Hostos Community College Library
475 Grand Concourse Bronx, New York 10451 http://www.hostos.cuny.edu/library/
PLAGIARISM & HOW TO AVOID IT
Coordinator of Instruction
Hostos Community College Library
Why Students Plagiarize
The following is based on Penn State’s “Cyberplagiarism: Detection and Prevention.” http://tlt.psu.edu/suggestions/cyberplag/
Many college students:
1. Don’t truly understand what plagiarism is, or what acts constitute plagiarism;
2. Are not aware that their institution has a Code of Ethics or Academic Integrity;
3. Do not understand why plagiarism is not only illegal but also interferes with their own learning;
4. May know generally what plagiarism is, but have not been given the guidance and practice to learn how to avoid
Heavy schedules, leaving little time outside of classes, work, family responsibilities
Fear of failure. Some students feel their writing or research skills are so weak that they can only pass the
course if they plagiarize. In addition, students often fail to seek help from teachers or librarians
when they are struggling with understanding the assignment or the research/writing process.
Lack of time management skills, leading to “economy of effort.” It’s easier to save time by copying and pasting
from the Web or periodical research databases than to read, synthesize and paraphrase.
Some Plagiarism Detection and Prevention Strategies
Educate yourself on the various ways students plagiarize and ways to detect plagiarism in their papers.
Teachers who give writing assignments (even short ones) throughout the semester quickly become
familiar with their students’ own writing styles, skills and weaknesses. It becomes much easier to detect
plagiarism in their papers when you have a context for judging what they turn in.
Warn your students if you intend to use special detection services or software. The warning alone may deter
some students from plagiarism, and can serve as a clear policy statement should any issues relating to
possible discovered cases arise.
Work with Library faculty to provide resources, strategies and hands-on practice for your students to
understand and avoid plagiarism.
Teach your students how to take notes during research that include clear demarcations of passages quoted or
paraphrased from sources, including citations at those passages. Advise your students to print out
Webpages and article records from online databases for source materials they may use, even if they
haven’t yet made a final decision on which sources to use.
Teach students about citation styles and how to use a style guide or manual. Take advantage of anti-plagiarism
workshops offered in your school’s Library.
Restructure Your Inquiry-based Writing Assignments
The format of assignments can make it easy – or more difficult -- for students to plagiarize. Following are some
ideas on how to help students avoid plagiarism that involve your writing assignments.
Provide your students with specific, written directions for their inquiry-based assignments. Make sure what you
are asking them to do is possible. Are the resources you expect them to use in the library? Is the research
question one that is geared to their skill level and for which there are sources readily available in the Library?
Make writing topics specific - it is far more difficult to find and adapt outside papers to specific topics.
Break down the research process into discrete, “bite sized” assignments; monitor each completed step or draft.
Collaborate with your Library faculty to refine, redesign or support your inquiry-based assignments; librarians
can provide handouts, online guides, workshops or customized library sessions for your students. Provide
your school’s library with a copy of your assignments so they can better help your students.
Require very recent references or to include sources from a list you provide.
Require students to turn in research notes with final drafts.
Change assignments from year to year. Students often use their friends’ papers for assignments that have
been repeated from semester to semester.
Make assignments unique to students/year (e.g. a family history, current issues, local issues, personal
Include alternative genres such as an article review, Web site review, journal, interview or other assignments
requiring personal reflection or original research.
Provide a bibliography for students so they know where to begin legitimate research.
Selected Web Resources for Understanding and Preventing Plagiarism
The Center for Academic Integrity <http://www.academicintegrity.org/index.asp>
Deterring Plagiarism: Some Strategies <http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/plagiarism.html>
Anti-Plagiarism Strategies (Robert Harris) <http://www.virtualsalt.com/antiplag.htm>
“Guide to Plagiarism and Cyber-Plagiarism.” <http://www.library.ualberta.ca/guides/plagiarism/>
Turnitin: Plagiarism Prevention Service <http://www.turnitin.com/static/home.html>
Selected Bibliography on Students and the Research Process and Plagiarism Prevention
Bodi, Sonia. “How Do We Bridge the Gap between What We Teach and What They Do? Some Thoughts
on the Place of Questions in the Process of Research.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 28, no. 3
Buczynski, James A. “Using Information Retrieval Technology to Combat IT Mediated Plagiarism.” Internet
Reference Services Quarterly 10, no. 2 (2005) : 95-99.
Ercegovac, Zorana and John V. Richardson, Jr. “Academic Dishonesty, Plagiarism Included, in the Digital Age: A
Literature Review.” College & Research Libraries 65, no. 4 (July 2004) : 301-318.
Fister, Barbara. “The Research Processes of Undergraduate Students.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 18,
no. 3 (1992): 163-169. Available at: http://homepages.gac.edu/%7Efister/JAL1992.html
. “Reintroducing Students to Good Research.” Paper presented at Lake Forest College, 11/7/2001.
Available at: http://homepages.gac.edu/~fister/LakeForest.html
Isbell, Dennis and Dottie Broaddus. “Teaching Writing and Research as Inseparable: A Faculty-Librarian
Teaching Team.” Reference Services Review 23, no. 4 (1995): 51-62.
Kuhlthau, Carol C. “Developing A Model of the Library Search Process: Investigation of Cognitive and Affective
Aspects." Reference Quarterly 28, no.2 (1988): 232-242.
Leckie, Gloria J. “Desperately Seeking Citations: Uncovering Faculty Assumptions about the Undergraduate
Research Process.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 22 (1996): 201-208.
Liddell, Jean. “A Comprehensive Definition of Plagiarism.” Community & Junior College Libraries 11,
no. 3 (2003) : 43-53.
Lund, James R. “Plagiarism: A Cultural Perspective.” Journal of Religious & Theological Information 6,
no. 3/4 (2004) : 93-101.