Exploring Nigerian postgraduate students’ experience of plagiarism: A phenomenographic case study

Stella-Maris I. Orim, John W. Davies, Erik Borg, Irene Glendinning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In light of the high number of Nigerian students who gain admission to overseas universities for postgraduate studies, there is an increasing need to understand their background and previous study experiences. There are few studies of the experiences or views of Nigerian postgraduate students about the concept of plagiarism. The occurrence of plagiarism in the writings of some Nigerian students who travel overseas for graduate studies, like that of other students studying in a new academic context, has become a concern in recent times. This paper aims to contribute to the current research on student plagiarism around the world by exploring the concept of plagiarism of Nigerian postgraduate students studying in a United Kingdom university. It presents results from a phenomenographic study which utilised semi-structured interviews to acquire data. In analysing the data, the views expressed by participants, the manner in which these were expressed and the context in which the views were expressed were paramount. Preconceived ideas were put aside while analysing the data, letting the data speak for itself rather than viewing the data from existing theoretical structures or presuppositions. The emerging themes were noted and comparative views of experiences were arrived at from pooling and comparing quotations across several participants. An outcome space was identified and the emerging overarching theme relating to their experiences was found to be the fear of not understanding the underlying concept of plagiarism. The students expressed deep concern about the simultaneous awareness of the need to acquire the requisite academic writing skills and utilising them, while being faced with coursework and looming submission deadlines. The results and their implications are discussed with regards to the students’ adaptation and a way forward is proffered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-34
JournalInternational Journal for Educational Integrity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

This article is freely available from the open access journal The International Journal for Educational Integrity at http://www.ojs.unisa.edu.au/index.php/IJEI/article/view/845


  • Nigerian students
  • study experience
  • plagiarism
  • phenomenography


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