Plagiarism. The Soviet Union legacy.

Today I am presenting my first blog dedicated to the plagiarism. It’s not a secret, that plagiarism is a significant issue in Kazakhstan. All Kazakhstan is talking about plagiarism, that we should decrease cases, we should stop it. But how could you stop plagiarism, if the root of plagiarism plunged so deeply because of the great impact of the Soviet Union. So, “to copy” is in our DNA.

The USSR depressed everyone by its ideology. It was considered against the system if you express your opinion that is not suitable for the existing ideology.  According to Burkhalter and Shegebayev (2012), people afraid, so the ideology was mainly based on fear: “You are scared of (someone) – means you respect (someone) [Boishsya -znachit uvazhayesh] (p.66). The fear-based approach was everywhere and as a result, people were afraid of being ashamed and embarrassed about not knowing something. People lost their understanding of honesty, as they plagiarize each other in order to save themselves from the shame and humiliation of not knowing. In addition, the reason of plagiarism originated from the lack of critical thinking approach in teaching method of the Soviet teachers.

plagiarizeNow, I want to give a piece of my experience of the impact of the Soviet Union legacy. I was born in 1991, the year of the USSR collapse, when Kazakhstan started to be free of the Soviet Union regulations. But I experienced the impact of the Soviet Union legacy at my school where there was hierarchical and strictly regulated governance. The most specific one is teacher-centered learning, which means I have to listen but not to talk. I was not taught to speak and express my feelings. I was afraid, because I did not know what to say, and if my opinion was correct or not. Usually it was valued a lot when the students repeated word-to-word the teacher’s lectures. The same situation can be noticed at schools today.

One more thing is that it is really funny, when you observe how teacher helps you to plagiarize, for example in the UNT by giving you access to cheat.  But why do they support students in plagiarizing? Because we have strange educational system where teacher’s performance depends on the student’s achievements, thus they encourage students plagiarize in order to get good results (Burkhalter, Shegebayev, 2012, p. 66). It gives a feeling that the teacher needs good results more than students.

The first correct understanding of plagiarism I got at Nazarbayev University. In Kazakhstan we have strict rules about plagiarism at NU only, but what about other universities?!

I am not sure that we will come closer to the countries with high quality assurance and reduce cases of plagiarism in Kazakhstan. 24 years passed from the time we got independence and we still have the impact of the Soviet Union legacy that prevents reducing plagiarism. How many years do we need to solve this issue?


Burkhalter,N., Shegebayev, M. (2012). Critical thinking as culture: teaching post-Soviet teachers’ in Kazakhstan. 58, 55-72.

4 thoughts on “Plagiarism. The Soviet Union legacy.

  1. Dear ameliaspage, you are absolutely right saying that Plagiarism and cheating in our mentality, which needs a long path and time to get rid of it.
    But I remembered one reading that carried slightly joking sayings, and made me understand that there is a thing we should learn from plagiarizing. For instance, Stephen Fry (cited in Martin Pitt’s) jocosely says that plagiarism, specifically copying and cheating teaches as to succeed in politics and business world, as these are the main actions and skills that are used by politicians and business players; and this is very true and severe phenomenon happening nowadays. It might work sometimes in this cases, but not with the professions that are inextricably connected to serve people. Such as engineering, surgery etc. The one thought, that you might get to lie down under the scalpel of unqualified doctor who cheated and copied at school, makes you shiver and doubt to trust him/her your life. But you never guess that, from the first time.
    It is very vital to educate our society and children to value the self-work and take responsibility on giving the credits to the author who proposed the idea.
    Pitt, M. (2005). The problem of plagiarism. TCE, (770), 57-57.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the interesting post. Indeed, plagiarism is one of the most vital topics in educational circuses. However, it seems like people started to understand its threat. Nowadays, a little headway was made in active struggle against the plagiarism in educational and science fields. I am not aware of other universities tactics against plagiarism, but, I believe, NU’s anti-plagiarism policy will contribute to the quality of our education. “Intentionally using the quotes of others without author attribution is plagiarism and contributes to illiteracy.” – Rain Bojangles. Source:


  3. Plagiarisim is the common desease of Kazakhstani students and teachers. This is because as you have said it is a bad legacy of Soviet education. But universities started to control plagiarism of students and teachers. What do you think how can students and teachers change their writing culture left by Soviet Union?


  4. It is also notable that even though some universities may want to implement plagiarism control in their practices, not every university can afford the subscription fee of Turnitin, and there are no analogs which are as efficient in the post-Soviet space created due to the different academic outlook, putting universities at a crossroads of choice on the issue of plagiarism.


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