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Some Ideas about Plagiarism Linda Boynton, Highland Lakes. These are some slides pulled from a larger presentation I did for people outside the English Discipline on Creating Effective Writing Assignments. I’ve added text so the slides make sense without any presentation.

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some ideas about plagiarism linda boynton highland lakes
Some Ideas about PlagiarismLinda Boynton, Highland Lakes
  • These are some slides pulled from a larger presentation I did for people outside the English Discipline on Creating Effective Writing Assignments. I’ve added text so the slides make sense without any presentation.
  • The slides address why students plagiarize and what we can do about it.
plagiarism awareness strategies http virtualsalt com antiplag htm
Plagiarism—Awareness Strategies

1.Understand why students cheat:

“Natural economizers,” poor study skills, lack of writing confidence, or don’t care.

too many choices
Too Many Choices
  • They also have too many choices with databases and internet information.
  • This can be overwhelming, especially for students with poor reading skills.
mixed messages
Mixed Messages

Also, they get many mixed messages.

For example, check out this site: (

This web site has a selection of papers color coded and priced from free to $29.95, along with a guarantee that “If you ever find a similar essay cheaper on another website, we will refund your money.” Plus there is a 60 percent sale right now.

The site has also has links that explain plagiarism. Then they invite students to “donate an essay. ”

BUT they caution that

“ All submitted documents must be your own original work.”

Mixed messages?

mixed messages1
Mixed Messages?
  • Go to the Republican National Committee web site and click on “ ‘Write’ letters to the editor.”
  • Republican National Committee
  • Clicking little plus signs next to fully developed issues writes the letter for you.
  • Dems do it too, but they encourage the person to actually do some writing, providing only brief single-line talking points and requiring knowledge of the high-tech complicated skill of copy and paste.
  • Democratic National Committee
plagiarism awareness strategies
Plagiarism—Awareness Strategies

2. Educate them about what plagiarism is:

Working with texts from your discipline, show properly cited quotations, paraphrases, and summaries, not as a plagiarism “lesson” on a specific day, but throughout the class as part of your regular lectures when the opportunities present themselves.

plagiarism awareness strategies1
Plagiarism—Awareness Strategies

3. Discuss the benefits of citing sources:

Increases their authority, shows they have done the research, honors thinkers and intellectual property, what they too will be, and have, once they become part of their chosen career fields.

Let them know that in college, we appear knowledgeable and authoritative by showing we have done the research and have a chorus of cited voices supporting our views.

plagiarism awareness strategies2
Plagiarism—Awareness Strategies

4. Make consequences:

Academic Honesty Consent Statement (given out on Staff Development Day)


Joseph Biden's Plagiarism;

Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., a U.S. senator from Delaware, was driven from the nomination battle after delivering, without attribution, passages from a speech by British Labor party leader Neil Kinnock. A barrage of subsidiary revelations by the press also contributed to Biden's withdrawal: a serious plagiarism incident involving Biden during his law school years; the senator's boastful exaggerations of his academic record at a New Hampshire campaign event; and the discovery of other quotations in Biden's speeches pilfered from past Democratic politicians.

plagiarism prevention
Plagiarism Prevention
  • Make assignments clear (do these assignments yourself first to see what students are up against)
  • Provide a list of specific topics
  • Require specific components:

(like two journals, two interviews, one survey…or incorporate these two articles into the paper…or at least two sources from this last year, or all sources from last five years)

4 require process steps sequencing
4. Require process steps: (sequencing)

To prevent students from just taking a whole paper from somewhere, make them accountable for developing it in stages using “layered” assignments for major papers:

Sample: Layering a paper requiring some research

1. First segment: informal exploration of topic and its importance without using research (have the students discover their own voices first—what do they already know, why do they care, what do they want to find out)

2. Next segment: listing and review of secondary sources (see annotated bibliography slide)

3. Next segment—turn in one point from the paper, incorporating sources, so you can see if they are handling it properly. You can also show the class good some examples from this collected batch to serve as models.

4. Next segment: Paper due

plagiarism prevention1
Plagiarism Prevention

5. Require oral reports

Not enough time for oral reports? Ask for “Conceptual accountability”:

“I will choose one section of your paper at random and ask you to explain your ideas, the vocabulary you used to express them, and the support you used to prove them.”

Even less time? Oral paper question follow up:

As you grade papers, identify one concept for a quick discussion on the day papers are returned: “What did you mean here by dynamic equivalence?”

Show plenty of samples of what you might ask so they understand what will come. (This is easy after you keep track of the questions you actually used with papers from one whole class.)

plagiarism prevention2
Plagiarism Prevention

6. Ask for an annotated bibliography (This is a 4-6 sentence summary of each source—ask for a couple per week leading up to the due date)

Goldscheider, Frances Kobrin, Linda J. Waite, and Christina Witsberger. "Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults." American Sociological Review 51 (1986): 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

plagiarism prevention3
Plagiarism Prevention

Ask for Actual Sources: Some instructors ask students to turn in copies of their research.

formal commitment
Formal Commitment
  • Signed plagiarism pledge

(This is the document I handed out at Staff Development Day)

handing it in
Handing it in

To ensure students have a conceptual handle on their papers…

  • Have students underline the thesis (what will this paper prove?)
  • Have students write the main point of each paragraph in the margins (makes papers easier to grade—either the paragraph accomplishes what they say it does or it doesn’t)
suspected plagiarism
Suspected Plagiarism

Look for clues:

  • Mixed citation styles, lack of citations
  • Unusual formatting
  • Oddly off-topic sections
  • Currency of sources
  • Vocabulary and diction
looking for proof
Looking for Proof
  • Google it (type in a 4-6 word string of suspect text)
  • Use more than one search engine since they do not catalogue the same things
  • Early in the class, ask students to tell you their favorite search engines—check these when suspecting plagiarism
plagiarism detectors (Turnitin, ithenticate) These are high priced institutional detectors

EVE (Essay Verification Engine) ( $29.99—good for individual use.

Plagiarism Detectors
our best tool model academic inquiry ourselves
Our Best Tool?Model Academic Inquiry Ourselves
  • Using our lectures and our course materials, in every discipline, all throughout the class, show students how to negotiate text.
model academic inquiry before actually assigning a paper
Model academic inquiry before actually assigning a paper
  • Using a relevant piece of writing (a section of the text you are teaching from) show students how to summarize, paraphrase, and annotate. These skills increase reading comprehension and writing competence and since students have never been allowed to write in books, they do not have these skills.
  • This can be done throughout a course, with one isolated section of every chapter, perhaps choosing the most difficult part.
  • You might want to make photocopies of a challenging section of a chapter and ask students to read them as they normally would.
  • THEN model annotation—using the Elmo, read the challenging section aloud, tell what you are thinking while reading it, and mark the text to capture those thoughts using symbols and language—writing down paraphrased ideas, difficult words, questions, personal connections, and so on.
plagiarism indicates
Plagiarism indicates…
  • a lack of control over time (sequencing a paper assignment as previously described forces students to attend to the work in stages)
  • a lack of confidence in their ability to understand and process the texts they encounter (teaching them to summarize, paraphrase, and annotate using the texts in your own discipline gives them tools that will lead them into these texts instead of running away from them.)
  • a lack of respect for the reasons why it is wrong (telling them what they have to gain by properly citing sources, and what they have to lose when they don’t, contributes to this respect)