Although agree with Sodden that culture plays a significant role in students’ learning styles, and perhaps in the way plagiarism is interpreted cross-culturally, would like to argue that culture is not the only influencing actor and should not be seen as solely responsible for plagiarism in students’ academic work. To support my points, I will first provide examples on how plagiarism is viewed in Vietnam. Then, I will argue that there appear to be several reasons why Western academics may rush to accuse overseas students of plagiarism.Plagiarism is not at all acceptable in Vietnam While Sodden seems to suggest that Asian culture contributes to the act Of plagiarism, I would point out that plagiarism is never allowed or made legitimate by Vietnamese culture or education.
For example, even at primary school level, if a pupil copies another pupil’s ideas to reproduce them in his/ her very basic compositions (such as a description of one’s favorite pet), his/ her teachers and classmates will criticize and help that pupil realize that it is unacceptable to copy others’ ideas for one’s assessment purposes.
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Also, it is not unusual for school teachers to require students found popularizing to write down 100 times the same promise ‘l will never steal others’ ideas/ writing again’. These practices show that plagiarism is viewed as unethical. If the term plagiarism in English is ‘laden with negative and moral connotations’ Comparison et al. 2004: 172), the Vietnamese terms for plagiarism, dado van and an cap y/van, have the same or even more negative connotations.These two terms clearly and straightforwardly condemn the act of cheating in writing, specifically stealing, robbing, and copying others’ writing or even making someone else’ writing one’s own by using sophisticated cheating techniques. Although memorizing model essays or famous ideas is common in Vietnam, this is not at all for plagiarism purposes.
Showing respect to authority or showing politeness in academic writing does not mean encouraging plagiarism, either.In Vietnam, it is usual to quote Ho Chi Minim’s famous statements, such as ‘nothing is more precious 76 LET Journal Volume 60/1 Jan aura 2006; DOI: 10. 1093/let/chichi a The Author 2006. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved. Than independence’, and we always acknowledge the source by adding ‘says Uncle Ho’. We may not provide the name of the documents, the year of publication and the publishers, but it is acceptable because his famous statements are considered common knowledge.It is this difference in the understanding of what is considered ‘common knowledge’ in different courses communities and how these communities treat common knowledge, that sometimes leads to misinterpretation of students’ writing as plagiarism.
Reasons for overhasty accusations of plagiarism Stereotypes of Asian students Many academics in the West have a misconception that overseas students always have academic problems, and numerous studies have documented this tendency clearly (Cumulatively 2003; pan Lee Ha 2001). Kiwis, they hold stereotypes about Asian students, among which obedience to authority and lack of critical thinking are the most common (Cumulatively pop. Cit. ). These two stereotypes are even interpreted as cultural characteristics of Asians which legitimate the act of plagiarism in Asian societies. Sodden (AAA) shows this quite clearly, and Lieu (2005) responds to this misleading interpretation convincingly. Insufficient training in academic writing Comparison et al.
(pop. Cit. Show that although universities are often very explicit about penalties against plagiarism, they are not aware of the fact that their students are not trained explicitly and sufficiently in how to do citation and referencing in academic writing. Ironically, as these authors demonstrate, while there are obvious assumptions that students need to communicate in the language of the academic discourse community, whether this discourse community has done enough to facilitate students’ membership is often ignored.My own past experience as a postgraduate student in Australia and that of many of my students (both local and overseas) in Australia strongly support this argument. It seems that those who write curricula and syllabi assume that there is only one way of writing and this way is universal, and we all must know the norms of English academic writing. Thus, little training is even, and students are unreasonably expected to understand and follow strictly the PAP or Harvard styles with regard to citation and referencing.
So is it fair to accuse those who do not know that they plagiarism of plagiarism? Furthermore, to be admitted to a course in English-speaking countries, most overseas students must have a high enough LILT S or T OWE F L score. With LILTS tests, students have to take a written test, in which they have to do two tasks, neither of which involves developing their arguments based on any reading references. Thus, while being prepared for LILT S tests, students are to taught at all about citation and referencing. So is it fair to expect students to know all about citation and referencing straightaway?