Chinese University Students’ Perceptions of Plagiarism

Guangwei Hu, Jun Lei

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines Chinese undergraduates’ perceptions of plagiarism in English academic writing in relation to their disciplinary background (i.e., hard vs. soft disciplines), academic enculturation (i.e., length of study in university), and gender. Drawing on data collected from 270 students at two universities in China, it finds clear discipline-based differences in participants’ knowledge of plagiarism and perceptions about its causes; an enculturational effect on perceived acceptability of and condemnatory attitudes toward plagiarism, with senior students being less harsh than their junior counterparts; and complex interactions among disciplinary background, length of study, and gender. Furthermore, it reveals conceptions of (il)legitimate intertextuality (i.e., textual borrowing) differing from those prevalent in Anglo American academia and clearly punitive stances on perceived plagiarism. These results suggest the need to take an educative rather than punitive approach to source use in English academic writing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-255
Number of pages23
JournalEthics and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese university students
  • disciplinarity
  • enculturation
  • gender
  • plagiarism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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