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October 2023 - Year 25 - Issue 5

ISSN 1755-9715

Factors Leading Academic Writing Students to Plagiarism and Their Strategies to Avoid It

Chindy Putri Susilaningtyas is a graduate of the English Language Education Program (ELEP), UKSW, Indonesia. She entered the study program in 2019, and graduated in June 2023.  Email:

Listyani has been teaching at the English Language Education Program (ELEP) and Master’s Program in English Language Education, UKSW, Indonesia, since March 1999. In August 2017, she got her Doctorate from the State University of Semarang (UNNES) Indonesia, majoring in English Language Education. Her research interests are ELT, Teacher Training, ELTPD, SLA, and Academic Writing.  Email:

Antonius Wahyana is senior lecturer at English Language Education Program, Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana in Salatiga, Indonesia. He received a bachelor’s degree in English Language Education from the University of Sanata Dharma in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language from the University of Birmingham, UK. Besides, he participated with distinction in the Doctoral Sandwich Program at the Ohio State University, USA. His research interests include language assessment, sociolinguistics, and bilingual education.  Email:      



Writing an essay in an Academic Writing class is a challenge in gathering literature and providing evidence to make writing stronger. Adding supporting information to the essay is a necessary step, but this needs to be done carefully without falling into the trap of plagiarism. This study presents an investigation of the factors that led students in the Academic Writing class to plagiarism and their strategies to avoid it. There were ten participants from the 2020 class year of the English Language Education Program (ELEP), Faculty Language and Arts, Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana who had taken an Academic Writing class. This study reveals that three factors unintentionally caused students to plagiarize: students were not able to paraphrase properly, lack of understanding of the source texts, and students’ laziness. Furthermore, the results confirm the strategies used by participants to avoid plagiarism. There is paraphrasing the source texts, paraphrasing using an application, synthesizing the source texts, quoting the source texts  directly, and using plagiarism checkers. Hopefully, this study can make Academic Writing students be more aware of plagiarism. In addition, it is hoped that the results of the research can be useful for Academic Writing students to use appropriate strategies in to reduce plagiarism.



In English, four skills must be learned, which are speaking, writing, reading, and listening. These four aspects complete each other and if one aspect cannot be mastered then the other aspects will also be difficult to master. Writing is a challenge to learn that consists of several separate actions (Wallace, Strariha, & Walberg, 2004). Some of the actions in writing mentioned by Wallace et al. (2004) are taking notes, identifying the central idea, outlining, compiling, and editing. Writing has an important role in language acquisition for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners. Thus, to build good writing skills, EFL learners need to learn how to develop these skills well.

According to Mustafa (2016), students at the university level need skills and abilities for academic writing. In academic writing, it is necessary to use other ideas as references. To succeed in their arguments academically, undergraduate students need references for their essays. Some problems often arise in writing, such as lack of ideas, lack of vocabulary, and lack of knowledge about paraphrasing. However, students’ failure to include text from other sources can lead to plagiarism.

In the researchers’ experience, plagiarism was still a serious problem in the Academic Writing class. This happens because students are required to make an essay which also requires ideas from many sources to support their assignments. Plagiarism has also become a phenomenon that is not strange to the public. This is considered a fault because it takes someone's idea or work which is then claimed as their own.

The emergence of plagiarism in the Academic Writing class is often triggered by the low awareness of students about plagiarism itself. Ramzan, Muhammad, Nadeem, & Muhammad (2012) said that “Students’ awareness about university academic integrity and plagiarism acceptability level plays an important role in determining their attitudes towards plagiarism.” (p.75). With today’s technology and wide internet access, it is easier for students to complete their assignments. Without realizing it, the internet has provided opportunities for plagiarism because of the large amount of knowledge and materials available. That way it is very easy for students to copy and paste sources from the internet to complete their writing though they may not intend to do plagiarism. In addition, students do not paraphrase and cite sources correctly because their assumptions about plagiarism can be wrong. Most students perceive that plagiarism is not a serious threat to their academics. It is important to create and increase students’ awareness so as not to fall into the fatal mistake of plagiarism. Plagiarism is considered a serious academic error and can be punished if the intent is to gain some kind of academic value or personal acknowledgment (“plagiarism”, 2006).

