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Preventing Plagiarism

Handout presented by Kirsten Murray at a Reflective Practice Meeting – Academic Integrity

  • Assess department rigor and gate-keeping policies.
  • Craft specific course assignments.
  • Be Clear:
    • What constitutes plagiarism?
    • What are the consequences?
    • Example syllabi statement:
      Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Academic dishonesty (plagiarism, falsification of information, cutting and pasting from web-based resources without acknowledgement, etc.) is a serious violation and will result in consequences that affect grades and/or may result in disciplinary charges. Plagiarism is defined as “copying another’s work or portions thereof and/or using ideas or concepts of another and presenting them as one’s own without giving proper credit.”
  • Support a “self-policing” classroom culture using software such as TurnItIn.
    • Example syllabi statement:
      TurnItIn: Students agree that by taking this course all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the Turnitin.com service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.
  • Emphasize student wellness.

Detecting Plagiarism

  • Formal tools
    • TurnItIn
    • Plagiarism.com
  • Informal tools
    • Know your students’ writing
    • Trust your instincts to explore further
    • Know the literature
    • Exploration using Internet (i.e., Google)

Responding to Plagiarism

  • Review the Graduate Handbook Academic Integrity Policy and Procedures (pp.33–36).
  • Noticed difference in writing style and/or change in use of vocabulary.
  • Explore writing by reviewing other samples of the students’ work or searching on line (using Google) for potential cutting and pasting of writing.
  • Contact department chair to discuss concerns.
  • Obtained student’s paper electronically or used scanner to create electronic version.
  • Contacted Lillian Clemons at the academic help desk (academic-helpdesk@listserv.iup.edu or (724) 357-6100 to obtain password for Turn It In software. Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m..
  • Uploaded paper to TurnItIn and reviewed results (both occurrences resulted in identification of plagiarism using software and consultation with Department Chair). You can learn how to use the software by visiting TurnItIn. Here you can take a tour or view a demo.
  • Contact student to discuss concerns about paper and subsequent options. Important to remain direct and clear.
    • Student could produce references (instructor unable to find them), fail that portion of the paper, but have the remainder of the paper graded.
    • Student could accept a failing grade on the paper.
    • Student could attend a formal adjudication meeting.
    • Student paper would be brought up during departmental student reviews.
  • Throughout the process, it is recommended that contacts with student and steps taken regarding the academic integrity charges are documented.
  • Consequences were determined by the instructor but included one or more of the following options:
    • Failing grade for the course
    • Failing grade on assignment
    • Failing grade on portion of the assignment that plagiarized
    • Departmental remediation plan (included a written assignment on plagiarism with appropriate citations using APA style, a reflection on the experience and implications for ethical conduct and personal growth, inclusion of ten references (five non-Internet-obtained sources), meeting with advisor)

Personal Reactions to Plagiarism

  • Is this what I think it is?
  • How could they do this (to me!)?
  • Surprised by student’s justification for behavior, denial/ignorance, “posturing,” and lack of ownership
  • Unprepared for the drains on time
  • Experienced both relational and belief system shifts with students
  • Center for Teaching Excellence
  • Dr. Mary Anne Hannibal, Director
    Stouffer Hall, Room 137
    1175 Maple Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-7800
  • Fax: 724-357-2281