Framework for Plagiarism Detection

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					       School of Social Sciences

     Nottingham Trent University 





A Framework for the Appropriate Use of

     Plagiarism Detection Software 

                                                                                                                                                       2


                                                  Table of contents



     Establishing a Framework for the Electronic Detection of Plagiarism ........................ 3


     Citation and Referencing Guidance for students................................................................ 3


     Establishing a Programme Scheme for the use of the Software.................................. 4


     Arrangements for Electronic Submission .............................................................................. 4

     1) Anonymous marking............................................................................................................ 5

     2) Submission of identical copies......................................................................................... 5

     3) Late submission..................................................................................................................... 5

     4) Partial submission................................................................................................................. 5

     5) Word counts ............................................................................................................................ 5

     6) Technical problems .............................................................................................................. 5

     7) Scanning originality reports before marking.............................................................. 6

     8) Student access to originality reports ............................................................................ 6


     Interpreting originality reports in line with the NTU Code of Academic

     Misconduct ........................................................................................................................................ 7

     1) Is the scope of the suspected plagiarism ‘more than a single phrase’? .......... 7

     2) Is the alleged plagiarism of limited or serious significance?................................ 7


     Case Examples ...............................................................................................................................10

     Example A: Plagiarism ................................................................................................................11

     Example B: Plagiarism or poor scholarship?.......................................................................13

     Example C: Plagiarism or poor scholarship?.......................................................................15





Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                      3


              A Framework for the appropriate use of 

                   Plagiarism Detection Software 





Establishing a Framework for the Electronic Detection of
Plagiarism

The arrival of the JISC plagiarism detection service equips academic staff and
programme teams with an effective tool in both providing a deterrent to students
and a quick and simple means of detection.

Wider use of the detection service within the school is likely to lead to an increase in
the number of cases of plagiarism. It is therefore important that the school is
prepared and able to respond to cases of academic misconduct in line with the NTU
Academic Misconduct: Code of Practice (referred to at the NTU Code of Practice
hereafter). One aspect of which will be to ensure consistency in any subsequent
actions taken by individual academics, module and programme teams. It is
important that all identified cases of plagiarism follow the same process and that
there is parity in the application of penalties to individual cases across the school.

If programme teams wish to use the software they should do so in a consistent,
coordinated and transparent way. The first step should be to inform students of a
programme’s intention to use the software well in advance of any assessment
deadlines. It is also essential that students know what is expected of them in terms
of citation and referencing conventions.




Citation and Referencing Guidance for students

Each programme team will need to make explicit the citation and referencing
conventions expected of their students. Such conventions need to be written and
made available to all staff and students.

Several programmes within the school have developed guidance documents and
teach students ‘how to reference’ within study skills modules or equivalent. In
addition two diagnostic online ‘referencing’ and ‘plagiarism’ tests have been
developed for students by Ann Liggett, Ed Foster (CASQ) and Jane McNeil (LTC for
Arts Communication and Culture) which are freely available for programme teams to
use.

Students should be introduced to the detection software and given an explanation for
how it works at an early stage in their programme. It would be appropriate to enable
students to submit their first written assignment and see the originality report as
part of a learning experience. If the software identifies any problematic matches
these should be explained by the tutor to the student to enable them to recognise
their mistake and to avoid repeating it.


Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                     4


Establishing a Programme Scheme for the use of the Software

In reality any academic member of staff who suspects academic misconduct or
plagiarism is entitled to search for the original source by a variety of means from
checking their own collection of text books to scanning the assignment and using the
software. Yet a programme team also has a responsibility to ensure that as more
staff become interested in using the software that the practice is transparent across
the programme and is clearly explained to students.

The programme team will need to develop an overall scheme which identifies which
module assessment will be scanned by the software. An overarching principle should
be to ensure that students’ assessment is not unfairly targeted. This can easily
happen if the use of the software is limited to one or two members of the teaching
team using the software on their own modules or if a student suspected of or found
to be plagiarising has their work examined more frequently than their peers.

In developing an appropriate scheme the team might consider whether all modules
or all ‘core’ modules should be scrutinised, thus ensuring that all students have an
equal chance of detection across the programme. Alternatively the team could
identify particular forms of assessment across the programme and require electronic
submission in all such cases. Choosing the final year dissertation in isolation would
be unadvisable given the significance of this assessment to the student’s final award.
A statement in the programme handbook which clearly states that students must
keep an electronic copy of their assessment as they can be asked at any time to
submit their work to the detection software would also be recommended.

