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Faculty Plagiarism Resources: Prevention and Detection

Prevention

Simply put, plagiarism is the use of someone's words or ideas as your own. When writing a research paper or making an oral presentation, you must cite all the sources used whether from a book, a printed article or an electronic resource found on the web.

The age of "cut and paste" online information makes it easier to cyber-plagiarize than ever before.  However, the same online resources that make it simpler to plagiarize also make it easier for individuals to detect instances of academic dishonesty.

Understand Why Students Plagiarize

Students may not intend to plagiarize but might simply be unaware or misinformed.

  • May be unfamiliar with citation styles
  • May lack appropriate research and writing skills

Students may also be confused about issues surrounding copyright and plagiarism.

  • Don't understand what's an appropriate paraphrase vs. plagiarism
  • Incorrectly perceive online information as non-copyrighted public knowledge
  • Pressure to do well in school

Of course, there are a few bad apples who plagiarize willfully.  Educate yourself!  The informed consumer of information is less likely to plagiarize or to be victimized by acts of plagiarism.

  • Define plagiarism for your students, and help them learn to recognize its many forms.
  • Discuss plagiarism as an ethical, moral and legal issue. Point out that it's an issue of trust between a student and a faculty member as well as among student peers.
  • Articulate the consequences of plagiaristic acts for students.  At UNCA, academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade on an assignment or test, or a failing grade in the course. In some cases students may be referred for expulsion or other serious University sanctions.

Design Plagiarism-Resistant Assignments

Here's a suggested list to aid in designing plagiarism-resistant projects.  Consider stipulating that your assignment requires:

  • Detailed components
  • Specific number and type of sources (in extreme cases, ask students to provide a first-page copy of each article, book or website)
  • Information the instructor provides (i.e., incorporate article, book or data set into paper)
  • Personal interview (current and verifiable source)
  • Process steps with successive due dates such as a topic or problem statement, outline, bibliography, rough and subsequent drafts that reflect revised development, etc.
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Recent sources (within the previous year outdates most paper mill offerings)
  • Oral or written "writing process" summaries or evaluations
  • Students to engage and apply ideas using synthesis, not mere description
  • Consult with a librarian when creating assignments (what resources are available in our campus network?)

There are many fine plagiarism education tutorials, guides and handouts available on the web.

General Resources

Plagiarism
Comprehensive site with links to articles about plagiarism, intellectual freedom and copyright created by Sharon Stoerger (in conjunction with UIUC). Provides links to guidelines, detection tools, paper mills and other resources. Truly one-stop plagiarism shopping.

Electronic Plagiarism Seminar
Another fine site notable for its frequently updated plagiarism "In the News" section.  Includes a handy list of common term definitions (copyright, common knowledge, intellectual property) as well as prevention and detection strategies.  Created and maintained by Librarian Gretchen Pearson of LeMoyne College.

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention
For those who prefer a more concise, easily navigable site, Baylor University Libraries' page lists and links to excellent resources.

Tutorials

What is Plagiarism?
Indiana University's basic tutorial that educates students about what does (and doesn’t) constitute plagiarism, by Ted Frick.

Plagiarism Tutorial
North Carolina State University's version.

Guides and Handouts

Research Resources
Site of the popular TurnItIn detection service that provides good definitions, guidelines and printable handouts.

University of Alberta Guide to Plagiarism
Well structured site with handouts and online resources for both faculty and students.

Detection

Be alert in order to detect clues and red flags within assignments.  Ask yourself about these common indicators of plagiarism:

Inconsistency:

  • Quality of writing differs in sections?
  • Does it contain stylistic variations (fonts, headers, links, layout)?
  • Paper/outcome differs from actual assignment?

Student work exceeds his/her research and writing abilities:

  • Specialized vocabulary or elevated jargon used?
  • Highly sophisticated writing style not aligned with previous work?

Examine the bibliography:

  • Are most of the citations from older sources?
  • Most materials referenced not found in our library system?
  • Differing citation style than what you assigned?

Detection Strategies:

1. Search Ramsey Library subscription databases for source articles.

  • Select database(s) by Subject appropriate for the paper topic in order to locate and verify cited (or search for non-referenced) articles.
  • Advanced search feature usually allows for phrase searching.

2. Use Google (or another web search tool) to search for suspicious phrases or paragraphs that may originate from online publications.

  • Conduct a bound phrase search (use quotation marks to enclose phrase).
  • OR use Advanced Search option (allows for exact phrase searching).

3. Search for suspicious phrases or paragraphs within paper mills.

  • Cheat House: Possibly the most popular "term paper for purchase (or trade)" site. Ability to search from hundreds of available topics, includes a rating system for users to find lower level through higher quality papers.
  • EssayFinder: Self-advertises as "The #1 Essay and Paper Search Engine" with over 50,000 essays and reports available for purchase.  A free brief description of each essay proves useful.
  • Further Fee-based Paper Mills as listed by the Google directory.

Detection Software and Services

Detection service subscriptions are available on an individual basis or you might wish to consider requesting an institutional subscription from the appropriate campus office.

TurnItIn
Perhaps the highest rate of detection among subscription software, TurnItIn searches not only a large portion of the web, but also a number of full-text proprietary databases.

EVE2 (Essay Verification Engine):
Software which compares a submitted essay to "anything" on the web. Occasionally offers a 15-day free trial.

Glatt Plagiarism Screening:
Alternative screening software for detecting plagiarism from purchased papers, other students and books. Also offers teaching/educational software as well as a free, online plagiarism self-test available for concerned students.

More Detection Services:
Excellent list and information about available detection software and services from LeMoyne College.

WARNINGS:

  • Certain “free” detection services and websites have been found to share an IP address with paper mill sites. Such a guise may be one way that paper mills expand their paper-product offerings.
  • Potential copyright issues arise in dealing with student work.  It's highly recommended that you submit only sections or phrases from works rather than the entire paper.

Further Reading:

Avoiding Plagiarism - Definitions and information for students.

Citing Sources - Useful links and tips on how to document/cite both print and electronic resource information.

Evaluating Web Information - Checklist and teaching tool for critically analyzing web sites and online information.

Copyright Resources - Useful links and tips on everything you need to know about copyright and intellectual property at UNCA.

 


 
Page updated 8/13/2013. 
Comments to library@unca.edu.
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