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Best Practice: Plagiarism

This article is archived and is no longer updated. Go to the latest information on avoiding plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious offense that is more prominent in this digital age. Students can find almost anything on the internet and easily copy and paste it. Few people consider a reuse of web information as serious cheating.

You can help prevent and monitor plagiarism. You can prepare your students to prevent plagiarism and use tools such as SafeAssign to help them investigate plagiarism potential.

Image of opening quotes  Prevent Plagiarism

Explain plagiarism to your students. Arm your students with the knowledge of how to avoid plagiarism and what constitutes plagiarism in your course. Many students understand they need to give credit to their sources. However, they do not understand how to discuss someone else's ideas and not use their exact words. Provide examples and resources to help your students write effectively and understand the full meaning and consequences of plagiarism.

Show students how to cite sources. Share the types of sources you expect and provide a guide. Point them to the style you want them to use.

Create checkpoints on assignments. Ask your students to submit outlines, introductions, and drafts for grades. Drafts submitted early in the process are more likely to be original as it takes time to find appropriate and reasonable sources. You can also use drafts to see how students apply your feedback in revisions.

Avoid using the same assignments in every class. Original assignments for each class limits the possibility that students can use an assignment from a previous class.

Require your students to provide copies of their references. Students are less likely to plagiarize if they understand that you have direct access to their sources.

Image of opening quotes  Review Submissions for Plagiarism Potential

magnifying glassNo magic formula exists for the detection of plagiarism. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of sources to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. A good reason may or may not exist for these areas of overlap. SafeAssign does not identify that.

SafeAssign only identifies the potential for plagiarism and provides you with the tools to review the information and determine if a student has committed plagiarism.



"Cheating in School: How the Digital Age Affects Cheating and Plagiarism."INFOGRAPHIC: Cheating in School: How the Digital Age Affects Cheating and Plagiarism. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.

"Actions Instructors Can Take to Help Prevent Plagiarism." Columbia College. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.

"Guidelines for Plagiarism Prevention" [PDF]. and Research Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.

Learn More

To learn more, see Use SafeAssign in Assignments and Multiple Assignment Attempts.