It's No Big Deal? Everybody Does It?

Plagiarism is a growing and common problem for all students and educators. As students and educators, we need to understand copyright laws, recognize plagiarism, create assignments that help avoid plagiarism and learn how to detect plagiarism. It is our task as students and educators to have an awareness and understanding of plagiarism, know how to avoid it and understand why it is wrong. Students should be encouraged to use the Internet for research, but should know how to evaluate these sources, cite the sources properly, and paraphrase the information.

Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Make sure you paraphrase correctly. Replacing one or two words in each sentence is not paraphrasing; it is fill in the blank plagiarism. Read the original text, cover it up, write it in your own words, and check your paraphrase with the original to make sure you have not used any of the same words or phrases.
  • Be sure to give credit for paraphrased work also.
  • Include in your notes all the information you will need to cite the sources correctly.
  • Update the bibliography regularly.
  • Print all web pages that you use. Write the date that you accessed the web page on the printouts. Keep all your notes and all the printouts.
  • Always cite any words, information, and ideas that you learned in your research. If you did not know it before you began the research, you must cite it. If you are not sure, cite it. Sources should be cited internally in the body of the paper and in the bibliography.
  • Student Guide to Avoiding Plagiarism:
  • Commonly known facts (everyone knows it) do not have to be cited.
  • Provides examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrases and simple instructions on how to recognize and avoid plagiarism. Take a self-test for understanding and avoiding plagiarism. Students should take this test before writing assignments.

Why Do Students Plagiarize?

  • They want good grades, and they are very competitive.
  • Whatever it takes to get into the colleges they want to go to.
  • They don't think they will get caught.
  • Everybody does it.
  • They don't have time; they have too much homework or too many extracurricular activities.
  • It is not a course they care about, and they don't think they will ever need to know the information in the future.
  • It is easy to copy and paste from the Internet.
  • It is easy to buy entire papers from the Internet.
  • They don't think it is wrong.
  • They see adults cheat in business.
  • They wrote it better than I could.
  • They don't know they are plagiarizing.
  • They don't care.

WAYS For Educators to Help Students Avoid Plagiarism.

  • Teach a lesson on plagiarism and examples of plagiarism.
  • Let them know the consequences of plagiarism in your class.
  • Let students know that you know about the paper mill web sites and that you check their papers. Actually check out these sites (you will have to do it at home as NISD has blocked all of these sites.) You might want to print out a poorly written paper found at one of these mills and use it as an example in your class. Be sure the students know where you got the paper. This might discourage them from doing the same.
  • Give very specific assignments.
  • List what should be included.
  • If possible, allow students to select the topic within guidelines. Include unusual topics or recent current events.
  • Require some recent sources (magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.) printed or online.
  • Examples from required sources (books, web sites, letters, interviews, currentevents, etc.) Possibly require a specific number of each.
  • Require personal opinions and/or examples.
  • Require outlines of ideas or graphic organizers (Inspiration).
  • Change topics and assignments from year to year.
  • Require specific formatting for the final typed paper.
  • Check rough drafts, corrected rough drafts, final copy.
  • Possibly require assignments to be e-mailed to you. This would make it very easy to search the web to check for plagiarism.
  • Have students turn in printouts of all Internet sites used, photocopies of table of contents from books used, photocopies of any articles used.
  • Check the sentence structure, advanced vocabulary, unusual phrases.Check to see if all parts of the assignment are included. Do any parts sound like they were just added in and don't match the rest of the paper.Check the bibliography for dates of the references. Are they recent or old? Have students turn in copies of all sources used.