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Student perceptions of plagiarism: A study of Vietnam- and New Zealand-educated postgraduate students

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posted on 07.03.2021, 21:15 by Minh Tran
This study investigated perceptions of plagiarism among Vietnam- and New Zealand-educated postgraduate students in a New Zealand university. Informed by Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory, Bandura’s social cognitive theory of moral thought and action, and Marginson’s theory of student self-formation, various aspects of student backgrounds were explored and analysed to identify and explain factors influencing their perceptions.

An explanatory sequential mixed methods research design, qualitative dominant, was employed. The quantitative phase consisted of an online survey with 207 Vietnam- and New Zealand-educated postgraduate students at Victoria University of Wellington. Survey results informed the instrument development and purposeful sampling for the qualitative phase. 12 survey respondents with divergent understandings of plagiarism were selected for participation in a longitudinal series of interviews to seek in-depth information about their understanding and attitudes towards plagiarism, and how their perceptions of plagiarism had developed.

The findings revealed that postgraduate students held a range of different views regarding plagiarism at university. Some of them thought students were responsible for their plagiarism, viewing intentional plagiarism as a moral issue, and unintentional plagiarism as part of the learning process. The others were concerned about university’s responsibilities in terms of plagiarism education and management, considering plagiarism as a form of academic cheating, and a scholarly offence. The study found multiple influences on students’ perspectives, habits, and expectations regarding plagiarism, affirming the relevance of the underpinning theories. Students from diverse backgrounds possessed distinct sources of embodied cultural capital, including understanding of plagiarism. They developed moral standards through various environments that they interacted within. As they progressed through their doctoral studies, most students showed deepening understanding of plagiarism and the importance of correct practices. They actively developed their own voice in writing and strived to write with integrity.

The research advances knowledge about Vietnam- and New Zealand-educated postgraduate students’ perceptions of plagiarism, populations that have not been previously studied. It offers an alternative perspective to deficit models regarding plagiarism by international students by contributing rich qualitative evidence showing multiple influences on student perceptions. Findings point to practical implications to help university faculty engage with students’ needs and expectations in ways that respect their diverse social and educational backgrounds and generate meaningful and productive outcomes across student groups, thus enhancing equity.


Advisor 1

Marshall, Stephen

Advisor 2

Hogg, Linda

Copyright Date


Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education