The Correlation Between Plagiarism and Academic Performance in Universities


In the realms of academia, virtues such as integrity and originality are held in high esteem. This is particularly true when considering the concepts of plagiarism and academic performance. Plagiarism, essentially consists of passing off someone else’s work as one’s own, and is viewed as a serious academic misconduct. On the contrary, academic performance is a quantitative measure of a student’s acquired knowledge and understanding in their chosen field of study. This article aims to scrutinize the relationship between plagiarism and academic performance in higher education institutions, with the advent of artificial intelligence tools making this analysis even more pertinent.

Definition of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is defined as the act of using another person’s words, ideas, or work without giving them due credit, thereby creating a false impression of self-creation and originality. It can take several forms, including copying and pasting text from a source without citation, paraphrasing someone else’s work excessively close to the original, or even purchasing academic papers.

Definition of Academic Performance

Academic performance, on the other hand, is a measure of the knowledge, skills, and abilities a student gains throughout their learning process. It is commonly evaluated using tools such as exams, assignments, presentations, and projects.

Significance of the Topic

The issue of plagiarism in universities has been magnified in recent years with the advent of the internet and digital tools, which have made information more accessible. This accessibility, while beneficial in many ways, has also made cheating easier. As such, understanding the correlation between plagiarism and academic performance becomes increasingly important.

Objectives of the Paper

This paper aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the correlation between plagiarism and academic performance, exploring the reasons behind plagiarism, its effects on academic performance, and strategies to combat it. Case studies will be used to further illustrate these points. The paper will also look into the future implications of plagiarism on academic performance in universities.

Comprehensive Examination of Plagiarism

Forms of Plagiarism

Plagiarism can take many forms. It can be as blatant as copying and pasting text without citation, or as subtle as paraphrasing without proper acknowledgement. Other forms include self-plagiarism, where one reuses their own previously published work without citation, and mosaic plagiarism, where one mixes copied material with their own without proper attribution.

Reasons Students Plagiarize

There are multiple reasons why students engage in plagiarism, and these can be varied and complex. One predominant reason is the lack of time. With busy schedules juggling classes, extracurricular activities, jobs, and personal commitments, some students might feel overwhelmed and resort to plagiarism as a quick solution to meet deadlines.

Another factor is the pressure to achieve high grades. In an academic environment where grades hold significant importance, students may plagiarize in the hope of securing better grades, especially for challenging essay topics.

A lack of understanding about what constitutes plagiarism is also a contributor. Not all students comprehend the specifics about when and how they need to cite sources or properly paraphrase to prevent plagiarism. 

Laziness or procrastination can also play a part. Some students might resort to plagiarism as they delay their assignments to the last minute and do not leave sufficient time for thorough research and proper writing.

Moreover, some students might plagiarize unintentionally due to poor knowledge about proper citation practices. In these instances, they might believe that they are referencing correctly when in fact, they are still plagiarizing. This underlines the need for educational institutions to provide clear guidelines and training on proper citation methods.  

Interestingly, research has shown a correlation between the complexity of essay topics and the prevalence of plagiarism. In more difficult assignments where students may struggle to understand the content or articulate their understanding, they may be more likely to plagiarize out of desperation or confusion. Therefore, educators should also pay close attention to the nature of assignments and provide necessary guidance to students. 

In summary, the reasons for plagiarism are multifaceted and intertwined, ranging from factors such as time pressure and the pursuit of high grades, to a lack of understanding of plagiarism or the complexity of essay topics.

Prevalence of Plagiarism in Universities

Numerous studies have shown that plagiarism is widespread in universities across the globe. A study by the International Journal for Educational Integrity found that more than half of the students surveyed admitted to plagiarizing.

Effects of Plagiarism

Plagiarism has numerous negative effects. It undermines the educational system, devalues genuine effort, and can lead to severe academic and legal consequences for the students involved. Moreover, it hampers the development of critical thinking and writing skills, which are integral to academic and career success.

In-depth Look at Academic Performance

Factors Influencing Academic Performance

Several factors influence academic performance. These include the student’s study habits, intellectual capability, motivation, time management skills, and the learning environment. Plagiarism, as this paper will explore, can also impact academic performance significantly.