With today's advanced technology, it is easier for lecturers to detect plagiarism. Although internet sources have the potential to make plagiarism easier, they are also easier to detect. McKeever (2006) said that the emergence of detectors in computer programs has now begun to be replaced by plagiarism detectors in online texts that have grown rapidly. The technology that is currently often used to detect plagiarism is a paid software called Turnitin. This kind of thing can be used as a strategy for students and lecturers to check for plagiarism.

In Academic Writing class, there is still a lot of plagiarism that lecturers find in the students’ works even though they have paraphrased sentences from sources. Seeing the urgency of this matter, the researchers decided to conduct a study in this field. Therefore, this study is aimed at finding the factors that influence students to plagiarize and students’ strategies to avoid plagiarism in Academic Writing classes. This study is carried out to answer the following questions: 1) Based on students' experiences, what are the factors that cause students to plagiarize in their academic writing? and 2) What are students' strategies to avoid plagiarism in Academic Writing class? This study might be beneficial not only for students who have difficulties avoiding plagiarism in Academic Writing but also for students who will take this class. It is hoped that this study can make Academic Writing students more aware of plagiarism. In addition, hopefully, the results of the research can be useful for Academic Writing students to use appropriate strategies in to reduce plagiarism.


Literature review

Academic Writing

Academic Writing course is a course that undergraduate students follow. Oshima and Hogue (2007) stated that the type of writing used by high school and college students in academic writing is formal writing which requires students to write complete sentences appropriately. This course aims to provide students with understanding and skills in writing with academic guidance. "Academic writing courses usually address a variety of academic genres including book reviews, experiment/ project reports, research proposals, and journal articles to familiarize students with these academic genres" (Rakedzon & Baram-Tsabari 2016). Further, students will practice critical reading and writing through summarizing, quoting, paraphrasing, and synthesizing ideas. Here students are expected to make their writings in an academic genre format. The main focus of this course is on making argumentative essays that form the basis of other academic writings.

Academic writing has many challenges for EFL students. Fadda (2012) said that at an advanced level, academic writing in English becomes a challenge even for most native speakers. The challenges include when students put ideas and other writing into their writing. Based on research conducted by Badi (2015), the result showed that one of the major difficulties in academic writing is paraphrasing, citations, and referencing. This kind of difficulty, if not overcome, will cause plagiarism in student writing.


Definition of plagiarism

The definition of plagiarism can be seen from various points of view with different understandings of the concept. Plagiarism comes from the Latin word plagiarius, which means the theft of words and slaves (Howard, 1995, cited in Gu & Brooks, 2008). Helgesson and Eriksson (2015) stated that plagiarism is when someone intentionally uses someone's idea, method, data, result, or text in their work. Similarly, other scholars have formulated plagiarism as a form of 'abuse' through the use of words and/or other people's ideas (Raeburn & Mainka, 2006). Plagiarism also usually refers to stealing words or ideas outside what is usually considered common knowledge (Park, 2003). Snow (2006) described plagiarism as using other people's ideas or terms without giving them acknowledgment.

Plagiarism is more of a concern than any other issue of academic dishonesty. Many teachers from higher education think that plagiarism in class is a form of dishonesty (Jereb, Perc, Lämmlein, Jerebic, Urh, Podbregar, & Šprajc, 2018). Somehow, the term plagiarism is an inappropriate act. Apart from being a difficult problem to get rid of, plagiarism is a growing problem (Paldy, 1996 as cited in Park, 2003). It is undeniable that plagiarism can occur at all levels of education. Therefore, students must know the forms of plagiarism and find ways to reduce or avoid plagiarism.


Types of plagiarism

Many scholars mention many types of plagiarism. Like many other things, Plagiarism is perceived differently depending on the lens through which it is viewed (Park, 2003). Although plagiarism may seem like a simple concept of claiming the work of others, there are several different types of plagiarism.

According to Wilhoit (1994), Brandt (2002), and Howard (2002), as cited in Park (2003), there are four ways students commit plagiarism. The first one is using material from other sources and passing it on as their own. For example, students copy the entire text from the source without acknowledging the author and/or submitting other students' assignments with or without the student knowing it. The second way is to look for papers from other people and send them as their own. Third, students copy some of the source text without quotation marks as if the text has been paraphrased. The last way, students paraphrase text from other sources, but they do not provide proper citations.