It is important to give consideration to the implications for shared modules with
other programmes. It would be unfair for example if only a proportion of students
studying such a module were expected to submit their work for scrutiny or only
those students from the ‘home’ programme had suspected cases of plagiarism acted
upon. One solution might be for programmes wishing to access modules from
another programme where Turnitin is in use accept this as a condition and recognise
that they would need follow the NTU Code of Practice in suspected cases of academic
misconduct.




Arrangements for Electronic Submission

It is strongly recommended that students are required to submit their assessment
both electronically directly to TurnitinUK and also in paper format through the School
Office. Dual submission has a number of advantages in that the process of electronic
submission is relatively straightforward once explained to the students and saves the
individual member of staff considerable time. The student will receive an electronic
receipt to their NTU email address. The marker would continue to receive a paper
copy to mark and annotate as usual. It is advisable that the electronic and paper
submissions are matched up by student ID number as soon as possible to identify
any partial or non-submissions (see points 3 and 4 on the next page).

There are number of further considerations which will require written instructions, for
students and staff in programme and module documentation:



Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                      5

1)      Anonymous marking

To protect the student’s anonymity it is important that they use their ID number
rather than their name when submitting electronically. This will involve adding their
ID number in the fields that ask for first name and surname.


2)      Submission of identical copies

It is important to state in the programme/module documentation that students must
submit an identical version of their assignment in both the paper and electronic
format.


3)      Late submission

A late submission would be determined by the submission date of the paper copy
and treated as you would do normally with the five day rule etc applying. A late
submission which is related to a student’s special circumstances would still require
the student to submit an electronic version on the same date as their paper version.


4)      Partial submission

In the situation whereby a student submits either the paper OR the electronic
version then it is reasonable to classify this as a non-submission. If the paper
version is the missing element then it should be treated as in point 3 above.

It is probable that a few students will submit a paper version but omit to submit an
electronic version for a variety of reasons. In such an instance it is reasonable to ask
the student to submit the missing electronic version by a certain date and withhold a
mark until this is done. If necessary the tutor can scan a few missing assignments
and submit them to the detection service.


5)      Word counts

A feature of the originality report is that a word count is given and this will include
the student’s list of references unless the students are asked to exclude it. It is also
worth noting that students should be made aware of this facility before they submit
their work, particularly where the word length is a feature of the assessment design.


6)      Technical problems

It is possible, although rare, that students may experience some ‘technical’ problems
when submitting their work. In such circumstances the paper submission becomes
the guarantee of successful submission on the day of the deadline.




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                     6



7)      Scanning originality reports before marking

It is advisable to scan the originality reports before marking. This will enable the
tutor the time to identify any possible cases of plagiarism or academic misconduct
and to decide upon a course of action in line with the NTU Code of Practice and
where applicable to contact the student before the assessment is marked and
returned to the cohort.

In cases where large cohorts of students are involved programme teams may find it
tempting to consider ways of sampling a proportion of students work. It is not
advisable to use the colour coded scale as a means of selecting which originality
reports deserve greater scrutiny. The main reason being that this is a crude
indicator and serious examples of plagiarism may occur in a relatively small
proportion of the overall assignment. The NTU Code of Practice identifies as an
example of plagiarism ‘the inclusion in a candidate’s work of more than a single
phrase from another person’s work without the use of quotation marks and
acknowledgement of the sources’ (see section 2.1 of the Code).

The recommended practice is for a member or members of the module team to view
each originality report. The process is very quick, particularly as you become more
experienced. This recommended practice is particularly important if it has been
decided at the programme level to scan only a proportion of the total modules
available. Thus ensuring that all student submissions are treated equally in those
modules where the software is in use.



8)      Student access to originality reports

When module tutors set up their classes and assignments there is a feature which
allows students to view their originality reports. This can be turned on or off when it
suits the tutor. It is advisable to only give student access once the assessment has
been marked thus allowing the member of staff to identify any possible problematic
cases and act on them as appropriate in privacy.

On a related point it is advisable to avoid the situation whereby a student has seen
their originality report and is aware that they have plagiarised and is either waiting
to be called to account or wonders why nobody has acted upon it.




