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One page response for this discussion post.  Must be APA, three scholarly references.

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A Brief Statement that Summarizes the Literature I Have Reviewed to Date

Researchers have found that approximately half of all undergraduate college students have committed some form of plagiarism (Blum, 2011). However, this number may be inaccurate because some students may not admit to plagiarism and because it does not take into account all ways in which students can plagiarize (Colella-Sandercock, 2015). A relatively new way for students to plagiarize is to use paraphrasing websites (Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). These are free websites where students can copy information from a source onto the website, and the website will then rewrite the information for students free of charge (Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). Although these websites are called paraphrasing websites, they do not actually paraphrase information. Instead, they replace words found in the original text with synonyms (Kannangara, 2017). This is also known as patchworking, which is considered a form of plagiarism (Howard, 1992). Sometimes, the patchworking done by these paraphrasing websites makes the new passage to sound unintelligible (Kannangara, 2017). Despite this, it has been suggested that students might use paraphrasing websites because they believe their papers will go undetected by plagiarism detection software (Kannangara, 2017; Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). However, more research is needed to support this claim (Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). There might be other reasons why students use these websites (Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017).

Academic locus of control is one theory that explains why some students choose to commit other forms of plagiarism (Bretag et al., 2014; Pino & Smith, 2003; Power, 2009). Academic locus of control refers to whether students take personal responsibility, or blame others for their academic successes or failures (Pino & Smith, 2003). Researchers have found that students with high internal locus of control, which means that they take personal responsibility for their academic successes and failures, are less likely to plagiarize than students with high external locus of control, which means that students believe that someone else besides them is to blame for academic successes and failures (Power, 2009).  However, past research findings on academic locus of control should not be generalized to students who use paraphrasing websites, because researchers did not measure this type of plagiarism in their studies (Pino & Smith, 2003; Power, 2009).

Gaps/Limitations in the Literature

Most research on the use of paraphrasing websites by college students has focused on what these websites do and the quality of the passages that are created by these websites. Less is known about why students choose to use these websites (Kannangara, 2017; Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). Researchers have found that poor time management skills, as well as a lack of understanding of how to paraphrase, cite, and reference, are reasons why students commit other forms of plagiarism such patchwork plagiarism or buying a paper from a paper mill (Emerson, Reese, & MacKay, 2005; Hart & Friesner, 2004; Pino & Smith, 2003). In addition, and as previously mentioned, academic locus of control is also a factor that contributes to other types plagiarism committed by college students (Pino & Smith, 2003). However, these results should not be generalized to students who use paraphrasing software, since the researchers did not choose to measure this type of plagiarism in their studies (Colella-Sandercock, 2017; Emerson, Reese, & MacKay, 2005; Hart & Friesner, 2004; Pino & Smith, 2003).

In addition, one limitation of current research on plagiarism is that results may not be valid (Colella-Sandercock, 2017; Walker, 2010). In addition, and as previously stated, while it is estimated that nearly half of all college students have plagiarized at some point in their college careers, the rate of plagiarism among college students may actually be higher because some students may be afraid to admit to plagiarism (Blum, 2011; Colella-Sandercock, 2017). Some researchers have suggested that having students answer closed-ended questions can lead students to lie on surveys, even when told their answers will be anonymous and admitting to plagiarism will not affect their grades in any way (Colella-Sandercock, 2017). As a result, some researchers have suggested that students might be more honest if given a chance to openly discuss any instances of plagiarism that they have engaged in (Colella-Sandercock, 2017; Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). According to Colella-Sandercock (2017), this is because students may welcome the opportunity to have their voices heard. In addition, Power (2009) found that when participants are allowed to openly discuss plagiarism, a lot of rich data can be collected.

