Plagiarism Detection and Prevention
Detection | Prevention | Internet Paper Mills | Handouts for Discussion | Additional Sources
Use online services that check papers for plagiarism. Currently, the College of DuPage does not subscribe as an institution to any online service. However, many of these services offer temporary trials and personal subscriptions. Consult Turnitin.com, Eve Plagiarism Detection Service, or SurfWax Scholar.
Check bibliographies. Do the sources reflect information that could be reasonably obtained by this student?
Look for weird formatting, unusual spacing, or different fonts in the paper. When students copy and paste from web sites, they often forget to check fonts and their sizes. If it looks funny it probably has been lifted from another online source.
Use search engines, like Google, to catch phrases or sentences from web sites. To do this, simply place quotation marks around the sentence or phrase when conducting the search. Google will look for it exactly how it has been entered. Unique searches can be conducted in article databases as well. Ask any library staff member for tips about choosing a database.
Look for awkward, unique or odd phrases. Does the student use language not commonly seen? If so, check their bibliographies more closely. Many sources students use can be found in local libraries or in one of our article databases.
Use boolean searches to connect key words from the questionable material. For example, use the word AND to connect unique words. Likewise, the words NOT and OR will also help refine searches.
Look for outdated bibliographies. Often "swapped" or purchased papers will be old and their sources will reflect that.
1. Educate your students about plagiarism
- Hand out copies of the C.O.D. Policy on Course Related Academic Integrity
- Give examples of plagiarism. For example, can a student submit the same paper to two different classes? If not, how much of it has to be changed?
- Show clips from videos that discuss ways and reasons why students plagiarize
- Have discussions about why students plagiarize and what happened to them.
- Show actual papers from a paper mill to stress that you are aware of them.
Include a definition and penalties on your syllabus.
- Refer them to an online tutorial about plagiarism. This site is sponsored by Fairfield University and has a quiz at the end that can be printed.
2. Get their writing "fingerprinted"
- Ask for a sample essay at the beginning of the term.
- Creat writing portfolios for them in order to track their progress.
- Get their opinions, in writing, about what they understand plagiarism to be.
- Ask about their previous papers or speeches in order to understand how they managed those.
3. Make sure they know you use the Internet
- Mention the Internet Paper Mills and your opinion of them.
- Have students submit papers via email or on a disk in order to check them quickly for plagiarism.
- Share how you use the Internet and technology. If they think you are not Internet saavy, they may be tempted to submit a plagiarized paper in hopes that you will not bother to check it or won't know how.
4. Give very specific assignments
- Provide a list of approved topics and change them each quarter.
- Require that an original sources be used as a source for the paper such as an interview, survey or experiment.
- Require them to tie the issue in with something local.
- Make papers no more than five pages in length. This allows you to concentrate on fewer sources and more manageable topics.
5. Stress and give credit for the research process
- Require evidence of research at many points. For example, have them submit sources before the paper is due. This helps them to manage their time and avoid procrastination which leads to plagiarism.
- Use student peer groups to check their progress.
- Use research journals as a way for them to give evidence of how they conducted their research and managed their paper.
- Include points in your grading rubric for the quality of sources or research conducted.
6. Require evidence of synthesis
- Have students highlight those areas that are "fresh" ideas in their paper.
- Allow time for in-class presentations.
7. Give evidence that you are interested in their work
- Know your students' names..
- Ask for an abstract of the paper after they have handed it in.
- Make comments on papers when grading.
- Check bibliographies. (Librarians can give you tips on how to do that.)
- Assess process of research along the way.
8. Keep papers in a secure area
- Avoid posting papers on nonsecure areas of web sites.
- Create your own database of submitted papers so that you can quickly test future papers for plagiarism.
Internet Paper Mills
Internet paper mills are web sites that offer papers for free or for sale. Many of these sites allow students to download a paper only if they submit one. Other sites allow anyone to submit any paper to their database. Cost for papers can vary. Many have a flat fee for each paper. Others charge by the page. The going rate for a pre-written paper is $9.95/page. Customized papers can run upwards of $50.00.
Here is a portal to a huge list of Internet Paper Mills. This list is maintained by Peggy Bates and Margaret Fain, faculty at Coastal Carolina Unversity.
To find other possible sources of term papes, simply type in "free term papers" in any search engine. Papers from these sites are often not searchable by search engines.
Updated January 27, 2006
Christine Kickels, Associate Professor and Librarian