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                     7



Interpreting originality reports in line with the NTU Code of
Academic Misconduct

Originality reports identify all matches and award a similarity score expressed as a
percentage. It is the marker’s first task to differentiate between legitimate matches
of properly cited extracts and those which are not. This is also likely to involve
making a judgement about whether potential problematic passages are examples of
plagiarism or poor scholarship. The guidance offered below identifies a number of
factors to take into account when examining the more problematic matches and
considering whether minor or major misconduct may have occurred (see Section 3 of
the NTU Code of Practice). The marker must raise the matter with the module leader
and the module team will be required to consult the programme leader and/or
academic team leader in any decision making or further action relating to alleged
minor or major misconduct.


1)      Is the scope of the suspected plagiarism ‘more than a single phrase’?

The NTU Code of Practice identifies as an example of plagiarism ‘the inclusion in a
candidate’s work of more than a single phrase from another person’s work without
the use of quotation marks and acknowledgement of the sources’ (see section 2.1).

It is quite probable that the marker may discover matches of partial sentences,
complete sentences, paragraphs, sections, tables and diagrams which are without
quotation marks and acknowledgement. The length of an individual match should be
one but not the only consideration. Indeed the code allows for the programme team
to consider misconduct which is of limited significance and to award it ‘minor’ status.
Further qualification can be found in section 3.1.4 - Minor Misconduct; ‘academic
misconduct is evident in a relatively small proportion of the piece of work submitted’.
It is important to remember that minor misconduct is normally applied to work which
is considered to be of a relatively low level or work submitted early in a student’s
career. If plagiarism occurs at level 3 is it not normally considered to be ‘minor’.



2)      Is the alleged plagiarism of limited or serious significance?

The University Common Assessment Regulation, section 13 provides the regulatory
framework in relation to academic misconduct. Central to the claim to Academic
Misconduct is the idea of gaining or seeking to gain advantage.

        ‘Academic Misconduct occurs where a student gains or seeks to gain
        advantage in examinations or assessment contrary to the established
        conditions under which students’ knowledge, abilities or skills are
        assessed for progression towards or for the conferment of an award.’

Identified over the page are a number of considerations to take into account when
forming this judgment:




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                              8



i)      The value of the plagiarised material

The programme team, in consultation with the appropriate ATL, are likely to form a
judgement about the relative value of the plagiarised extract(s) and hence the
potential advantage the student would gain. If the plagiarised content is of a
descriptive, contextual nature then it could be argued that it is of limited value if it is
peripheral to the assessment learning outcomes or assessment criteria. In examples
where the amount of plagiarised material may be substantial but the substance is
peripheral and does not give the student an advantage (limited significance), the
student’s assignment is likely to score a low mark or be referred, by virtue of their
failure to meet the learning outcomes for the assessment.

This does not alter the fact that the student sought to gain an advantage, however
slight this might be. It is important in all cases that the student is made aware that
their approach is not acceptable and that even if it is considered that they did not
gain an advantage that it is nevertheless either an example of poor
scholarship/academic practice or it is plagiarism and has been appropriated acted
upon.

By contrast plagiarised extracts which are central to the assessment task would give
the student an unfair advantage over their peers, if detected and not acted upon.
Any subsequent penalties or consequences that arise (in line with the NTU Code of
Practice) should recognise this.


ii)     Plagiarism or poor scholarship?

Here the marker needs to form a judgement about the student’s understanding and
application of the programme’s citation and referencing conventions. They will need
to decide if the affected material is a clear case of plagiarism or whether on balance
it is more likely to be a case of poor scholarship (See case studies pp 10-15).

Identified below are some legitimate questions to ask when forming this judgement:

To what extent is the student consistently demonstrating that they are unable to cite
and reference to an acceptable standard?

Is there evidence elsewhere in the assignment to suggest the student does know
how to acknowledge and reference sources correctly?

Given the guidance and documentation available within the programme to each
student is it reasonable therefore to expect students to know what to do?

Is it possible that there is confusion and conflicting advice within the programme
about what is expected?

On balance is it reasonable to conclude that the                       student   has   genuinely
misunderstood the principles of citation and referencing?




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                    9


iii)    Is there evidence of a deliberate intention to mislead the marker?

