How Different are we? Understanding and Managing Plagiarism between East and West

  • Salah Kutieleh Flinders University
  • Tatum Syarifah Adiningrum R & D Division Binus Business School Indonesia
Keywords: international students, plagiarism, higher education, culture


While a sizable body of research on plagiarism has been conducted in institutions of higher education, only a small portion of it has involved international students from mainly non-Confucian backgrounds. This is rather surprising given the large number of students in Australia from Southeast Asia. This study has sought to contribute to redressing this imbalance by looking at Indonesian students’ understanding of the notion of plagiarism and the challenges it presents to them. We argue in this study that plagiarism is a culturally-based concept which sometimes disadvantages students from non-Western educational traditions, as is evident in the case of Indonesian students. A series of focus group interviews comprising Indonesian postgraduate students was organised to explore their perception of the issue and to seek their views on how it could be addressed in their country and at Australian universities. Students’ professional backgrounds and disciplines formed the basis for dividing the sample into five groups. Data analysis yielded interesting results. The impact of cultural values and educational backgrounds on whether students engage in plagiaristic behaviours was corroborated by the findings. The influence of religious teachings emerged as a reason preventing students from critiquing “accepted knowledge” and discouraging creative and analytical thinking which, according to the participants, lead to plagiarism. Students complained about an alarming rate of confusion and insecurity resulting from the inconsistencies in the understanding of plagiarism and the implementation of plagiarism policy by teaching and administrative staff. The implications of the findings for students and Australian universities in designing policies and academic support for students are discussed.

Author Biographies

Salah Kutieleh, Flinders University
Associate Professor Head, Student Learning Centre
Tatum Syarifah Adiningrum, R & D Division Binus Business School Indonesia
Development Coordinator R & D Division Binus Business School
How to Cite
KutielehS., & AdiningrumT. S. (2011). How Different are we? Understanding and Managing Plagiarism between East and West. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 5(2), A88-A98. Retrieved from