EDEV_507 Week 6_3

You bring up the messy topic of plagiarism. Although I fully accept the need for doctoral candidates to show the lineage of their thoughts, there is a cultural aspect of plagiarism that prevents a simple dismissal of texts that are seen to be copied. The ethical boundaries, ironically, may be on the western researcher to show why a non-western author has plagiarised rather than simply reject the latter as being unethical. (I have written about this topic on these forum boards before in module 5 week 9, but I have adapted my writing to differ from that significantly, although the base content is completely derivative.)

At the undergraduate level in many Asian contexts, memorisation of standard answers is usual (Tran, 2013). Furthermore, a definition of an educated person in some areas is the demonstration of the ability to quote vast quantities from canonical texts (Tweed & Lehman, 2002; Valiente, 2008). The notion of this elite, educated individual who shares common values, which are derived from these texts, is the base of the Newmanian gentlemen (Newman, 2011; Trowler, 1998). This nineteenth century western ideal may be outmoded in Occidental research, but it remains both an ideal and a technique in other parts of the globe. A Chinese student of Pennycook (1996) once handed to him an essay that was completely plagiarised from another source. Like many teachers, Pennycook held a consultation with the student and asked him about the text, expecting him to not know the information. Instead, the student could from memory recall every detail and complete a perfect recitation of the text. Although Pennycook used this incident to question the ownership of language and the right to dictate how the language is used, the incident also serves as an example of how ethical issues do not fall neatly when discussing cross-cultural issues.


Newman, J. H. (2011). The Idea of a University Defined and Illustrated: In Nine Discourses Delivered to the Catholics of Dublin, (0), 440.

Pennycook, A. (1996). Borrowing Others’ Words: Text, Ownership, Memory, and Plagiarism. TESOL Quarterly, 30(2), 201–230.

Tran, T. T. (2013). Is the learning approach of students from the Confucian heritage culture problematic? Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 12(1), 57–65. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10671-012-9131-3

Trowler, P. R. (1998). Academics responding to change: New higher education frameworks and academic cultures. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.04.015

Tweed, R. G., & Lehman, D. R. (2002). Learning considered within a cultural context. Confucian and Socratic approaches. The American Psychologist, 57(2), 89–99. http://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.57.2.89

Valiente, C. (2008). Are students using the “wrong” style of learning?: A multicultural scrutiny for helping teachers to appreciate differences. Active Learning in Higher Education, 9(1), 73–91. http://doi.org/10.1177/1469787407086746

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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