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Plagiarism and the Internet

What is plagiarism?
How do I discourage plagiarism?
How can I tell if a student has copied their report from the web?


Plagiarism is the activity of implying or claiming authorship of materials by incorporating them into a creative work without adequate attribution. Using the work of others without acknowledgement is a breach of ethics.

In schools, plagiarism is considered cheating and academically dishonest. The use of quotations and proper citations is the easiest way to overcome plagiarism.

Go to Plagiarism from Wikipedia to learn more and read examples.

Plagiarism in Schools

Read about the issue of plagiarism in news articles such as Plagiarism Case Bedevils Kansas School. For the past century, children have been given the same assignment, "write a paragraph about ..." For the same amount of time, students have copied information from the encyclopedia. With the introduction of CD-ROM, Internet, and word processing, copying and pasting has gotten even easier. How do you discourage this behavior? First, give students assignments that require them to use higher order thinking. In other words, ask them to analyze, synthesize, and formulate new ideas based on old information. These types of reports can't be copied. Also, talk to students about the ethics of using the work of others. Discuss the term plagiarism and how to avoid it. Teach them how to properly cite their sources.

Try a great web interactive called You Quote It, You Note It! from Vaughan Memorial Library.

General Resources on Plagiarism

Read the following resources on plagiarism:

Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism

Use the following resources to help you and your students avoid plagiarism when creating projects:

Learn to Rule Out Academic Dishonesty at the Cliffnotes website. Discourage plagiarism by providing information starting points and asking high level questions about the resource. For example, start with SparkNotes and explore your content area. Then, brainstorm ways to use this information with your students. They could discuss, critique, or evaluate the information found here.
Read the article Avoiding Plagiarism from the Purdue's OWL.
Take a self-test in plagiarism.

Papermills and Plagiarism Detection

Papermills, also know as essay mills, are services that sell academic papers to students who wish to cheat. If you're concerned that students might be copying essays from the Internet, it's easy to check their work. Use a search engine such as Google to search for a sample phrase (put it in quotation marks) from the questionable student paper. There's a good chance the phrase will pop up! Explore articles on plagiarism and check out sites that students might use to copy essays.

A number of companies such as Turnitin produce software for detecting plagiarized projects. However there are also free services and software such as The Plagiarism Resource Site.

Teaching About Plagiarism

Has your work been plagiarized? Copy a sentence from your website and do a search. Has anyone "repurposed" your work?
Create an activity that would help students move from copying to creative works.

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