Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics, Islamic Azad University Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran
Plagiarism is considered to be a very serious offence in most academic communities, particularly among Western academia. There has been much discussion regarding the influential factors which result in plagiarism, such as ignorance and cultural attitudes. In the case of EFL/ESL students, it has been suggested that acts of plagiarism are often committed because students lack the proficiency to produce the academic discourse necessary to clearly express themselves. The current study was conducted to investigate what Iranian TEFL students consider as plagiarism. To do so, a survey was conducted among fourth-year undergraduate and first-year graduate students of TEFL. The results of the survey suggest that Iranian TEFL students believe direct copying of material to be an academic transgression but tolerate closely paraphrased texts. The study offers the conclusion that although plagiarism occurs frequently in the material submitted by TEFL students mainly in the form of closely paraphrased texts, it is probably due to a lack of understanding of the principles of plagiarism, rather than a deliberate act of deception.