Plagiarism: Education, Prevention,
Students often unclear on definition
Internet makes cut and paste
plagiarism very easy
Widespread availability of
research papers for sale
"Culture of cheating"
Approaches to Dealing with the Problem:
Try to understand why students plagiarize.
They truly may not understand what
They may make poor choices related
to priorities, time management, etc.
They may be thrill-seeking.
Explicitly define plagiarism (in all
its forms) in class or in your syllabus.
Clearly state the institutional penalties
(and/or your own) for plagiarizing.
Spend time discussing proper use of
the citation format you require.
Let students know you are aware of
common methods used to plagiarize.
Let students know you will spot check
every paper for fake citations.
Design assignments to prevent
- Assign specific topics, avoiding those that are
broad or commonplace.
- Require some current sources (within the last year).
For some disciplines, requiring that no source be older than five
years may be appropriate.
- Require a variety of types of sources (books, online
or print articles, websites).
- Require a specific source be cited somewhere in
the paper. This could be a textbook, an article of your choice related
to methodology or theory, etc.
- Emphasize the process. Require students to turn
in a thesis, outline, draft, and annotated bibliography.
- Require students to keep a journal detailing their
research process or write a post-assignment essay reflecting on the
- Require an oral presentation.
- Require students to turn in copies of cited sources
with relevant sections highlighted.
Learn techniques to identify and
- Basic tell-tale clues include multiple fonts, page
number errors, formatting irregularities, web addresses printed at
page bottoms, no sources cited, mixed citation or writing styles,
anachronisms in the text, etc.
- Compare the writing to the student's earlier essays
or in-class writing assignments.
- Use targeted phrase searching in Google
or full text library databases to check for text copied from the internet.
- Search suspicious phrases in quotes. "represents a fundamental
shift in the theoretical construct"
- Remove quotes to find phrases that have been slightly altered.
good website has been developed at the University of Maryland
Dept. of Education. It is designed to check entire papers for plagiarism.
You copy and paste the entire paper into their search box and the
software will search the web for plagiarized content.
Preventing plagiarism through smart course
and assignment design:
Salt, an excellent site by Robert Harris,
author of "The plagiarism handbook" and Using sources effectively:
strengthening your writing and avoiding plagiarism, which we have in the library
(call number: LB2369 .H37 2002Y)
Relevant Journal Articles:
Johnson, Doug. "Plagiarism-proofing
assignments." Phi Delta Kappan 85.7 (2004): 549.
Madray, Amrita. "Developing students'
awareness of plagiarism: crisis and opportunities." Library Philosophy
and Practice (June 2007).
L. and Karen M. Foust. "Electronic plagiarism as a college instructor's
nightmare: prevention and detetction." Journal of Education for Business
79.3 (2004): 186(4).
Patterson, Jim. "A war of words: software
programs developed to combat the scourge of student plagiarism have found
opposition from the very circle of educators they're meant to help."
T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education) 34.9 (Sept 2007):
Reddy, Mike. "...believe
that software that prevents plagiarism prevents learning." Times
Higher Education Supplement 9 Jul. 2004: 16.
Scanlon, Patrick M.
"Student online plagiarism: how do we respond?" College Teaching
51.4 (2003): 161(5).
Soto, Julio G., Elizabeth McGee, and Sulekha
Anand. "Plagiarism avoidance: an empiracal study examining teaching strategies."
Journal of College Science Teaching 33.7 (2004): 42-48.
Sterngold, Arthur. "Confronting Plagiarism:
how conventional teaching invites cyber-cheating." Change 36.3
Plagiarism Detection Software:
of Maryland Dept. of Education (free)
Plagiarism Screening Service
of Virginia: WCopyfind (free)