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Plagiarism Guide for Faculty

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Indicators of possible plagiarism

  1. Does the paper include a work cited list?  If so, are the sources recent or are they all several years old?

  2. Does it have unusual formatting, such as grayed out letters?

  3. Is the quality of writing consistent?  Does it have a mixture of different writing styles?  Does it have a sophisticated body but poor introduction or conclusion? Is the writing level characteristic of the student’s previous works?

  4. Does the paper address the assignment requirements?  Does it cover areas beyond the requirements but leaves out portions that should be addressed.

Opportunities for Clarification

 Keep in mind that papers may be plagiarized unintentionally because students are unaware of just how inclusive plagiarism is.  Detection by a teacher can present an opportunity for instruction and correction.

 Writing in one's own words in particularly difficult for ESL students who may understand the content but whose English vocabulary is not robust enough to re-word an idea.  

Consider asking students to submit a draft of their paper for you to review before you accept their final assignment.

Tracking down plagiarism

  1. Ask the student to provide copies of cited material. Check with them to see if the materials were obtained from the library, the web, or somewhere else.

  2. Search for unique or unusual words, phrases or sentences using search engines such as Google. Bing, or Yahoo.  These search engines have turned out to be the most popular ones among the students.  Enclose the phrases or sentences in quotation marks to ensure a phrase search. Please note that most search engines search for a maximum of ten words.  Be sure to look for options like the Google Advanced Search to conduct more complicated searches. Google support provides some advanced Google search tips

  3. Check our library databases.  Although most students will plagiarize directly from the open Web, some may copy from the sources retrieved from the library databases.  The most popular & comprehensive  full-text database that is available through Reynolds libraries is Academic Search Complete.

  4. Check Internet paper mills that sell or offer free papers.  Coastal Carolina University has maintained a comprehensive list of Internet paper mills.