The complex concept of plagiarism: Undergraduate and postgraduate student perspectives


  • Nozuko Princess Mbutho Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
  • Dr Catherine Hutchings University of Cape Town, South Africa



Plagiarism, Referencing, Perspective, Undergraduate, Postgraduate university students


The prevalence of plagiarism in university students’ academic writing is well documented. Its complex and multifaceted nature has made it difficult to reduce or manage. The literature reveals a lack of significant understanding of plagiarism and related concepts to be due to a poor or an absence of education, and it advocates for extensive and explicit education in what constitutes plagiarism at higher education level. In this review article we explore the literature on undergraduate and postgraduate student perspectives of plagiarism and related concepts in a global context. These perspectives are discussed under the following themes: students’ understanding of plagiarism and related literacy practices such as referencing, the reasons contributing to why students plagiarise intentionally or unintentionally, students’ understandings and views of the seriousness of plagiarism and students’ views on how to curb plagiarism. We believe that through a deeper understanding of students’ perspectives of plagiarism, we could start to develop an all-encompassing strategy to deal with plagiarism at university level.


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How to Cite

Mbutho, N. P., & Hutchings, C. (2021). The complex concept of plagiarism: Undergraduate and postgraduate student perspectives. Perspectives in Education, 39(2), 67-81.



Research articles