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Preventing & Detecting Plagiarism

As a teacher, dealing with student plagiarism can be one of the most frustrating experiences you will encounter.  Here are a few suggestions to help you avoid student plagiarism:

  • Discuss UTK’s Honor Statement and student responsibilities regarding academic integrity, including the definition of plagiarism, with your students, and include a reference to it on your syllabus.  Let students know what the consequences for plagiarism will be.  This information is available in Section 10 of the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Create assignment prompts that are specific enough that students are not able to find online papers that respond to them.
  • Be aware that many websites exist to help student “share” course notes and lecture materials, often directly related to specific courses and/or instructors.  These sites may also allow participants to post previous assignments and/or exams, with the answers included.
  • Look at your students’ writing throughout the brainstorming and composing processes.
  • Require early proposals, brainstorming activities, and/or rough drafts.  Guarding against procrastination and the anxiety of last-minute writing is one key to helping students avoid plagiarism.
  • Give writers information about how to integrate sources properly in their papers.
  • Teach your students the difference between summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting.
  • Make sure to spend some class time going over the specific guidelines for citation rules in your discipline.
  • Check out the resources collected by the UT Libraries regarding plagiarism.
  • Browse the suggestions for “Addressing Cheating & Plagiarism in the Classroom” offered by Teaching and Learning Innovation (TLI).
  • Finally, consider distributing this flyer about plagiarism from Bedford/St. Martin’s.

A teacher who engages students throughout the process can detect more plagiarism than any software algorithm ever will.  More importantly, a teacher can not only detect plagiarism but also can talk to writers about how to fix any issues before the final draft is submitted.

To report an incidence of plagiarism or academic dishonesty, submit an Academic Misconduct Reporting Form through the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards.