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Preventing Student Plagiarism: A Guide for Faculty

Detection Tips

Signs that a student has plagiarized or improperly cited sources

Possible indicators that the student did not write the paper:

  • a sudden improvement or change in writing ability or style in the paper as a whole
  • a paper that does not directly address the assignment
  • evidence drawn from books or other resources not assigned in class

Signs the paper is an assemblage of material:

  • sudden shifts in subject matter
  • sudden shifts in writing ability or style between paragraphs
  • more than one citation method used in the paper
  • incoherent lines of argument
  • sudden changes in fonts or font sizes between paragraphs
  • page number citations only at the ends of whole paragraphs

Signs that language is being lifted without attribution:

  • sudden shifts in writing ability or style within paragraphs or even sentences
  • sudden changes in fonts or font sizes within paragraphs
  • multiple names of authorities or sources mentioned in the text, but no quotations
  • long bibliographies, but no quotations.

(Modified from: Matto, Michael. Faculty Tips on Preventing Plagiarism (PDF file).

Tools and Strategies

Turnitin (in Canvas) is a great tool to educate students about plagiarism and help to prevent it.

Otherwise, consider the following detection strategies:

  • Have a conversation with the student: ask questions about content, ask to define the terms and adjectives that stand out stylistically, etc.
  • Go to Google and do a search for the exact phrase that might be plagiarized. (Enclose the phrase in double quotation marks).
  • Go to the Summon metasearch tool, general databases (Academic Search Complete or ProQuest Research Library) or a frequently used database in your subject area and do a search for the exact phrase that might be plagiarized.
  • Contact your subject librarian for assistance.

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