Problem Statement

While researchers have found that approximately half of all undergraduate college students have committed some form of plagiarism, the rate of plagiarism among undergraduate college students may be even higher due to students’ reluctance to admit to plagiarism (Blum, 2011; Colella-Sandercock, 2017). While plagiarism detection software can decrease the likelihood that students will plagiarize in some instances, this software is not perfect (Heckler, Rice & Hobson-Bryan, 2013; Owens & White, 2013; Warn, 2010). When students use paraphrasing websites, or websites that rewrite information for them, this rewritten information often goes undetected by plagiarism detection software (Kannangara, 2017). Researchers have found that plagiarism detection software does not always pick up every single instance of plagiarism, and this may encourage students to use paraphrasing websites (Warn, 2006; Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). However, this assumption is based on small sample size and conjecture (Kannangara, 2017; Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). Although students may see using plagiarism websites as an easy way to plagiarize without getting caught, using such websites will not prepare students learn the material necessary to succeed in future courses, as well as their chosen careers (Gullifer & Tyson, 2010; Warn, 2006). In addition, being able to paraphrase sufficiently is a skill that needs to be mastered by students in many disciplines, such as psychology, where paraphrasing is preferred over quoting (American Psychological Association [APA], 2010; Owens & White, 2013). While academic locus of control might explain other forms of plagiarism, to-date academic locus of control among not been studied in students who use paraphrasing websites (Bretag et al., 2014; Pino & Smith, 2003; Power, 2009).

 For my dissertation, I will address the issue of plagiarism among undergraduate college students. More specifically, I will examine the use of paraphrasing websites by undergraduate psychology students, and whether academic locus of control is a factor in these students’ use of paraphrasing websites. Finally, so that participants feel more comfortable discussing a difficult topic like plagiarism, I will allow participants the opportunity to openly discuss their use of paraphrasing websites by conducting qualitative interviews.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this mixed methods study is to understand the lived experience of locus of control in undergraduate college students who use paraphrasing websites. Paraphrasing websites will be defined as any website a student uses where they copy information from an Internet source, or textbook, and the website rewords this information for the student (Rogerson & McCarthy, 20177.  Examples of paraphrasing websites include,, and (Kannangara, 2017; Rogerson & McCarthy, 2017). At this stage in the research process, locus of control will be defined as scores on the academic locus of control scale for college students (Trice, 1985).


American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological

Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Blum, S. D. (2011). My word!: Plagiarism and college culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University


Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., McGowan, U., East, J., … & James, C. (2014).

‘Teach us how to do it properly!’ An Australian academic integrity student survey.

Studies in Higher Education, 39(7), 1150-1169.

Colella-Sandercock, J. A. (2017). Self-reporting in plagiarism research: How honest is this

approach? Journal of Research Practice, 12(2).

Curtis, G. J., & Vardanega, L. (2016). Is plagiarism changing over time? A 10-year time-lag

study with three points of measurement. Higher Education Research & Development,

35(6), 1167-1179.

Gullifer, J., & Tyson, G. A. (2010). Exploring university students’ perceptions of plagiarism: A

focus group study. Studies in Higher Education, 35(4), 463-481.

Heckler, N. C., Rice, M., & Hobson-Bryan, C. (2013). Turnitin systems: A deterrent to

plagiarism in college classrooms. Journal of Research on Technology in Education,

45(3), 229-248.

Howard, R. M. (1992). A plagiarism pentimento. Journal of Teaching Writing, 11(2), 233-245.

Kannangara, D. N. (2017). Quality, ethics, and plagiarism issues in documents generated using

word spinning software MIER Journal of Educational Studies, Trends and Practices,

7(1), 24-32.

Owens, C., & White, F. A. (2013). A 5year systematic strategy to reduce plagiarism among

firstyear psychology university students. Australian Journal of Psychology, 65(1), 14-21.

Pino, N. W., & Smith, W. L. (2003). College students and academic dishonesty. College Student  Journal, 37(4), 490-500.

Power, L. (2009). University students’ perceptions of plagiarism. The Journal of Higher

Education, 80(6), 643-662.

Rogerson, A. M., & McCarthy, G. (2017). Using Internet based paraphrasing tools: Original

work, patchwriting or facilitated plagiarism? International Journal for Educational

Integrity, 13(1), 1-15.

Trice, A. D. (1985). An academic locus of control scale for college students. Perceptual and

Motor Skills, 61(3), 1043-1046.

Walker, J. (2010). Measuring plagiarism: Researching what students do, not what they say they

do. Studies in Higher Education, 35(1), 41-59.

Warn, J. (2006). Plagiarism software: No magic bullet! Higher Education Research &

Development, 25(2), 195-208.

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