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Understanding Plagiarism Using Boardman's Soft Systems Methodology

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics, Academic Integrity

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1296.1 - 14.1296.18



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Paper Authors


Shobi Sivadasan Stevens Institute of Technology

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Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Systems Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. She completed her Masters in Engineering Management from Stevens in 2006 and Bachelors of Engineering in Applied Electronics and Instrumentation from India in 1998. She currently serves as Lecturer and SDOE Program Manager at the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens.

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Brian Sauser Stevens Institute of Technology

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Currently Assistant Professor in Systems Engineering at the School of Systems and Enterprises at Stevens Institute of Technology. He completed his Ph.D. in Technology Management from Stevens and his Master's from Rutgers, The State University on NJ. He came to Stevens ASRC Aerospace at NASA Kennedy Space Center. He has worked in government, industry, and academia for more than 10 years as both a researcher/engineer and director of programs related to space science research. In addition to many papers, he also co-authored a book titled " Systems Thinking - Coping with the 21st Century Problems".

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Understanding Plagiarism using Boardman’s Soft Systems Methodology Abstract

This paper explores plagiarism through the system’s lens and takes you on a journey through the complex world of plagiarism using the tools of Boardman’s Soft Systems Methodology (BSSM) to bring deeper insights into how plagiarism has proliferated the academic landscape. In a recent survey of 11 universities across the United States, Donald McCabe of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, showed that plagiarism is a growing phenomenon on campuses that, with the evolution of technology, is continuing to grow at an exponential rate. By applying the methods of systems thinking, we plan to present a deeper insight into this growing epidemic. Using BSSM as our lens and Systemigrams (i.e. Systemic Diagrams) as our modeling approach, we will map the multiple perspectives that are involved in understanding plagiarism as a system. Systemigrams allow us to represent the dynamics of a complex system in a graphical form by focusing on the relationships of the system. In this paper we will briefly review a few forms of plagiarism followed by a detailed analysis of plagiarism in the academic environment. We will also look into the reasons why students plagiarize and briefly discuss the role of technology in the manifestation and growth of plagiarism. Finally, we will present and discuss our Systemigram model and conclude with recommendations for the future state of plagiarism within the engineering education environment.

Introduction: What is the real problem?

Plagiarism, as defined by Webster’s, is “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own: use (another's production) without crediting the source” and is derived from the Latin word plagium, or “a kidnapping”. From the copying of artwork in ancient China to more current examples such as copying music lyrics or cookie recipes, the inappropriate use of another’s intellectual property has a legacy of concerns.

As an example, in June 2006, the award winning Japanese painter Yoshihiko Wada was accused of plagiarism when a striking resemblance was noted in most of his paintings to an Italian artist, Alberto Sughi1. Yoshihiko initially denied accusations saying he had

Sivadasan, S., & Sauser, B. (2009, June), Understanding Plagiarism Using Boardman's Soft Systems Methodology Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5425

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