How Plagiarism Affects Academic Performance

Plagiarism can have a detrimental effect on a student’s academic performance. It can lead to failing grades, suspension, or even expulsion from the university. Additionally, it can hinder the development of necessary academic skills.

Assessment of Academic Performance

Academic performance is usually assessed through various means such as assignments, exams, participation in class, and projects. In some universities, other elements like attendance and extra-curricular activities are also considered.

Analysis of the Correlation between Plagiarism and Academic Performance

Research Findings

Several studies have shown a negative correlation between plagiarism and academic performance. A study by the Journal of Academic Ethics found that students who plagiarize perform significantly worse in their courses than those who do not.

Interpretation of Findings

These findings suggest that plagiarism does not benefit students academically. This could be due to the fact that plagiarizing students miss out on the learning process involved in conducting research and writing papers.

Negative Effects of Plagiarism on Academic Performance

Plagiarism can lead to severe academic consequences, including failing grades and disciplinary actions. More subtly, it also robs students of the opportunity to develop important research and writing skills, thereby affecting their overall academic performance.

Strategies of Universities in Combating Plagiarism

Policies and Regulations

Most universities have strict policies and regulations against plagiarism. These typically include penalties ranging from grade deductions to expulsion.

Plagiarism Detection Software

Plagiarism Detection Software and Its Importance

In the modern age of technology, universities have adapted to using plagiarism detection software to monitor academic integrity. These digital tools, such as Turnitin, are designed to scan students’ work and compare it against a vast database of academic papers, articles, and websites. They can identify instances of copied text, improper citation, and even paraphrasing that is too close to the original source.

Considered to be the best online plagiarism checker, or, at least one of the best, used by many educational institutions is Turnitin. This software not only checks for copied content but also provides detailed reports that help students understand where they may have inadvertently plagiarized so they can correct their mistakes.

Johannes Helmold from emphasizes the importance of these tools in maintaining academic integrity. He states that these software solutions not only deter students from plagiarizing but also serve as educational resources. They help students understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it in their writing.

However, while these tools are effective in detecting plagiarism, they should be used in conjunction with other strategies such as promoting a culture of academic honesty and teaching proper citation practices. It’s essential to remember that technology alone cannot solve the issue of plagiarism; it requires a comprehensive approach involving both prevention and education.

Educational Programs

Many universities also offer educational programs and workshops to educate students about plagiarism and how to avoid it. These programs typically cover topics like citation practices, paraphrasing, and proper research methods.

The Responsibility of Students in Preventing Plagiarism

Understanding the Consequences

Students need to understand that plagiarism is a serious academic offense with severe consequences. These can include academic penalties, damage to reputation, and legal implications.

Proper Citation and Referencing

Students must learn and apply correct citation and referencing techniques to acknowledge the work of others used in their assignments.

Developing Research and Writing Skills

Developing good research and writing skills can help students express their ideas effectively, thus reducing the need to plagiarize.

Case Studies

Case Study 1: Specific University

A study conducted at a specific university can provide practical insights into the correlation between plagiarism and academic performance.

Case Study 2: Online Learning

With the rise of online learning due to the pandemic, it is also important to look into how this format has affected plagiarism and academic performance.

Case Study 3: Different Cultures or Countries

An examination of different cultures or countries can reveal how cultural perceptions and educational practices impact plagiarism and academic performance.

Future Implications

Impact of Technology

As technology continues to advance, it can have both positive and negative impacts on plagiarism. On one hand, it can make it easier for students to plagiarize; on the other, it can enhance detection efforts.

Changes in Evaluation

The future may also see changes in how academic performance is evaluated, with a potential shift towards more practical and project-based assessments, which could reduce opportunities for plagiarism.

Future Prevention Strategies

Future strategies to prevent plagiarism may include more sophisticated detection software, improved educational programs, and a greater emphasis on creating a culture of academic integrity.


The correlation between plagiarism and academic performance is clear: plagiarism negatively impacts academic performance. Universities must therefore continue to prioritize academic integrity, employing both preventative measures and punitive actions against plagiarism. Students, for their part, must understand the importance of originality and the severe consequences of plagiarism. By fostering a culture of academic honesty, we can enhance the quality and value of education in our universities.