Meanwhile, the lexical definition of "plagiarism" (2006) is defined in Wikipedia as follows. Plagiarism is categorized into four types: accidental, intentional, unintentional, and self-stealing. According to Wikipedia, accidental plagiarism occurs because someone does not understand how to avoid plagiarism. Intentional plagiarism happens when someone intentionally uses all or part of someone else's ideas without acknowledging the creator. Unintentional plagiarism occurs when someone inadvertently has the same thoughts and ideas as someone else's. And then, self-plagiarism is the re-publishing of other people's work in another form without referring to the original.


Factors That Cause Students to Plagiarize

With the different conceptualizations of plagiarism, there is confusion about the factors that cause students to commit plagiarism offenses. For instance, Belter and Pre (2009) explained two main reasons students commit plagiarism. The first reason is intentional deception by students. Here students realize that they are taking the text from the source but are not citing and quoting inappropriately. Students usually do this because they consider it a normal action or are not even given an understanding of the consequences. The second reason is unintentional action. An example of unintentional action is when students fail to paraphrase the source's text or make references properly. The almost invisible difference between intentional and unintentional plagiarism makes it necessary to provide students with an understanding of the act of plagiarism. It is useful for enabling and developing students' abilities to engage in academic writing.

In addition, research conducted by Devlin and Gray (2007) shows several reasons Australian students commit plagiarism. The first reason is inadequate acceptance criteria. It means that the readiness of students to enter the university was lacking, and the university did not have sufficient requirements to select students who would enter the university. The second reason is the lack of students' understanding of plagiarism. One of the international students interviewed said that the cause of students' plagiarism was their lack of knowledge about plagiarism itself. In addition, the lack of students' academic abilities is also a cause of plagiarism. In this case, students paid less attention to time management in making assignments, did less research on the material, and did not understand how to make references properly. Another reason is the problem with teaching and learning. The large task load and the lack of students' understanding of the learning material made teaching and learning problems that led students to plagiarize. The fifth reason for this study was the students' laziness and convenience. Students plagiarize because they are too lazy to think of their ideas, so they can easily and comfortably use other people's work. The sixth reason university students gave for plagiarism was pride in committing plagiarism. Besides that, various types of pressure were also factors that contributed to students plagiarizing. These pressures are time pressure, stress, and pressure from family and society to pass.


Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism

With many factors that encourage students to plagiarism, this allows students to think more about strategies to avoid it. Many ways have been proposed by scholars in terms of handling plagiarism in writing. A book written by Gardner (1999) mentions two ways that can be used to avoid plagiarism, namely by paraphrasing and obeying the rules. He said that in writing, someone might need sources or references to support their writing. Paraphrasing text or information sourced from books and articles will make the writing task better. Second, it is also important to follow and obey the rules to perfect the references used in writing. The rule in question is to include citations correctly. It aims to show how much information is used in writing and acknowledge the author of the source.

Another strategy to avoid plagiarism was also proposed by Dhammi and Haq (2019). They revealed that maintaining honesty in writing is the key to avoiding plagiarism. The second strategy is by citing sources. When someone fails to give a citation, it can be categorized as an act of plagiarism. A writer must have respect for the writings and ideas of other writers. Khadilkar (2018) said that to avoid plagiarism, writers need to use original ideas and concepts for their writing. In addition, do not just copy and paste other text but also provide quotation marks and provide all sources of information.


Previous Studies on Plagiarism

The first research was conducted by Hasna, Nurkamto, and Sulistyawati (2021). The study involved nine out of twenty Article Writing students at Sebelas Maret University Surakarta. This study aimed to find out students' perceptions of plagiarism and how they can avoid it. This study explained that students have known and acknowledged plagiarism since they were in Academic Writing class. Some students also thought that the meaning of plagiarism is one of the important things in writing that must be understood. In addition, the researchers also asked about students' attitudes toward other students who committed plagiarism and their attitudes toward plagiarism itself. Some of them said they would reprimand and remind their friends not to plagiarize their work. In contrast, one student said that he would ignore it. Then, all students also agreed that they would enforce an anti-plagiarism attitude.

Further, to avoid plagiarism, Hasna, Nurkamto, and Sulistyawati (2021) found several ways proposed by students. The first strategy is that students use quotation marks to quote directly from the source text. Most of the students explained that they did direct quotations based on APA style. Second, students provided citations to the source text. Seven out of nine students revealed that they never used someone else's ideas without citing them. The last strategy students often use to avoid plagiarism is paraphrasing the source text. Almost all students said they paraphrased the text by changing the grammar and words.

