It's No Big Deal—Everybody Does It?
Mary Ann Ratliff, CIT
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.
Test your knowledge
The Six W's of
1. WHAT is
Plagiarism? "The act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or
ideas as if they were your own." http://www.dictionary.com
http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.shtml Provides examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrases
instructions on how to recognize and avoid plagiarism.
- Use quotations for everything that is copied exactly
from the text (include the quotes when taking notes taken from original
- Make sure you paraphrase correctly. Replacing one
or two words in each sentence is not paraphrasing; it is delete and replace
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. Refer to the citing
sources link above.
- 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. http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/TM/curr390_guide.shtml (page
- Commonly known facts (everyone knows it) do not have to be cited.
examples of original text and sample uses of these writings. Each example
is rated on plagiarism or acceptable use. Have students
look at these before taking the following self-test.
2. WHY Do
- 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;
examples Worldcom and Enron.
- They see politicians lie to
the public; example Clinton
- They wrote it better than I could.
- They don't know they are plagiarizing.
- They don't care.
3. WHERE Do
Students Get Plagiarized Material?
There are many web sites that
allow students to download research papers. Students are often paid
for putting their work there for others to use. Refer to the handout
of some of the sites commonly used by students.
4. WAYS For
Educators to Help Students Avoid Plagiarism.
- Teach students proper research techniques.
- 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
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, current events, etc.) Possibly
require a specific number of each.
- Require personal examples.
- Require personal opinions.
- Change topics and assignments from year to year.
- Require outlines of ideas or graphic organizers (Inspiration).
- Check rough drafts, corrected rough drafts, final copy.
- Require specific formatting for the final typed paper.
- Possibly require assignments to
be e-mailed to you. This would make it very easy to search the web
- Have students turn in printouts of all Internet sites used, photocopies
of table of contents from books used, photocopies of any articles used.
- Check to see if the formatting
matches what the teacher required.
- Check the sentence structure, advanced vocabulary, unusual phrases.
- Highlight keywords, unusual phrases, or sentences that could be placed
in a search engine to check for plagiarism. Check any paper that seems
- 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 to see if it is the right kind of paper; argumentative, analytical,
- Check the bibliography for dates of the references. Are they recent
- Check to see if your library has
the books listed in the bibliography. Check a few of the Internet resources.
- Have students turn in copies of all sources used as mentioned in section
6. WRITINGS on