They use Rational Choice Theory to postulate that students weigh costs (doing the research and writing vs. finding something suitable to plagiarize) and benefits (saving time and good grades vs. chance of being caught and the severity of the probable punishment).
- They measured the frequency of plagiarism by asking the students to self-report having plagiarized in the past 6 months. Over 17 % reported having plagiarized at least once during that time frame.
- They found that the higher the expected utility derived from plagiarism, the more often students plagiarize.
- The psychological stress that results from breaking rules (internalized norms) reduces the number of incidents of plagiarism.
- The more chances there are of plagiarizing, the more plagiarism there is.
- Students do, however, seem to spend time deliberating about whether to plagiarize or not.
- diminishing the benefits of plagiarism while
- increasing the costs and the probability of detection.
- training students in scientific writing, preferably at the beginning of their studies;
- realizing that students under pressure to succeed from their parents are more likely to plagiarize;
- increasing the benefits of not plagiarizing by providing detailed feedback on the results;
- publishing information about exposed fraud as a deterrent;
- increasing the likelihood of detection by using software and Google searches;
- raising the cost of plagiarism by rescinding credit already earned or suspending students from the course or the university.
It's an interesting study (Disclaimer: I read and discussed portions of the paper with the authors) - it remains to be seen if German universities will do anything actively and openly in order to combat plagiarism.