Research on students' perceptions, factors leading to plagiarism, and strategies to avoid plagiarism was also carried out by Hayati (2020) at UIN Ar-Raniry Banda Aceh. This study resulted in the findings that students already understand that plagiarism is an act that is not commendable. Participants also believed that plagiarism is an act of claiming other people's ideas and is a criminal act. Students' opinion of the plagiarism found in this study was due to the tight deadline given by the teacher, so they were in a hurry. Then, the ease of accessing sources from the internet due to technological developments was also mentioned by students as a factor in their plagiarism. In addition, students' laziness, poor knowledge of plagiarism, and paraphrasing are also factors that they mentioned. The study revealed that to avoid plagiarism, students paraphrase and provide citations for the source text, understand the meaning of plagiarism, and use plagiarism detection software.

Another study was conducted by Amiri and Razmjoo (2016) on twelve undergraduate English translation students at Marvdasht Azad University in Iran. Through interviews, they found out the Iranian students' perceptions of plagiarism and the main causes of them doing plagiarism. The findings show that most of the students interviewed did not know the true meaning of plagiarism or did not understand it. Students did not know how to copy from the internet properly. They stated that their lack of understanding made them plagiarize unintentionally. In addition, the study also found the factors that made students commit plagiarism. Analysis of the data collected during the interview explained that students plagiarized because of teachers' unconsciousness toward plagiarism, lack of students' writing skills, lack of research skills, demands to submit excellent assignments, limited citation ability, limited time to submit assignments, lack of teachers' support, other students who influence to plagiarize, and students' freedom to plagiarize.

From the studies mentioned above, it can be concluded that there were some similarities in the students' perceptions of plagiarism and how they avoided it. Although many factors made students fall into plagiarism, there were also strategies that students had to avoid it. It is undeniable that plagiarism has still become a serious problem in writing up to now.  Unfortunately, there are limited studies on this topic within the Faculty of Languages ​​and Arts. One of the graduates of the English Language Education program, Wijayanti (2016), conducted a study to find teachers’ strategies to overcome plagiarism in the Academic Writing class. No study finds out from the side of the students in the class. Therefore, the author wants to conduct a study to find out factors leading to plagiarism and strategies to avoid it based on students’ opinions.



Context of the study

The study was conducted at the Faculty of Language and Art (FLA) of A private university in Central Java, Indonesia. The location is in Salatiga, Central Java, Indonesia. This faculty has three majors, which are the English Language Education Program (ELEP), the English Literature Program (ELP), and the Music Arts Program.

The researchers conducted the study on the English Language Education Program (ELEP). In this program, there are some kinds of writing courses which are Creative Writing, Procedural Writing, Professional Narrative Writing, Writing for The Media, and Academic Writing. To be specific, the research was conducted at the most advanced level of these writing courses which is Academic Writing. The data were collected in the second semester of the 2022/2023 academic year.


Participants of the study

The participants of the study were 10 students from batch 2020 of the ELEP who were willing to be interviewed. The participants were students who took the Academic Writing course in the first semester of the 2022/2023 academic year. Those participants were chosen to get some information from their experience in dealing with plagiarism in the Academic Writing course.


Data collection method

The study used a qualitative method to investigate factors leading students to plagiarize and their strategies to avoid it. By using a qualitative method, the researchers could obtain more descriptive results and conclusions could be drawn quite easily from the data obtained. The selection of this method also aimed to get wider information and to dig up in-depth participants’ experiences related to the topic of this study.


Data collection instrument

In order to collect the data, semi-structured interview protocols were used. The researchers asked the same question to different participants. The questions asked were written in the interview protocol. The questions for the interview were composed in the form of open-ended questions. In addition, probing questions other than those in the interview protocol also be asked. The researchers gave follow-up questions to get further answers from participants in order to develop the quality of the first answer, so that the next one is clearer, more accurate, and more reasoned. Thus, the researchers will get in-depth information from interview participants. Moreover, the interview session lasted for about 10-15 minutes. The researchers asked questions using Indonesian. It hopes that by using Indonesian, the interview process will be clear and there will be no miscommunication or misunderstanding with participants.


Data collection procedures

In the process of collecting data, there were several procedures that the researchers did. First, the researchers asked random students of batch 2020 who had taken the Academic Writing class for their willingness to participate in interviews. The researchers did not ask the course coordinator and teacher for permission because the participants had taken the Academic Writing course. Second, the researchers made an appointment with the participants. If it is not possible to meet, the interview will be conducted via Zoom or WhatsApp call. After that, the interviews were conducted according to the agreed time. During the interview, the researchers asked for permission to record the process of interviews.  


