Preventing Plagiarism

Preventing Plagiarism

Here are strategies that some faculty members use 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, how to deal with 'common knowledge,' 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 he didn’t know this, you have his 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.)
  • 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.

Two related rules we have at UC Davis are that students are not allowed to submit the same work for more than one class and students are not permitted to receive (or provide) unauthorized assistance on papers or other coursework.

Although some faculty consider submitting the same work for more than one class “self-plagiarism,” most students seem to have difficulty with this concept, so it may be more effective to simply invoke the rule that submitting the same work in more than one class is not permitted.

It is also important to let your students know how much help 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 is really no different than simply copying material from an online source –and is also prohibited as "receiving unauthorized assistance on course work."

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Edited 10/21/2017 by slh