Plagiarism Statistics Calculation

Mike Deep • August 7, 2015

Statistics are often used to show the differences between countries. Some examples are tax rates, crime rates, alcohol consumption, and… plagiarism rates. Each of these statistics, including plagiarism statistics, has its own calculation methods. So how is the plagiarism rate measured?

Methods For Obtaining Plagiarism Statistics

There are at least 4 different acknowledged scientific methods for calculating the unemployment rate. Likewise, there are also several different ways to collect plagiarism statistics:

  1. Plagiarism survey. With this method, students or teachers are questioned about their practices. These surveys include questions like “Do you plagiarize?” or “Do you know somebody who plagiarizes?“.This type of survey shows how people act in their everyday academic practice. This may be a good approach to exploring plagiarism, but it has many vulnerabilities. Students or teachers can simply lie about their plagiarism. And collecting such data can be quite expensive.
  2. Penalties for Plagiarists. Some universities provide statistics on the number of students caught plagiarizing. Combining these statistics on a national level may show how widespread plagiarism is. This method is similar to that of showing the smuggling rate. With this method, some percentage of violations are always revealed. However, the percentage of revealed violations may differ in different countries. One country (or university) may have very strict guidelines on plagiarism, while another country (or university) may be very lenient towards plagiarism violations. There is also the possibility that some universities may try to cover up plagiarism scandals and publicize only extreme cases. The number of plagiarists caught doesn’t seem to show the real plagiarism statistics.
  3. Polls concerning tolerance of plagiarism. Some researchers conduct polls with questions like, “Do you think plagiarism is always bad?”. It is believed that plagiarism statistics are directly correlated to the tolerance of plagiarism as a whole. Surprisingly, there are always students who say plagiarism is sometimes acceptable – they feel they have valid reasons for saying so. However, tolerance of plagiarism is not the same as plagiarism itself.
  4. Plagiarism checker statistics. Internet tools for checking plagiarism provide huge amount of information, starting with how many uploaded documents contain plagiarism, what is the average percent of plagiarism detected in the document, and even what the probability of plagiarism is in certain documents. A good plagiarism checker may show precise national plagiarism statistics. Some plagiarism checkers, like ours, are international, providing plagiarism check services in different countries. The strongest benefit of international systems is that they provide comparable data for different countries because all the data is collected using the same methods. This is undoubtedly the best and most accurate way to explore plagiarism rates across the world.