On the economics of plagiarism

Alan Collins, Guy Judge, N. Rickman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cheating and plagiarism can involve the transgression of intellectual property rights across many areas of life. When a direct financial benefit from such practices is identifiable, the opportunity to seek legal redress is available via civil court action. When it is undertaken by a public official it may constitute malfeasance. Yet in the case of breaches of university regulations (from the growing number of student cheating and plagiarism incidents) subsequent legal intervention may be characterised by situations where the university is the defendant and the alleged plagiarist is the plaintiff (seeking compensation for interrupted study and/or tarnished reputation). University defences can flounder around the issue of proving intent to deceive. What can they do to try to prevent such occurrences? This paper uses economic analysis to examine such issues. Economic models of plagiarism motivated primarily by (i) time-saving and (ii) dishonesty are developed to help frame the discussion. Both model approaches overlap in their implications, namely, ensuring that sufficient resources are devoted to monitoring coursework (to increase the probability that cheating and plagiarism are detected) and of providing sufficiently clear and severe institutional penalties (to counter-balance any expected benefits that the student may perceive to be available from cheating and plagiarism). Policy proposals are raised for further debate and consideration.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)93-107
    Number of pages15
    JournalEuropean Journal of Law and Economics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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