdisapproval of cheating clearly do not exist (p.500).</p><p>In the UK, one of the earliest large-scale studies to consider students perceptions of cheat-</p><p>ing behaviours, including plagiarism, was that carried out by Newstead, Franklyn-Stokes and</p><p>Armstead (1996). Their study reported on the perceptions of 943 second and third-year under-</p><p>graduate UK students who were studying a range of subjects. Newstead et al. (1996) reported</p><p>that both age and gender were significant determinants of cheating behaviour, including pla-</p><p>giarism, with more mature students cheating less than younger students. Additionally, the</p><p>results suggested that males engage more in cheating behaviour than do females. In a later</p><p>paper, Allmon, Page and Robert (2000) examined the factors that impact on business students</p><p>perceptions of ethical classroom behaviour, including plagiarism....</p></li></ul>

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