*FROM: THE PLAGIARISM HANDBOOK:
Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with
Plagiarism by Robert A. Harris
Top Three Strategies for Preventing Plagiarism
1. Require specific components for
the paper. Develop a set of requirements that allow flexibility but
that also prevent a canned or downloaded paper from fitting the
+ At least two sources must be less than a
+ Include a table of data collected by the student in a
survey or experiment.
+ Include a discussion or analysis of a
specific book or article named by the instructor.
+ Make use of
at least two books, three articles, two Web articles, and an
2. Require process steps. To prevent a student
from handing in a paper downloaded or borrowed the night before the
assignment is due, require that you see evidence of ongoing
construction of the paper. Points should be given to each piece of
the process, so that a student who hands in a paper without turning
in the pieces will not pass the assignment. Consider requiring some
of these steps, spread out over the time allotted for creating the
+ Explanation of topic chosen
+ Research plan
+ Annotated preliminary
+ Prospectus (the problem, possible approaches or
solutions, writer’s proposed approach)
+ Rough draft
(on which you make suggestions for additional sources or
+ Final draft
3. Require copies of sources.
Have students attach printouts of articles or Web pages cited and
photocopies of printed articles and book pages used. Have them
highlight the words they have quoted or otherwise cited. Comparing
the sources to the paper will enable you to determine how
effectively the students use source material. You may also find
uncited material in the paper that is plagiarized from one of the
sources. When students know that their sources are attached, they
may be more careful in using them.
Top Three Strategies for Detecting Plagiarism
A large percentage of student
plagiarism appears to be coming from the Web because searching,
copying, and pasting are so easy. These strategies focus on finding
information taken from the Web.
1. Use the Google-Plus-Four
method. Google (www.google.com) is a search engine with a very large
database, and it is one of the best places to begin. Find a
four-word phrase that appears to be unique to the paper or paragraph
you suspect. For example, in a paper about Dickens’ Great
Expectations, the phrase “Pip still snobbishly thought” was chosen
because “Pip” is an unusual word and the phrase “snobbishly thought”
is unusual as well. The two items together are probably close to
being unique. Next, take the phrase to Google and perform an exact
phrase search by typing the phrase into the search window, and
surrounding it with quotation marks. In the case of the Dickens
paper, Google returned two Web sites containing the stolen paper.
Using other search engines may also be useful, as well as a
metasearch tool such as Dogpile (www.dogpile.com).
2. Look at
online paper mills. Go to Google and type in “free term papers” and
you will find many sites. The sites are often linked with each other
(some even plagiarize each other’s papers), so you can visit
several. Search by subject or title. For paper mills that sell
papers, try Essay Finder (www.essayfinder.com). Search by subject.
Compare the description of the paper (including length and number of
citations) with your suspect paper.
3. Try a software
approach. Visit http://www.plagiarism.phys.virginia.edu for
Final Advice to Instructors
experience, other than the whole-paper or paragraph-after-paragraph
type of plagiarism, much plagiarism occurs through the student’s
lack of understanding about how to quote, paraphrase, and cite
sources. Many students simply do not know what they are doing.
Providing them with clear instruction about plagiarism and how to
avoid it will help reduce the amount you see.
The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing,
Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism
Using Sources Effectively:
Strengthening Your Writing and Avoiding Plagiarism Copyright
2002 Pyrczak Publishing.