As the global information landscape increasingly facilitate the sharing, repurposing and dissemination of information, the ways in which students are accustomed to interacting with information resources are also changing. For some new students to universities, their understanding of referencing is based solely on fear (McGowan, 2005) and many are familiar with the basic concept of plagiarism. Some students bring with them the academic process that served them well at school – however, these are not suitable at Universities (Chanock, 2008). Students understand they should not copy words without referencing, but fail to grasp the reasons why; the reasons are not explicit and often cloaked in unfamiliar and impenetrable academic language. Pak’s (2003) review of literature proved as a handy summation of the investigations, research, and thinking about plagiarism prior to the implementation of various plagiarism detection software products. There are three main schools of thought in referencing and plagiarism discourse. A punitive approach which focuses on the idea that students often deliberately engage in plagiarism and that the appropriate response is one of punishment (Blum, 2009; Sutherland – Smith, 2010; Bilic – Zulle, et. al. 2008). A Restorative Justice approach, however, suggests that plagiarism is in fact an act against a community (in this case, a community of students), and that steps need to be taken to restore a level of balance (Wenzel; et. al. 2010; Karp and Conrad, 2005; Karp, 2009; Dickson, etc. al. 2009).
An educational approach that espouses that the best method of reducing plagiarism is to educate and support students. Marking criteria and assessment tasks should be linked to building referencing skills (especially in the first year) and ensure that the students learn these skills in a discipline related context (Jaschik; 2008). The approach of both the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) and Swinburne University of Technology is clearly aligned with the third school of thought. Students lack proper understanding of the purposes of referencing. For them, referencing and citing is linked to just words, not ideas (Jackson, 2006), so referencing is regarded as separate to the writing process, instead of an integral part. To help students develop good writing and referencing practices, it is useful if universities help them understand the research culture of tertiary study. Faculties need to make their referencing rules explicit and lectures should provide useful exemplars within courses.