How to Help Your Students Understand and Avoid Plagiarism
Plagiarism - to steal and pass off as one's own; use without crediting the source; to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
— Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary
In many cases, especially in a first-year course, students do not always intend to plagiarize but may not understand how to properly credit their sources. Therefore, if a student is struggling with quotation and paraphrase, the most appropriate response is for them to be taught how to properly use and cite others' work.
Students plagiarize when they
- present as their own, for academic evaluation, the ideas, representations, or works of another person or persons without customary and proper acknowledgement of sources.
- submit work of another person in a manner which represents the work to be their own.
- knowingly permit their work to be submitted by another person without the instructor's authorization. ("Student Obligations and Adjudication," University Policy 02-03-03).
You can help students avoid the act of plagiarism by taking these steps in your classes:
- include a clear statement explaining plagiarism in your syllabus.
- review the plagiarism statement when you give your overview of the syllabus at the beginning of the semester.
- teach students how to properly cite others' work.
- make sure that assignments include documentation expectations.
- provide in-class workshops on documentation and revision assignments that require students to properly credit work.
Note: Instructors may take advantage of Turnitin, the world's leading online plagiarism prevention resource.
When Plagiarism Is Suspected
If you have reason to believe that a student has plagiarized, you must follow departmental and Arts and Sciences procedures in a timely fashion to protect both the student’s rights and your own. Unless the student signs a statement admitting to the infraction, the student has the right to an appearance before the Academic Integrity Review Board.
1. The instructor and student should try to arrive at a specific and mutually agreed upon resolution: rewriting the assignment, receiving a failing grade for the assignment, or receiving a failing grade for the course. You can use the Academic Integrity Violation Form to document the case.
- With a truly confused student or with an early assignment in a lower division course, it may be appropriate for the student to rewrite and resubmit the paper.
- If a student has submitted one writing assignment out of several with passages taken from other sources, it may be appropriate for the student to receive a failing grade for that assignment.
- If a student has submitted someone else’s paper as his or her own, or handed in a complete essay taken from another source; if the violation is repeated and occurs after a previous warning; or if the plagiarism occurs in a major paper, it may be appropriate for the student to fail the course.
Please Note: TAs and TFs and anyone new to the department should consult with a course supervisor or program director about an appropriate sanction. All faculty members should feel free to consult with each other, with Program directors, or with the chair.
2. If a resolution between the instructor and the student cannot be reached, the instructor should contact the program director, who will meet with the student or who will meet with all parties involved for a final attempt at a formal resolution. If this meeting does not result in a mutually agreeable outcome, the instructor should consult with the chair. The student should be instructed to contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies (usually contacting Fred Whelan) to schedule a hearing with the Academic Integrity Review Board. The faculty member will need to provide documentation (copies of the students’ papers and the sources) and a brief written statement. In our experience, these cases rarely go to the Review Board. If a case should go to judicial review, you can ask to be accompanied by the program director or the chair.
- Updated August 16, 2007