Plagiarism by Academics in Higher Education Institutions: A Case Study of the Journal of Zimbabwe Studies

Evelyn Chiyevo GARWE, Elizabeth MAGANGA


The aim of the study was to explore the incidence and causes of plagiarism amongst academics from higher education institutions in Zimbabwe. A case study approach was used to examine 267 manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Zimbabwe Studies in 2014, by subjecting them to Ithenticate anti-plagiarism software. Interviews were carried out with 105 academics and two editorial staff members to obtain information on reasons for plagiarising. The results showed that 26% fell within the journal’s acceptable similarity index (0-10%), 20% had 11-15% whilst 54% had similarity indexes of 16-99%. The major reason for plagiarism was the pressure to satisfy the requirements tenure and promotion. Some academics took advantage of the non-electronic nature of the journal, which reduced the chances of detection. Others argued that the call for manuscripts had not indicated that they would be subjected to plagiarism detection software. Interestingly, when some authors were notified of their plagiarism offences, they indicated that the papers had already been published elsewhere showcasing yet another breach of publication ethics - multiple submission of articles to different journals. These findings raise alarm considering that academics are the torch bearers who ought to exude ethical and academic leadership. Higher education institutions should to take action on this severe violation of ethical, academic and professional standards, fuelled partly by the insistence on publications in a ‘publish or perish’ profession.

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