Data analysis procedures

After the interview results were collected in the form of a recording, the researchers analyzed the data. It seems thematic analysis has become the most suitable method to analyze the data. It was chosen to draw themes based on the participants’ answers. First of all, after getting the data, the researchers listened to the recordings and transcribed them. Second, the data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Then, themes were drawn. After that, the researchers grouped the data according to the themes. The findings were reported and discussed in the next section. Lastly, the researchers drew some conclusions.


Findings and  discussion

This section reports the results of data collection that has been carried out in the second semester of the 2022/2023 academic year. Ten students of the 2020 academic year were interviewed. The discussion is to answer the two research questions regarding the factors that caused Academic Writing students to commit plagiarism and the strategies that students used to avoid plagiarism.

Factors leading students to plagiarism

From the interviews, it was found that several factors influenced students to plagiarize in their writing assignments in the Academic Writing class. In this question, students gave different answers. Based on the answers, there were several factors, as shown below:


1. Not being able to paraphrase properly

Three participants (Student 1, Student 7, and Student 10) said that lack of expertise in paraphrasing was one of the factors causing plagiarism in their writing. In this case, they did not change the words and sentence structures of the sources they got. The following are the comments from Students 1 and  10 regarding this matter:

Excerpt 1:

“If not consciously, it is more like for example the structure has not been changed. Then the words were not replaced with synonyms so it was detected as plagiarism” (Student 1, Interview, January 30, 2023


Excerpt 2:

“In my opinion, perhaps the paraphrasing was incorrect. So there were words that were still similar to the original, some words like that.” (Student 10, Interview, February 14, 2023)

Regarding this statement, Student 7 also considered that her lack of good paraphrasing of sentences was also the cause of her getting plagiarism feedback from the lecturer. She explained as follows:


Excerpt 3:

“For example, we paraphrase but are still 80% similar. I think it is the most dangerous and definitely gets feedback from the lecturer.” (Student 7, Interview, February 13, 2023)

In Academic Writing, it is necessary to paraphrase if students want to use supporting sentences from other journals. Based on the statement above, the researchers found that three participants had problems paraphrasing the text. When they got the text to support their writing, they had difficulty changing words and changing sentence structures. Shi (2012) said that paraphrasing or restating the source text in your own words with credit to the original author is an important process of rewriting the source text. So, academic writing students need to hone their paraphrasing skills to successfully avoid plagiarism.

Students' inaccuracy in paraphrasing usually occurs because the writing that students paraphrase is still the same as the original sentence. This is in line with Park (2003)’s statement that “Some students plagiarize unintentionally when they are not familiar with proper ways of quoting, paraphrasing, citing and referencing and/or when they are unclear about the meaning of ‘common knowledge’ and the expression ‘in their own words’.” (p. 479).

Based on researcher experience, proper paraphrasing can be done in several ways. The first one is replacing the essential words of the original part with other words that have the same meaning. Second, rearranging the structure. The last is changing parts of the speech, such as changing a gerund into an operative verb or changing an adjective into a word. Description. Paraphrasing can be done with a note that the result will not change the meaning of the source text.

2. Lack of understanding of the source texts

Based on interview data, it was revealed that one student accidentally plagiarized due to a lack of understanding of the source texts. The researchers found that Student 6 had difficulty understanding the words and sentences taken from supporting journals. About this, Student 6 said:


Excerpt 4:

“Maybe because I did not really understand the topic to be paraphrased, so I was confused about what to do so I did not plagiarize. In my opinion, from the beginning, I did not know the meaning of the sentence, so I just wrote it into my essay so that it looked like the original sentence I got from another journal.” (Student 6, Interview, February 13, 2023)

Based on the interview, Student 6 committed plagiarism because at first, she did not understand the sentence she got from the source. That way she also has difficulty converting sentences into her own sentences. Moreover, she felt careless in changing the sentence because of the misunderstanding earlier, so in the end the sentence was not much different from the sentence from the source.

Since academic writing needs a lot of supporting journals, understanding the sentences obtained from the source is a very good and important first step to avoid plagiarism. With this understanding, it will be easier to change words and sentence structures without changing the meaning of the sentence. Shi (2012) in his research stated that students successfully avoid plagiarism by paraphrasing or citing depending on their knowledge base in both languages and content. Especially L2 students may have difficulty understanding what accuracy and how much space is there to interpret the source content.