The issue of deliberate intent is a potentially contentious area in which to form a
judgement. Indeed the current code has deliberately steered away from using this
approach. There is no longer a requirement for the programme team to demonstrate
deliberate intent. Nevertheless the originality reports do give the marker very
detailed information about how the student’s work has been constructed. Examples
might include the cutting and pasting of a patchwork sequence of plagiarised
sentences or the inclusion of false citations whereby the student conceals the
plagiarised source or alters material in such a way as to give the impression that the
extract is their own work.     It would be legitimate to use such examples in the
questioning of a student as part of a division based investigation or if necessary at
an AIP.

Section 2.2 of the NTU Code of Practice gives a further example of plagiarism which
is helpful in such a scenario.

‘the summarising of another person’s work by simply changing or altering the order
of the presentation without acknowledgment’.




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                     10




                                        Case Examples


The following examples are taken from a sample of originality reports and give a
useful insight into the level of detail that is available. The distinction between
plagiarism and poor scholarship can at times be difficult to unravel. The following
examples have used the NTU Academic Misconduct: Code of Practice to make this
distinction.

The identification of potential academic misconduct is the first step, taking it further
whether in terms of the minor or major route is matter for the programme team and
in the more serious cases the Academic Team Leader. In all cases reference should
be made to the School’s procedures for the handling of academic misconduct. It is
important to restate that it is the Board of Examiners’ responsibility in cases of
proven major misconduct ‘to judge the seriousness of the case and to exercise its
reasonable discretion accordingly in determining a penalty’ (section 2.2 NTU Code of
Practice).




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                              11


Example A: Plagiarism

Exclusion


1    'Much more might be done, by both schools and LEAs, to avoid exclusion. Evidence


suggests 1    that schools' use of exclusion was occasionally severe, without being


    effective. For many children who are permanently excluded, the chances of re -


    entering mainstream education is remote and the alternatives are, in the present state


    of provision, too often expensive and inadequate. Some schools are well aware of this


    and work hard to retain even the most difficult pupils. That work is of fundamental


    importance, since no democratic society can afford to write off thousands of young


    people'. (OFSTED, 1996). Bad behaviour and violence are clearly unacceptable, inside


    or outside the classroom. However, exclusions from school have an impact that goes


    far beyond the individual school: they affect local businesses, the police, and victims


    of crime, social services and the wider community. They also have a heavy impact on


    the excluded child, who often leaves school with little chance of re-entering


    mainstream education or training. In essence, the issues of exclusion from school


    can be seen as a matter of equality of opportunity. Do we define it as giving


    everybody just one bite of the cherry? If you fail at your first attempt in mainstream


    education should society then give up on you? Or do we see equality of opportunity


    as more than a single chance to get your foot on a narrow ladder?




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                          12


Discussion:

The original source of the material is the New Policy Institute (NPI) website, yet the
student does not acknowledge this through a citation or a reference.

A lengthy quotation is identified in the first eight lines of the paragraph and OFSTED
is identified by the student as the source. OFSTED is indeed the source of this
quotation and appears on the NPI website duly attributed. There are two concerns
the first is that the student has not cited the quotation correctly and secondly by not
revealing NPI as the source the student is able to give the impression that the
remainder of the paragraph is in their own words.

In addition there are several examples of where the student has changed the
paragraph wording:

               ORIGINAL                                            STUDENT VERSION
   The evidence of this survey suggests                             Evidence suggests
                draconian                                                severe
                   are                                                       is
                  issue                                                   issues
          Heading - Introduction                                   A heading is missing


The NTU Code of Practice identifies as an example of plagiarism ‘the inclusion in a
candidate’s work of more than a single phrase from another person’s work without
the use of quotation marks and acknowledgement of the sources’.

Clearly this extract is an example of plagiarism; it is more than a single phrase and
the source of the material the NPI website is not acknowledged. In addition the
originality report also reveals how the paragraph was created and in particular how
the student changed some of the text to fit their purpose.




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                      13



Example B: Plagiarism or poor scholarship?


