Designing out and Deterring Plagiarism

To reduce opportunities for any student to plagiarise, teach your students good academic practice, design-out opportunities for plagiarism in your assignments, and utilise standard university procedures to ensure that no student benefits from plagiarism.

Involve students in learning activities about plagiarism:

  • Include online learning materials that cover plagiarism and how it can be avoided in your course materials with course specific, relevant examples of what is not acceptable.
  • Use the library RefZone pages with guidance about referencing and avoiding plagiarism:
  • A good online tutorial to teach students about plagiarism is the one produced by Indiana University:How to Recognize Plagiarism: Tutorials and Tests
  • Include mandatory learning activities that engage students with correct citing, referencing etc (e.g., article reviews)
  • Include learning activities that engage students with marking sample (or each other’s) work against the assessment criteria and with a plagiarism-detecting tool (e.g., Turnitin)
  • Assess (handwritten) short pieces of student writing early on in a course and compare to assignment writing styles
  • Talk about plagiarism in the news, for example see

Design assignments that can’t easily be plagiarised:

  • Use ‘open-ended’ tasks rather than ‘closed’ tasks or ask students to reflect on their individual learning journey.
  • Create tasks where paraphrasing will not be sufficient – there are free online tools that will paraphrase content for students
  • Don’t rely on Turnitin – it does not pick up all copied content, and does not deter plagiarism
  • Ask students to apply theories, models and ideas to their experience or a case study rather than to explain or paraphrase the theory, model or idea.
  • Create unique assignment tasks where the answers can’t be found on the internet e.g., original case studies, recent news articles, detailed analysis of specific extracts etc
  • Avoid tasks that can be completed by accessing readily available banks of knowledge
  • Create new assignment tasks/essay titles for each cohort in negotiation with students
  • Break down a task into parts with specific deadlines, e.g., a plan, a literature review, an abstract, set of data, proposal.
  • Create assignments that engage students in solving current, relevant problems or making decisions
  • Include an additional task that can only be completed with thorough understanding of the final assignment e.g., an oral presentation, reflective account, short examination etc
  • Include a range of assignment formats e.g., report, poster, presentation, web-conference, blog posts, book/webpage review etc and combinations of formats
  • Include partially pre-prepared tasks with very short deadlines, e.g., case study analysis, application of methodology to data, curating material for exhibition or conference to be completed in 24 hours etc
  • Restrict the number of sources that can be used in an assignment and encourage students to use the reading list (you will also be more familiar with the content of those and easily spot plagiarism)
  • Ask students to show their working, e.g. include drafts, copies of sources etc

Use university regulations consistently

Useful References:

Carroll, J. (2013). A Handbook for Deterring Plagiarism in Higher Education (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

Ledwith, A., & Rísquez, A. (2008). Using anti-plagiarism software to promote academic honesty in the context of peer reviewed assignments. Studies in Higher Education, 33(4), 371–384.

Rogerson, A. M., & McCarthy, G. (2017). Using Internet based paraphrasing tools: Original work, patchwriting or facilitated plagiarism? International Journal for Educational Integrity, 13(2).

Walker, J. (2010). Measuring plagiarism: researching what students do, not what they say they do. Studies in Higher Education, 35(1), 41–59.

Warn, J. (2006). Plagiarism software: no magic bullet! Higher Education Research & Development, 25(2), 195–208.

Youmans, R. J. (2011). Does the adoption of plagiarism-detection software in higher education reduce plagiarism? Studies in Higher Education, 36(7), 749–761.