3. Students’ laziness

According to the participants’ answers, laziness was one of the factors that influenced students to plagiarize. Darwish and Sadeqi (2016), in their study also said that a factor encouraging students to plagiarize comes from their personal factors such as laziness. From the interviews, Student 6 believed that laziness in changing the source sentence is the reason why plagiarism still happens. She explained as follows:

Excerpt 5:

“Maybe it was to finish quickly and I was too lazy to change the sentence, so I just had to copy and paste the source sentence without giving credit to the author.” (Student 6, Interview, February 13, 2023)

From the statement above, it is shown that students sometimes took the easiest way to complete their essays. The Academic Writing class requires students to search for journals on  the internet to support their essays. However, students may not be aware that these activities can lead them to commit plagiarism if they are not careful. Writing a statement about this, Doan (2012) wrote:

This is to say, the convenience of the internet that provides abundant information in any academic field could be a very big temptation for lazy students to commit plagiarism. Besides, it is much easier to cut and paste than to paraphrase from the others’ works. (p. 27)

Laziness in paraphrasing, quoting, or even citing sentences from source journals can cause students to commit plagiarism. In other words, they just take the fast way by just copying and pasting from the source journal.

In line with this, the other participant believed that laziness in thinking and reading journals thoroughly and carefully was what caused her to commit plagiarism. Student 8 gave an explanation as shown below:


Excerpt 6:

“Sometimes I was too lazy to read and understand journals to support my essay. So that my mind to write it went blank and created plagiarism by just copying and pasting the sentence.” (Student 8, Interview, February 13, 2023

Based on the statement above, it is understandable that students' laziness in thinking and understanding source journals can also cause plagiarism in writing. Many studies found that plagiarizing in writing is easier to do and makes students lazy to think (Gilmore, 2009, as cited in Darwish & Sadeqi, 2016). From the present study, it can be seen that students who are stuck on writing their essays seem to be reluctant to think of ideas to complete their essays. As a result, they only looked for supporting journals and did not read the entire text. When they found the idea they were looking for, they were limited to copying and pasting statements from the text without realizing that it resulted in plagiarism.


Strategies students used to avoid plagiarism

To overcome the problem of plagiarism in the Academic Writing class, the students provided several strategies to avoid plagiarism in their academic writing. The strategies are as follows:

1. Paraphrasing the source texts

Throughout the interview, the researchers found that all students used paraphrasing techniques to avoid plagiarism in their assignments. They paraphrase the sentence by changing the vocabulary and sentence structure. To clarify the findings, Student 4 described the strategy as follows:


Excerpt 7:

“I often used paraphrases because when I used quotations I often got feedback that the format was wrong. I usually changed the sentence structure so that it did not look the same as the sentence from the source journal. If I just changed the synonyms without changing the structure, sometimes they still looked similar. Besides sentence structure, I also changed the words. So I changed the structure, I also changed the words and I did my best to find synonyms for the sentences I would use. I was looking for synonyms that as much as possible did not change the meaning of the source sentence.” (Student 4, Interview, January 31, 2023)

Another participant, Student 5, explained more specifically that the paraphrasing technique she used to avoid plagiarism was changing the sentence structure from active to passive or vice versa. Student 5 said:


Excerpt 8:

“For me, I paraphrased by looking for synonyms and changing the sentence structure from active to passive or vice versa.” (Student 5, Interview, January 31, 2023)

Based on the results of this research, paraphrasing may be a favorite strategy used by Academic Writing students. It can be seen from all participants who used this strategy to avoid plagiarism in their writing. Students paraphrased in two ways. The first was by looking for synonyms of verbs in the sentences. The second was by changing the sentence structure. As Student 5 had said, another way can be to change the active voice into a passive voice. Mariani, Rahayu, and Nor (2021) in their study stated that students most often used synonyms and condensed the original word, followed by changing various structures, changing parts of speech, and expanding phrases to clarify sentences. Students who avoided plagiarism used a general paraphrasing strategy in addition to simply changing the synonyms of several words, they changed the components of the original text into new components that expressed the same idea (Keck, 2010).

Nevertheless, it is important to bring students to their attention that there are strict requirements for their paraphrasing and that it must be as close to the original text as possible without copying and pasting. Students who decide to use this strategy must really understand the proper techniques for paraphrasing. Even though this strategy is widely used, it cannot be denied that there may still be many students who need to pay attention to the results of their paraphrases. As found in the study conducted by Relia, Daud, and Delfi (2021), students need exposure and more practice in paraphrasing to write effective paraphrases.

