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Detecting & Preventing Plagiarism

Assistance in identifying plagiarism

  • Plagiarism.org includes information about and links to Turnitin and iThenticate
  • SafeAssign is supported by Brooklyn College through Blackboard, and works similarly to Turnitin

Tips for discouraging plagiarism

  • Avoid having students simply find answers. Encourage students to do their own thinking, not paraphrase the thinking of someone else. What are their thoughts and ideas on a given topic?
  • Ask questions that require students to make an inquiry or investigation.
  • Have students compile and turn in working bibliographies before term paper due dates. This will require students to begin research early, avoiding the temptation of last-minute information downloads.
  • Have students maintain a research log. This will note the databases and indexes searched, search dates, keywords and subjects used, and a summary of search results.

Identifying plagiarized papers

The following can all assist you when you suspect a paper has been plagiarized.

  • Ask the student to recreate portions of the paper and see how closely this matches the syntax and sentence structure included in the paper in question.
  • Use search engines. Entering a four to eight-word, distinctive phrase in a full-text search engine will often yield the source of the plagiarism. Be sure to use the proper search techniques for locating phrases.
    Note: “entering phrases within quotation marks” works with most search engines the same way as using the “this exact phrase” box in the Advanced Search option of Google.
  • Search some of the common, full-text databases used by undergraduates. Searching unique, selected phrases can help locate the exact article in which it appears.
  • Look for vocabulary not commonly used in this particular class.
  • Look at the citations included. Are they all from sources not likely to be encountered in undergraduate research? Are they outdated?
  • Look for statements at the end of the paper that acknowledge a source for the paper.
  • Look for unusual formatting, either a change in font or the formatting itself.

Plagiarism information and prevention sites

Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It. Indiana University. http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.shtml

Avoiding Plagiarism. Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/589/1/

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