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Plagiarism conundrum in Kenyan universities: an impediment to quality research

Joel Nakitare (University Library, Rongo University, Rongo, Kenya)
Fredrick Otike (Institute of Library and Information Science, Faculty of Humanities, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary and University Library, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Nyeri, Kenya)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 27 December 2022

Issue publication date: 28 April 2023




Plagiarism has been on the rise, mainly because of increased access to the internet and digital sources. To combat the threat of plagiarism, various universities have implemented countermeasures such as capacity building, anti-plagiarism policies and the purchase of anti-plagiarism software. In Kenya, there appears to be a lack of cohesion among universities in combating plagiarism, a situation that threatens teaching, learning and research if not addressed adequately. This paper aims to review and identify anti-plagiarism practices in Kenyan universities; it further proposed various best practices and policy actions that ought to be adopted to win the fight and the misperception of plagiarism.


This study adopted a mixed-method approach by surveying the librarians and interviewing the graduate school directors or deans to establish the strength and challenges in implementing plagiarism measures in the universities in Kenya. Before collecting data, the researcher checked the reliability of the tools by pretesting and readjusting the tools based on input from the participants.


This study established that most universities in Kenya appreciate the fact that plagiarism negatively affects the quality of teaching, learning and research. However, despite the fact that there is goodwill in the effort to combat plagiarism, there were no unified mechanisms, strategies and implementation policies in solving plagiarism issues among universities in Kenya. Different universities have adopted different strategies in terms of policy, software and capacity. Further, it was noted that the well-established/funded universities had clear stipulated mechanisms as opposed to the ill-funded universities with limited funding and budget.

Practical implications

This research provides an opportunity for universities to make an informed choice about the policies, required capacity and software to tackle plagiarism. The findings from the study will be used to improve the quality of academic writing and standardize procedures on plagiarism by proposing policy actions needed to maximize the benefits of the investments in this venture. This study recommends a collaborations approach among universities in the fight against plagiarism. Because the Kenya Library and Information Services Consortium already supports many university cooperation, they ought to take the initiative in formulating policy, choosing the appropriate software to use and developing the necessary ability in the battle against plagiarism.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first effort to evaluate the anti-plagiarism strategies being applied in different universities in Kenya. This study demonstrates the gaps and variations in university strategies in combating academic plagiarism. The findings can be applied to improve academic communication and indeed the quality of research output at other universities in Kenya and beyond.



Nakitare, J. and Otike, F. (2023), "Plagiarism conundrum in Kenyan universities: an impediment to quality research", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 145-165.



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