2. Paraphrasing using an application

According to the interview, seven students (Students 2,3,4,5,6,8, and 10) revealed that they used an application to paraphrase. Apart from paraphrasing manually, they also used an application called Quillbot to help them perfect the sentences they paraphrased. To clarify the finding, Student 6 and Student 8 said the following:


Excerpt 9:

“At first I paraphrased manually, then my classmate gave me a suggestion to use the QuillBot application. So after using it, I did not directly copy and paste from QuillBot, but I checked the paraphrase results again.” (Student 6, Interview, February 13, 2023)


Excerpt 10: 

“I usually paraphrased manually, but if the sentence is difficult to paraphrase, I paraphrase it using QuillBot” (Student 8, Interview, February 13, 2023)

According to the statements above, QuillBot is the most popular application that students use to paraphrase ideas from journal sources. Williams and Davis (2017) as cited in Fitria (2021), explained QuillBot as an online application that can help paraphrase writing to avoid plagiarism, summarize sentences, and change grammar to make it look good and precise.

Another piece of research said that this application provides a helpful solution for paraphrasing when teachers and students have limited ideas for paraphrasing manually (Kusuma, 2020, p. 64). This is in line with Student 8's statement that when she found ideas from journals that were difficult to paraphrase, she used this application as an aid. From the findings, it can be seen that the influence of technology is still very visible to avoid plagiarism in the Academic Writing class. QuillBot is one of the advanced applications that can help students avoid plagiarism, especially in paraphrasing ideas from other researchers.


Synthesizing the source texts

Based on the results of the interview, the researchers found that one of the students (Student 5) said she used a synthesizing strategy to complete her essay in Academic Writing class. She used this strategy by combining sentences from journal sources that have the same idea. Student 5 explained as follows:


Excerpt 11:

“Synthesizing is also very helpful. If we find several ideas from different authors, they can be combined into one better sentence.” (Student 5, Interview, January 31, 2023)

From Student 5’s statement above, it was revealed that synthesizing is a strategy that students can also use to avoid plagiarism in writing their essays. Synthesizing can be done by combining ideas from several authors that have the same meaning or content. Accomplishing a well-synthesized essay or assignment requires more effort from the writer than simply assembling pieces of information from multiple sources (Williamson & McGregor, 2011). This is the same as paraphrasing, synthesizing also requires the right technique and accuracy in reading supporting journals to get good synthesis results. Williamson and McGregor (2011) also stated that effective note-taking, especially, is important to establish good practice in synthesizing habits because the ability to synthesize information also has a key role in avoiding plagiarism. With this, it can be said that an inappropriate synthesis can also result in students committing plagiarism unconsciously. Therefore, students need a wider understanding of synthesis techniques and frequent practice in synthesizing from other journals.


3. Quoting the source texts  directly

This part of the study reveals another strategy used to avoid plagiarism by quoting. One student (Student 3) through an interview said that besides paraphrasing he also used direct quotations to use ideas from other journals. In this case, Student 3 stated the following:


Excerpt 12:

“Apart from paraphrasing, an easy way for me to take ideas from other journals is by quoting. I think it's easy because I just copy and paste the text. If I use quotations, I don't forget to include the author and the year of publication.” (Student 3, Interview, January 31, 2023)

Based on Student 3’s statement above, it seems that quoting is the easiest strategy to avoid plagiarism in Academic Writing class. Quoting means copying a piece of text or sentence  word for word. When students have found ideas to support their essay, they only need to copy and paste the text to quote it directly. This includes selecting part of the source text that is most relevant to the topic written. Then rewrite the source text appropriately and provide quotation marks. However, when quoting, students still have to include the author's name and year of publication so that it is not considered plagiarism. The study by Fazilatfar, Elhambakhsh, and Allami (2018) stated, “Whenever authors paraphrase or quote from sources directly, they should give credit to the words and ideas taken from others” (p.11). Thus, quoting will make it easier for students to add ideas from other authors but must also be written correctly so as not to impact plagiarism.


4. Using plagiarism checkers

According to the interview, two participants revealed that they used plagiarism checkers to avoid plagiarism. Student 4 and Student 10 used a Grammarly application after they finished their essay to check whether there was plagiarism or not. Participant 4 explained as follows:


Excerpt 13:

“To make sure there was plagiarism or not, I often checked my writing in Grammarly. So apart from paraphrasing, I also checked Grammarly to be sure.” (Student 4, Interview, January 31, 2023)

A similar perception was revealed by Participant 10.


