Nigeria: Plagiarism, a Major Flaw in Research - Expert

Researchers have been warned against plagiarising the works of others as is now the trend in modern writing globally.

They were also urged to be aware that there are new technologies used to spot plagiarism in intellectual works.

Olusesan Makinda, a consultant for the Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC), gave the warning Saturday while presenting awards to outstanding researchers who participated in the research writing fellowship organised by the centre.

The award ceremony was held during the three-day maiden edition of the National Conference on Adolescent Health and Development in Nigeria organised by the Society for Adolescent and Young People's Health in Nigeria (SAYPHIN) between April 10 and 13.

Last May, DRPC offered research and writing fellowships to post-graduate students, health reporters, officials in think-tanks and leaders of NGOs to conduct research and write essays and blogs on the topic of investing in human capital for national development.

According to the centre, about 20 researchers selected from hundreds of applicants participated in a one week workshop and were awarded a research grant of N100, 000 each to conduct research and produce an essay in their chosen topics.

Before presenting awards to researchers, whose works were rated outstanding on Saturday, Mr Makinda decried the volume of plagiarism flagged in most of the essays turned in.

The growth of the Internet over the past decade has given rise to unprecedented access to information which has resulted in increasing plagiarism.

With plagiarism detection software readily available, and in use, culprits are now easily detected.

"Plagiarism was a major flaw in most of the research works we rated. It's a major problem, not just Nigeria but across the globe," he told PREMIUM TIMES immediately after the event.

"Gladly, there is software that can be used to detect plagiarism in published works. We used this software to detect researchers who plagiarise other peoples works.

"Most Nigerian researchers are not aware of this technology and how to avoid been flagged by them. It seems like they are not properly educated on what plagiarism is.

"You can't use a continuous sentence of more than 50 words without putting it in a quote. If you don't attribute, where you got it from, it will be flagged by the software.

"Young researchers need to know about these software and how to avoid plagiarising the works of others. This is a major principle of writing."

Research winners react

Three researchers came first in the competition. They were given N200,000 each.

Turnwait Michael, one of the first winners, who researched 'primary healthcare under one roof in Lagos' explained how he was selected for the competition.

"I am a PhD student of the University of Ibadan. I chose the research to work in Lagos because I realised that Lagos is one of the metropolitan cities in Nigeria and challenges that may affect Lagos affect other states. I wrote on primary healthcare per ward, as a component of PHC under one roof."

Also, Eshiet Idongesit Ukpong, a lecturer at the department of sociology in the University of Lagos also expressed delight.

DRPC said the research competition was "a deliberate project it embarked on to generate more discussions on the challenges Nigeria is facing in the area of human capital development".

It said an additional 120 applications are being processed for the second phase of the writing and blog competition.

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