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Avoiding Plagiarism for FCPS Faculty & Students: Especially for Instructors

This LibGuide contains information and resources for faculty and students to learn about plagiarism and how to avoid it.

The Library Can Help!

Your high school's librarian can help you teach students how to avoid plagiarism and be a support for detection and education. The goal is for the students to be information literate and to realize what plagiarism is and why it is harmful.  According to the Association of College and Research Libraries' "Framework for Information Literacy," students may struggle to understand the diverse values of information in an environment where “free” information and related services are plentiful and the concept of intellectual property is first encountered through rules of citation or warnings about plagiarism and copyright law." One of the basic goals is to make sure students "give credit to the original ideas of others through proper attribution and citation."

According to the American Association of School Libraries "Framework for Learners," students are also to expected to "use valid information and reasoned conclusions to make ethical decisions in the creation of knowledge by (1) Ethically using and reproducing others' work, (2) Acknowledging authorship and demonstrating respect for the intellectual property of others, and (3) Including elements in personal-knowledge products that allow others to credit content appopriately." 

Sources: 

ACRL Framework for Information Literacy

AASL Learner Framework

Source: Minnesota State University LibGuide on Plagiarism.

FCPS Modules

FCPS-generated modules forthcoming. 

  • After you have read and closely studied the first three tabs in this guide ("Welcome", "Academic Integrity at FCPS", and "Student Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism" + subtabs) take this 10-question quiz to see what you learned. 

Action Steps for Avoiding Plagiarism in the Classroom

MAKE THE INSTRUCTION ABOUT PLAGIARISM AS POSITIVE AS POSSIBLE: 

  • Make clear the district's/school's policy for dealing with plagiarism. Include the policy in the syllabus.
  • Show examples of proper usage of sources as well as examples of plagiarism.
  • Discuss the benefits of citing sources.
  • Schedule a library instruction session for your students so they can learn more about plagiarism or use one of the ready-to-go lessons in this guide 

STUDENT RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Understanding the definition of cheating and the types of conduct that are deemed unacceptable. 
  • Refraining from cheating, plagiarizing, facilitating academic dishonest, abusing academic materials, stealing, or lying. 
  • Reporting every instance in which the student has knowledge that academic dishonesty has taken place. 

Source: Lindsey Weaver's (MHS) Popcorn PD Session on Plagiarism

WHEN ASSIGNING A LARGE PROJECT OR PAPER: 

  • Construct assignments to prevent plagiarism. Consider providing a list of highly specific or unusual topics so it is less likely to find off the shelf papers on the topic.
  • Break the assignment into components with multiple due dates and check points/feedback along the way so students have time to work on the assignment. Poor time management, pressure of workload, and stress are some reasons why plagiarism occurs.
  • Allow opportunities for corrections and/or for students to ask questions. 
  • Have students submit an annotated bibliography of the sources used including an evaluation about the usefulness of the source. This will help students reflect on the quality and reliability of the source.
  • Schedule a library instruction session for your students so they can learn about the variety of information resources available to them and how to access these resources, evaluate them, and use them effectively in their papers.
  • When students hand in their papers have them submit an integrity statement to show that they are the true authors of the paper.

Most of the content taken from:

Harris, Robert A., and Vic Lockman. The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for
     Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism
. Los Angeles, Pyrczaj,
     2001.

Other helpful resources: 

The Art and Science of Teaching: Helping Students Process Information, Educational Leadership, October, 2009 

Assignment Calculator - University of Minnesota Libraries

  • Geared towards college students, yet an accurate and helpful way to break down larger assignments based on due dates

AVOID REUSING ASSIGNMENTS WTHOUT TIMELY MODIFICATIONS:

  • Update with new expectations.
  • Employ new technology.
  • Make changes based on results from previous years. 

How to Make Student Choice Work by Lauren Gehr (Edutopia, February 2020)

To engage students, give them meaningful choices in the classroom by Frieda Parker, Jodie Novak, and Tonya Bartell (Phi Delta Kappan, November 2017)

STUDENTS ASSESS THROUGHOUT THE RESEARCH AND CREATION PROCESS: 

As students progress through a project or paper that requires research, ask them to reflect and assess their own learning throughout the process, not just at the end. 

  • Explain purpose of learning activity. 
  • Provide opportunities for virtual and in-class discussions about project or paper. 
  • Pose questions that are not Google-able.
  • Design activities where students have to demonstrate learning in stages. 
  • Provide opportunities for students to reflect on learning: Students (1) Explain what they accomplished, (2) Explain how to they arrived at their final product, (3) Identify successes, (4) Identify struggles and ways to improve. 

 

REQUIRE STUDENTS TO CITE SOURCES CORRECTLY:

TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO SEARCH AND USE CREATIVE COMMONS MEDIA:

CONSISTENTLY FOLLOW PROGRESSIVE DISCIPLINE POLICY: 

While each school employs variations on an Academic Integrity or School Honor code, every school has a progressive discipline plan in place. Make sure to follow that plan immediately upon recognizing that plagiarism has occurred: 

  • Address incident with student to try to understand
    • Intentional or honest mistake?
    • Gauge their understanding of cheating and plagiarism. 
  • Contact administration and guidance to discuss next steps.
  • Contact parents.
  • Meet with parents, student, and administration to determine further consequence. 

Ready-to-Go Lessons & Documents to Share

Strategies for Detecting Plagiarism

STANDARD CLUES:

  1. Mixed citation or bibliographic styles (i.e. some paragraphs containing APA style, some containing MLA style).
  2. Lack of citations or quotations.
  3. Unusual formatting, incorrect spacing or lines - indicators of a cut/paste job.
  4. Glaring inconsistency in diction or style (paragraphs containing a mix of sophisticated and colloquial language).
  5. The paper is off-topic and doesn't develop its intended idea.
  6. Abnormally long sentences. Studies have shown that in a good college freshman class, sentences are generally 20-22 words on average.

IF YOU SUSPECT PLAGIARISM:

  1. Search suspicious sentences or paragraphs in Google by enclosing them in quotations.
  2. Try a keyword in the subject appropriate database(s).
  3. Seek help from your school's librarian. 

Source: Southern Connecticut State University Plagiarism LibGuide

Plagiarism Detectors

For a first line of defense when you suspect plagiarism, try a Google Search with the methods described here. There are also many plagiarism detection services that are available for free and for a fee. Please see a list of Plagiarism Checkers in this guide.

Questions? Your FCPS Librarian Can Help!

Ask us for help

Click "Ask Us!"  for your librarian's contact info.

Additional Teacher Resources

Source: Minnesota State University LibGuide on Plagiarism.