Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

According to the Undergraduate Catalog of William Paterson University, it defines plagiarism as "the copying from a book, article, notebook, video, or other source material, whether published or unpublished, without proper credit through the use of quotation marks, footnotes, and other customary means of identifying sources, or passing off as one's own the ideas, words, writings, programs, and experiments of another, whether or not such actions are intentional or unintentional."

It further describes that "plagiarism will also include submitting, without the consent of the professor, an assignment already tendered for academic credit in another course." (Undergraduate Catalog, William Paterson University, 2002)
 

David Julian (2003). Used by permission of the publisher http://www.davidjulian.com/ill_plagiarism.html


Faculty can help prevent Plagiarism
(Proactive Strategies)

Assignment Strategies
Categories
Strategies
Rationales
Designing the Assignments   Assign papers shorter than six pages. This is the minimum length available from most paper mills.
Assign the assignment on a specific question such as unique, unusual topics, very current events, or topics specific to your institution or region and to the goals of the class. Using an open-ended, general topic may promote students' plagiarism. Most of the sources used in the papers from paper mills are very old, so current references should be required and looked for.
Require a personally conducted interview, survey, or experiment. It would preclude the use of a "catalog" paper.
Make the assignment something other than a paper, such as a process (e.g., requiring a description of the research process). It would reflect on the research and writing process at the end of the paper including what worked, what didn't and any surprises.
Require specific formatting. It will prevent plagiarizing the entire paper from the Internet.
Require multiple drafts of papers. It may prevent plagiarism because it is most often the result of panic when faced with a last-minute paper to write. Getting the students started on the process early avoids that reason.
Ask for oral presentations of papers that require students to answer questions and defend their arguments. It would force students to learn their material better, plus give them valuable experience speaking in front of others, as well as dramatically reducing the grade-point return of using someone else's work.
Requiring References   Ask for photocopies of all references with the relevant sections highlighted to be turned in with the paper. It will allow you to quickly check for plagiarism in these sources to see if the student actually wrote the paper.
Ask for an annotated bibliography, with synopses of all references. It will allow you to check the final bibliography if you are suspicious of a student's paper.
Require primary sources. Primary sources may be something as simple as statistics, or an individual's research results, or an interview.
Grading the Assignments Break down the points assigned to the paper, such as a certain number of points for the first draft, for the bibliography, for the notes, etc. The final paper itself is only a portion of the final grade for the process.
(Adapted from PBS Video Series in Critical Challenge in Distance Learning: Cheating and Plagiarism using the Internet, http://www.lemoyne.edu/library/plagiarism/, http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/editorial/97/09/29/galles.0-0.html, and http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~janicke/plagiary.htm)


Classroom Strategies

Categories
Strategies
Rationales
I am Internet savvy Let students know that you know about the paper mill sites and also that you know of web sites designed to help you catch plagiarism. Very early and clearly describing yourself as an Internet savvy instructor might help to prevent students' plagiarizing efforts.
Inform students that most of the sources used in the papers from paper mills are very old, so current references should be required and looked for. Talk about quality control and lack of guarantees (the fact that a paper got an A from one professor is no guarantee that it will from another).
Using Syllabus   Clearly state your policy on plagiarism and discuss it with students, both what it is and your policies about it. Make sure students know what plagiarism is. One student said that it wasn't plagiarism because it was on the Internet; another said it wasn't plagiarism because there was no copyright symbol. One professor tells the students that it's not plagiarism if you take it out of an encyclopedia because "that's common knowledge." Make sure they understand how to paraphrase and summarize.
Show students a bad paper from a paper mill site: analyze it in class, use it to teach them how to write a good paper. Download a few papers, discuss their strengths and weaknesses. Let students know that you know what is out there - and that most of these papers are not very good, critiquing it in class will bring that home. Encourage them by letting them know you think they could do better.
Point out the penalties. Talk about past cases; let them know that you have caught other students and tell them what happened such as failed the course, etc.
Make sure you cite sources on syllabus and handouts. By doing this, it is going to be a model for your students.
I care you Monitor students' progress in doing research and writing papers. It will show them that the instructor cares about students' progress and their academic achievement.
Acquiring a writing sample Obtain writing samples that reflect personally on the topic or the processes of research and writing, either in the paper or as an additional writing assignment. It can be used to check the student's writing style when you are suspicious about the unusually well written paper.

