In surveys from 2006 to 2010 by Donald L. McCabe, a co-founder of the Center for Academic Integrity and a business professor at Rutgers University, about 40 percent of 14,000 undergraduates admitted to copying a few sentences in written assignments.
“Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age”
The Google Habit. Search your assignment topics on Google to see what is readily available online. Add “free paper” to your search terms.
The Gray Areas. Address common misconceptions about plagiarism in course materials and class discussions. Although most students know that submitting someone else’s paper is wrong, they are often less certain whether the following practices are acceptable: borrowing ideas but not actual words; using portions of other people’s works (e.g. a sentence, phrase, or a few words); imitating sentence structures and rhythms; consulting sources but not quoting them directly; “forgetting” to use an appropriate citation style; collaborating with other writers; recycling work from other classes, etc.
Critical Thinking. Ask students to do more than present information on a topic or summarize canonical sources. Emphasize the importance of building knowledge, thinking critically, analyzing findings, making an argument, etc. Assignments that are more narrowly focused or “authentic” in terms of genre, purpose and audience can be much more difficult to plagiarize than conventional term papers. Ask “ill-structured” questions that demand higher-order thinking.
Never Step into the Same River Twice. Modify assignments each semester, if only slightly. For example, require the use of a certain source (perhaps a recently published one), data set, or methodology.
Scaffold a Composing Process. Have students submit in-class writing, planning work and/or drafts to help you identify potential problems. Ask students to submit a memo with their final work that reflects on how they developed their ideas and built on published work. Consider requiring oral presentations of final work.
Notice the Clues. In addition to explicit forms of plagiarism, watch for signs such as the following: formatting glitches (font changes, headers, citation styles, etc.); shifts in voice, tone, diction, and style; use of dated sources and examples; reliance on common knowledge or “canned” information; excessive quotation (or none at all); overly polished prose on a draft; failure to submit planning work, drafts, or reflections.
Murphy Library Resources: http://www.uwlax.edu/murphylibrary/research/plagiarism.html
“Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers.” http://www.virtualsalt.com/antiplag.htm
“Discouraging Plagiarism.” http://www.indiana.edu/~cwp/plagiarism.shtml
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