Read Preventing Plagiarism: A Student Guide text version


Preventing Plagiarism: A Faculty Guide

A Guide for Faculty and Administrators

"It is the little writer rather than the great writer who seems never to quote, and the reason is that he is never actually doing anything else." Havelock Ellis

SU TurnItIn Plagiarism Prevention Service - "Turnitin provides originality checking, online grading and peer

review to prevent plagiarism prevention and engage students in the writing process. Turnitin encourages best practices for using and citing other people's written material and offers instructors ways to save time and improve their feedback on the writing process. The service offers a complete webbased service to manage the process of submitting and tracking papers electronically, providing better ­ and faster ­ feedback to students."


How big is the problem?

No one knows for sure, but estimates of students engaging in plagiarism range from 20% - 90%; the real figure is probably somewhere in between these two extremes. Studies are usually based on student self-reporting surveys. Most educators would agree, however, that they are seeing more incidents of flagrant, deliberate plagiarism now than in the pre-web era. Although there are reports of plagiarism occurring in elementary grades, the greatest concern is directed toward plagiarism at the high school and college levels.

Why do students commit plagiarism?

A survey of the literature/anecdotal evidence suggests that the most common reasons students plagiarize are: Ease and convenience of obtaining material from the Internet View of the Internet as a one-stop source of free material to be used as needed Belief that electronic plagiarism is hard to detect Student-generated values: "Everybody does it," "It's cool" and "It's no big deal" Time-management problems; procrastination Poor academic preparation: deficits in composition and research skills; lack of knowledge about proper attribution Attitudinal problems (e.g., "I'm not interested in this course; I just need to make a passing grade") Societal acceptance of taking whatever measures are necessary to succeed Cultural differences in the perception of, and attitudes toward, plagiarism

How is it done?

Although a few students resort to elaborate, high-tech methods, most student plagiarism is actually not very sophisticated. It usually employs one or more of the following methods: Downloading previously created papers from the so-called term-paper web sites Using term-paper web sites to purchase custom-designed papers that supposedly meet the specific requirements of the assignment Copying legitimate papers and articles from the Web Cut-and-paste from one or more electronic sources Using ideas, concepts or conclusions from other sources without acknowledgement Paraphrasing without acknowledging source

Detection Methods

Look for obvious clues; it might be plagiarism if...

the bibliography contains obscure or even non-existent works, or works not readily available locally and online the bibliography lists works that are not really relevant the paper or project doesn't really fit the assignment criteria the vocabulary is too advanced (or too elementary) for the student the content is too sophisticated (or too simplistic) for the student the content is disjointed with no logical connections between paragraphs the writing style changes from one section to another the paper uses a different citation format than the one you specified, or uses a mixture of citation formats the paper contains references for which there is no listing in the bibliography the topic has been written about countless times before (e.g. `Was Hamlet really mad?,' `The effects of smoking on health,' `Why we should/should not have capital punishment,' `Slavery was/was not the cause of the Civil War') there's no evidence of original thinking two or more students turn in highly similar papers

If you suspect plagiarism...

Talk to the student... No need to confront, just question (I noticed that..," "I wondered about..," "How did you..," Tell me about ...")... Investigate... Search for a distinctive phrase in several search engines Use plagiarism detection services, if available SafeAssign - turnitin - Glatt - Eve2 - Check library holdings and online availability of books and journals cited Ask a reference librarian for assistance in identifying sources and using search engines

Prevention Strategies

Help make plagiarism an issue on campus; involve faculty, administrators and students in discussion of the problem Be familiar with the University's policy on academic integrity State your policy clearly and firmly, but first make sure it has departmental support Teach about plagiarism in every course Don't assign or approve paper topics that have been used repeatedly Keep an in-class writing sample for every student If possible, monitor research papers at several stages of development Share your ideas and experiences with colleagues

Web Resources

Information about plagiarism

Plagiarism and the Web - an insightful article describing practical methods for dealing with plagiarism in the classroom, with links to other useful web pages - Student Plagiarism in an Online World - advice from an information security consultant on how to understand and detect plagiarism from online sources. Includes links to various "Plagiarism Fighting Tools" Plagiarism and Anti-plagiarism - an excellent outline for faculty/administration discussion and policy-making; also includes links to additional information about detection - Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research papers - lots of practical advice on how to handle plagiarism issues in the classroom, including teaching suggestions - A Faculty Guide to Cyber-Plagiarism - an extensive collection of information about how and why plagiarism occurs and measures that faculty can take to prevent it; a well-organized and comprehensive approach to the problem by the University of Alberta Libraries -

Resources for teaching about plagiarism

Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Recognize and Avoid It - demonstration of how and how not to paraphrase and examples of "common knowledge" - (Indiana University) Avoiding Plagiarism - an entertaining guide for students showing rules and examples in tabular format for quick reading - (Purdue University) What is Plagiarism? ­ a discussion of many aspects of plagiarism including cultural differences, help from other students, etc.; written by students for students - (GU Honor Council)

For Further Reading

Harris, Robert A. The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism. Los Angeles: Pryzak, 2001. Blackwell Library: REF PN 167 .H37 2001 "Probably the most practical and thorough guide to all aspects of the plagiarism problem, from administrative issues to detection and teaching. A special feature is a collection of witty cartoons that can be reproduced for (copyright permission is included) educational purposes." Numerous articles about plagiarism are routinely appearing in academic journals and in the popular press. Many of these are available in full-text through two of the library's online databases (off-campus access to databases, through ResearchPort at, is limited to SU faculty, students and staff who are registered in Blackwell Library: Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) Lexis-Nexis Academic

Blackwell Library ­ Revised 10/22/2012


Preventing Plagiarism: A Student Guide

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