How to Help Students Avoid Plagiarism

Most students are still developing their writing skills and discipline-specific knowledge, and each instructor can play a role in furthering those abilities. With international students, it is best to assume that past exposure to or experience with proper citation (and the writing process) may be limited, and students may need sustained and repeated exposure to acquire the skills necessary to avoid plagiarism. There are several choices instructors can make to ensure students are given opportunities to practice appropriate use of sources and understand the consequences of failing to do so.

Explicit instruction about what is considered plagiarism in the discipline

  • Explaining what plagiarism is and the forms it can take
  • Using repeated and sustained exposure to examples in the discipline (and the instructor's own writing), of good paraphrase, use of direct quotations, and citation vs. plagiarism
  • Communicating the consequences of plagiarism: a draft vs. a final product, intentional vs. unintentional, the reporting of academic dishonesty, policies of U as well as the discipline

Explicit instruction and practice in how to use sources and cite correctly

  • Evaluating sources and choosing sources at the appropriate language level
  • Reading strategies to find information quickly and accurately
  • Note-taking skills to ensure accuracy in language (quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing) and correct citation

Scaffolding of writing components and due dates

  • Step 1: Choosing and evaluating sources
  • Step 2: Note-taking
  • Step 3: Outlining
  • Step 4: Drafting
  • Step 5: Conferencing

Use of turnitin.com as a teaching tool for first drafts
Whereas turnitin.com is often used only to catch plagiarism, it can be a very useful tool for international students to see their report on Moodle so they have the opportunity to learn what does and does not constitute plagiarism in the US. Instructors may even allow students to change their papers and re-submit it after fixing any problems. Although it does not identify all plagiarism, it can be a very valuable tool.

  • To help students identify correct and incorrect paraphrase, quotation, and citation
  • To allow students to see their own "voice" (or lack thereof) in their writing