Cultural constructions of plagiarism in student writing: Teachers' perceptions and responses

Shih Chieh Chien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


While the topic of plagiarism in student writing has received much attention in previous research, relatively few studies have examined teachers' perceptions of plagiarism, and these have tended to focus on how teachers from English L1 countries understand plagiarism (Flint, Macdonald, & Clegg, 2006). Yet given that approximately 80% of English teachers worldwide are nonnative English speakers (Braine, 2010), research that can shed light on these teachers' practices of defining, detecting, and preventing plagiarism in student writing is urgently needed. The present exploratory study considers teachers' perceptions and cultural constructions of plagiarism in student writing in Taiwan. Results from a survey and interviews with 23 Taiwanese teachers reveal that a number of cultural factors influenced student plagiarism during writing. These teachers understood plagiarism as being influenced by the Chinese words piaoqie (to rob and steal) and chaoxi (to copy and steal). They also suggested that an emphasis on social relationships and reciprocity in writing, in addition to students' lack of experience in citing sources appropriately, may lead to both intentional and unintentional plagiarism in students' writing. These results suggest that plagiarism in this Taiwanese context might be a by-product of the Confucian educational tradition that emphasizes memorization and repetition. Unintentional plagiarism could be closely linked to unawareness. In this case, lack of intentional wrongdoing by students may be due to the influence of culturally rooted definitions of the word plagiarism, suggesting that inexperience is likely to be a contributing factor behind student plagiarism. Implications for pedagogy and further research are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-140
Number of pages21
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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