Excerpt 14:

“When I finished writing, I checked for plagiarism with the application. I usually use the Grammarly application.” (Student 10, Interview, February 14, 2023)

From the students’ answers above, it can be seen that technology is also very helpful in avoiding plagiarism in writing. An online plagiarism checker can be an option when students are not sure if there is plagiarism in their writing or not. There are a lot of plagiarism checkers that students can use. Meanwhile, the researchers found that Grammarly became the choice of the two students to check for plagiarism. Nirmala and Jayaraman (2020) stated that the best tool that supports learners and researchers for better writing skills and to avoid plagiarism easily is online plagiarism checkers. The idea of ​​plagiarism software and plagiarism checker helps in greater knowledge and efficient writing.


The most effective strategy used to avoid plagiarism

In this part of the study, the researchers examined the most effective strategies students use to avoid plagiarism in Academic Writing class. Nine out of ten students had the same opinion about the effectiveness of the strategies used to avoid plagiarism, that is, by paraphrasing. To clarify this finding, Student 1 and Student 4 pointed out:


Excerpt 15:

“Paraphrasing is an effective method because the level of plagiarism is lower than direct quotation. Then by paraphrasing if we have found a statement from the source, we can use it by paraphrasing the sentence.” (Student 1, Interview, January 30, 2023)


Excerpt 16:

“The most effective, of course, is paraphrasing, especially with the help of tools. I don't know why if the words are paraphrased using that tool it becomes more interesting and more beautiful than what I made.” (Student 4, Interview, January 31, 2023)

From the findings above, the researchers could indicate that most students apply the paraphrasing strategy during the writing process. The students also stated that this strategy became the most effective strategy used. According to Student 4's statement, even though paraphrasing takes quite a lot of time, she believed that paraphrasing is effective to use.  Paraphrasing allows students to continue to incorporate ideas from others into students’ essays.

As a comparison, there is another strategy that is more effective to use, namely quoting directly. A study conducted by Sowell (2018) showed that direct quotations can be included effectively in an essay. However, when writing an essay, it is not possible to include all the ideas obtained by quoting. Moreover, as Student 1 stated, she believed that quoting is more prone to plagiarism than using paraphrasing. Therefore, it can be concluded that paraphrasing is a strategy that is also effectively used. Students can simply rewrite source ideas into their own words, especially with the help of a paraphrasing tool, that can  make this strategy even more effective to use. There are so many applications or online platforms to help students avoid plagiarism in their writing assignments without taking too much time.



The purpose of this study is to answer these research questions: 1) Based on students' experiences, what are the factors that cause students to plagiarize in their academic writing? and 2) What are students' strategies to avoid plagiarism in Academic Writing class? According to the interview results, all the students had personal factors that cause plagiarism and strategies to avoid it which are different from one another.

As discussed in the findings, there were three factors revealed by the students that caused them to commit plagiarism. The first factor is students were not being able to paraphrase properly. The inability of students to paraphrase properly can result in students copying and pasting from other people's journals. The second is a lack of understanding of the source texts. This lack of knowledge can also result in students only copying and pasting from other journals. The last factor that appeared in this study was student laziness. In this case, students felt lazy in changing the supporting sentences they got from the source journal. Therefore, students took the easy way by just copying and pasting the sentences.

The researchers also found that there are five strategies that students usually use to avoid plagiarism in their academic writing. The first strategy is by paraphrasing the text. This strategy seems to be the most effective because all students use it. Second, when doing paraphrasing strategies, students also used a paraphrasing application called Quillbot. The third strategy used by students is synthesizing text from source journals. Students synthesized by combining sentences from several different sources that had the same idea. Another strategy used is by quoting the source text directly. This strategy was used when students only wanted to copy and paste the source text by including citations. The last strategy is using a plagiarism checker. From the research results, students used Grammarly to ensure that there was no more plagiarism in their academic writing.

After exploring the factors that students commit plagiarism in Academic Writing class and how they avoid it, this research is still far away from perfect. This study was limited to ten participants, which means this study covers a small scope. Therefore, for further research, the researchers suggest increasing the number of participants so that they can explore more from many perspectives. In addition, further research can also ask participants more deeply in order to get more in-depth results.



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