Preventing Plagiarism

Here are strategies that some faculty members are using to help prevent plagiarism, and to catch students who submit plagiarized work.

  • Discuss why plagiarism is unfair, and how it undermines the development of thinking and writing skills.
  • Give students the OSSJA handout titled Avoiding Plagiarism: Mastering the Art of Scholarship.
  • Clearly define plagiarism and standards for proper citation, and teach students how to cite sources. This is especially important with first-year and transfer students.
  • Explain how to paraphrase, and warn students that "plagia-phrasing" (using another person's work as a model or template and just changing a few words in every sentence and/or making minor changes in word order) is considered plagiarism.
  • Explain how to deal with 'common knowledge' in your field and how to incorporate quotes or facts from sources.
  • After teaching students when and how to cite and paraphrase properly, give class a short 5-point quiz with questions such as: “True or False: Whenever you use someone else’s language, you must put their words in quotation marks and cite your source.” (Then if the student later claims they didn’t know this, you have their quiz to establish otherwise.)
  • Give specific and original prompts for writing assignments and papers.
  • Require individualized topic selection and research.
  • Do not allow late topic changes.
  • Have students turn in every stage of their work, including the topic statement, outline, notes, rough drafts, resource lists and final papers.)
  • Or, have the students write their papers using Google docs so you can see exactly when and for how long they worked on it over time.
  • Require students to submit copies of web/paper sources used.
  • Require students to submit work electronically so that you can easily check suspicious passages with a search engine or plagiarism detection software.
  • Have students give oral presentations of their work in class and answer questions about their projects.
  • Use search engines or plagiarism detection resources to check suspicious phrases for plagiarism.
  • Help students build confidence in their own abilities by providing positive feedback.

Please make it clear to your students that our Code of Academic Conduct considers reusing work self-plagiarism.  Self-plagiarism by students is usually done by submitting the same or highly similar work for more than one class, without the explicit permission of the instructor.  As with plagiarism of other's work, self-plagiarism is a violation of our Code.

It is also important to let your students know how much help (if any) they are permitted to get from other sources on their papers. If it is a language class, let them know whether they are allowed to use an electronic translator and, if so, for what specifically. If they are permitted to get “editing” assistance, let them know what kind and how much. While not plagiarism, strictly speaking, having a friend “edit” one’s paper to repair grammar, improve word choice and fix sentence structure can make it impossible for an instructor to evaluate the student's own work.  Our Code of Academic Conduct prohibits "receiving unauthorized assistance on course work," so be sure to let students know where the line is between authorized and unauthorized in your class.

Links to:

Edited 2/3/2019 by slh