1.1. The probation service Defined.

The National Probation Service is a Law Enforcement Agency and Public
Authority. The idea of the probation service is to assist offenders

who have been released from prison, and to assist offenders who 2           have


  not been given a custodial sentence for their offences and who need to


  be monitored         on a regular basis. Roles of the probation service

include the protection of the public, to reduce re-offending, to
rehabilitate offenders and to make them aware of the damage caused by

their crimes 2     on the public. Offenders are continually assessed


  throughout their supervision by the probation service, this means that


  if appointments with Probation Officers or hours agreed serving


  Community Punishment are not kept to, the offender risks returning to


  court for breaching their contract.            Therefore a custodial sentence may

be served.
BBC. 2005 [online]


Discussion:

This extract is a typical example that you are likely to come across in originality
reports. It demonstrates how the student has taken material from an online source
and created a patchwork of text using a mixture of their own sentences and several
from the online source to construct a paragraph. The source of the online material
‘BBC online’ has been identified but the student has failed to identify with quotation
marks the extracts which belong to this source. In addition there are also examples
of where the student has changed the wording to suit their purpose.




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                             14



              ORIGINAL                                           STUDENT VERSION
Have not been given a custodial sentence              Have not been given a custodial sentence
       and need to be monitored                        for their offences and who need to be
                                                                      monitored
            On the public at large                                   On the public
                  allotted                                              agreed


When comparing a student’s originality report with the original source it is also useful
to examine the paragraphs immediately preceding and following the highlighted
extract. If we examine one such example you can see how the student has changed
the text and rather than acknowledging this as a paraphrase the student gives the
impression that the words are their own.


                 ORIGINAL                                         STUDENT VERSION
     The role of the NPS includes the                        Roles of the probation service
protection of the public, the reduction of              include the protection of the public, to
 re-offending, the proper punishment of                         reduce re-offending, to
    offenders in the community, the                    rehabilitate offenders and to make them
 rehabilitation of offenders and to make                    aware of the damage caused by
offenders aware of the damaging effect                                 their crimes
                  of crime


Section 2.2 of the NTU Code of Practice gives a further example of plagiarism:

‘the summarising of another person’s work by simply changing or altering the order
of the presentation without acknowledgment’.

So in summary whilst the student had acknowledged the source of their material this
is an example of plagiarism for the following reasons:

    •	   Quotation marks are not used to identify the verbatim extracts from BBC
         online

    •	   Paraphrased extracts are not given due acknowledgement

    •	   The problematic sentences are more than a single phrase




Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006) 

                                                                                             15


Example C: Plagiarism or poor scholarship?

The New Labour management agenda changed the role of educators. Mulderrig
argues (2003, p.5) 'that 1 goals and values of education redefined what

  education is       for'. New Labour 'opened 1 up education to business values,

  interests, principles, methods of management and funding'                   (Mulderrig, 2003,
p.6). By putting emphasis on these principles modernization helped
construct economic competitiveness as its core rationale running through
New Labours educational initiatives' (Mulderrig, 2003, p.6) For these
management policies to operate well, education had to be changed and
adapted once again by 'diversification in the types of schools available'
(Mulderrig, 2003, p.8). By incorporating these values schools had to 'open
up their services for 1 competition for enrolments through a variety of

  marketing techniques and performance league tables, and attaching funding

  to enrolment figures, thereby running pupils into economically measurable

  commodities        (Mulderrig, 2003,p.8).


Discussion

In this example the student relies heavily upon the work of Mulderrig (2003) and
uses a sequence of short quotations to construct their argument. It is not always
clear where each quotation starts and finishes but in each case the student
acknowledges the source of their material with an author, year and page number.
The student also makes some slight adjustments in the reproduction of the quotation
(see below). This is not an example of plagiarism but there are some issues which
are related to scholarship and this is mostly to do with the use of quotations to
construct an argument.

                ORIGINAL                                          STUDENT VERSION
Therefore creating a market in education,             By incorporating these values schools had
means diversification in the types of                 to 'open
                                                      up their services for competition for
schools available in the State sector [6] and         enrolments through a variety of
opening their services up to competition for          marketing techniques and performance
enrolments through various marketing                  league tables, and attaching funding
techniques and performance league                     to enrolment figures, thereby running
tables, and attaching funding to enrolment            pupils into economically measurable
                                                      commodities (Mulderrig, 2003,p.8).
figures, thereby turning pupils into
economically measurable commodities.


Ann Liggett – Learning and Teaching Coordinator 

School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University (June 2006)