(Adapted from PBS Video Series in Critical Challenge in Distance Learning: Cheating and Plagiarism using the Internet, http://www.lemoyne.edu/library/plagiarism/, http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/editorial/97/09/29/galles.0-0.html, and http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~janicke/plagiary.htm)


Detecting Plagiarism (Reactive Strategies)

Using the Flags
Categories
Flags
General
 
 
The paper is much better than previous writing samples
Any portions of the original assignment completely left out
Poorly-written
Formatting
 
 
Unusual formatting - different from what you require
Anomalies of style
Written in a different style
Odd Sentences
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Off topic
More personal or relevant to the assignment than the rest of the paper
A sentence using a different verb tense or personal pronoun
Any jargon or advanced vocabulary or sentence structure
Anomalies of diction
Anachronism
Sign of being dated
Misspellings
Grayed out letters
Unusual use of upper/lower case and capitalization
"Smoking guns" - e.g., on the first page, the student mentions "Smith," but on the second page, the student mentions "John."
References
      
Mixed citation styles - Inconsistent styles of references can indicate a cut and paste job from more than one source
Lack of references or quotes
One reference that is much more up to date than the rest of the paper
Incomplete bibliographic citations
References are all older than three years
Quotes without bibliographic entries
The bibliography cannot be found in our library

(Adapted from PBS Video Series in Critical Challenge in Distance Learning: Cheating and Plagiarism using the Internet, http://www.lemoyne.edu/library/plagiarism/, http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/editorial/97/09/29/galles.0-0.html, and http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~janicke/plagiary.htm)


Tracking Down Plagiarism

Categories
Flags
With the student
 
 
Interview the student about the paper - ask for summarizing the research with the process
Let them make an oral presentation and answer questions
Let them read the suspicious paragraphs
Use a fill-in-the-blank test using the student's paper - if the student shows more than 80% accuracy, he/she did not plagiarize
With a librarian
 
 
Check the library holdings - check whether we own it and if it has ever been checked out
Check availability of student's sources - contact librarian to check student's loan history
Using the Internet
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Conduct a Web search for word strings - Some distinctive phrases or misspellings (2-3 words) and search for them as "strings" on a search engine such as www.google.com
Search for the subject directories such as www.google.com, www.lii.org, etc.
Look at commonly available electronic encyclopedias online or CD-ROM
Scan the paper mill Web sites, such as www.schoolsucks.com
Use a for-profit service such as www.turnitin.com

(Adapted from PBS Video Series in Critical Challenge in Distance Learning: Cheating and Plagiarism using the Internet, http://www.lemoyne.edu/library/plagiarism/, http://www.chron.com/content/chronicle/editorial/97/09/29/galles.0-0.html, and http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~janicke/plagiary.htm)


Selected Resources on Plagiarism

Categories
Resources
URLs
Plagiarism in general Plagiarism.org http://www.plagiarism.org/
Downers Grove North High School Library http://www.csd99.k12.il.us/north/library/plagiarism.htm
A Faculty Guide to Cyber-Plagiarism http://www.library.ualberta.ca/guides/plagiarism/
Plagiarism Stoppers: A Teacher's Guide http://www.ncusd203.org/central/html/where/plagiarism_stoppers.html
The Plagiarism Handbook http://www.antiplagiarism.com
Guide to Plagiarism at Indiana University, Bloomington http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets.shtml
Plagiarism in Colleges in USA http://www.rbs2.com/plag.htm
Probing for Plagiarism in the Virtual Classroom http://www.syllabus.com/article.asp?id=7627
Cheaters Beware: The Plagiarism Police Are Out to Get You http://www.edpath.com/AccessPlagiarism.htm
Addressing Plagiarism Through Improved Note-taking http://www.plc.vic.edu.au/Library/ plagiarism/plagpaper.htm
In Praise of Plagiarism http://www.stthomasu.ca/~hunt/plagiary.htm
Detection Service Turnitin.com http://www.turnitin.com
Edutie.com http://www.edutie.com/
Strategies Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets.shtml
Plagiarism and Anti-Plagiarism http://www.andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/plagiarism598.html
Avoiding Plagiarism http://sja.ucdavis.edu/avoid.htm
Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers http://www.virtualsalt.com/antiplag.htm

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