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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.

The Office of Research Integrity (RIO) manages the iThenticate plagiarism detection software license providing access as appropriate. If you would like access to iThenticate to screen a research project, please contact the RIO.

If you cannot use any of these tools and suspect a case of plagiarism, 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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