These information below is designed to support faculty in creating a culture of academic integrity in their classrooms. Specifically, they address plagiarism prevention, detection, and reporting. The information also emphasizes the importance of teaching students proper and citation and documentation practices. This resource has been divided into five main areas:
- What is Plagiarism? — FAQs from faculty on definitions of academic misconduct.
- Prevention — measures faculty can take to help prevent Plagiarism within undergraduates’ written work.
- Detection — ways to detect Plagiarism.
- How to Handle a Plagiarism Situation — information on University of Connecticut guidelines including proper notification to an implicated student.
- Citation Help — information is provided for citing online resources using MLA, APA and Chicago style.
- Recognizing The Teaching Moment in A Plagiarism Case — faculty should also consider how a plagiarism situation can be turned into something more than punitive.
If you have a question about Internet Plagiarism as it relates to the University of Connecticut Student Conduct Code, please contact Dr.Stuart Brown, Director of Student Services at 203-236-9847 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
What is Plagiarism?
Internet Plagiarism Prevention Measures
The responsibility for preventing plagiarism and academic dishonesty falls on instructors across the disciplines and at all levels of the curriculum. At the Waterbury campus, students receive an introduction to academic integrity and related issues in their First-Year Experience course (FYE), although it is worth noting that FYE instructors do not address specific documentation practices here and neither are all students required to take FYE. Students receive more in-depth instruction in academic integrity in Freshman English (which most incoming students are required to take), but this instruction is primarily in MLA (Modern Language Association) documentation practices and guidelines. Therefore, it is crucial that instructors beyond these courses spend time teaching their students about the appropriate practices in their specific disciplines and remind students about UConn’s rules governing academic integrity.
There are a number of other proactive strategies faculty can take to lessen Internet-based plagiarism. A six point list is enumerated below. A comprehensive policy, “Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices,” has been developed by the Council of Writing Program Administrators.
- Statement on Course Syllabi–Faculty should include a statement on their course syllabi about academic misconduct. The University of Connecticut Student Code, under the heading, “Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research,” reads:
“Academic misconduct is dishonest or unethical academic behavior that includes, but is not limited, to misrepresenting mastery in an academic area (e.g., cheating), intentionally or knowingly failing to properly credit information, research or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research or ideas as your own (e.g., plagiarism).”
Click here for sample statements about academic integrity from UConn-Waterbury faculty’s syllabi.
- In-Class Discussion–A quick “Plagiarism Quiz” developed by Karen Cajka, a former Freshman English Coordinator at the University of Connecticut, can be downloaded for use in the classroom.
- Crafting Assignments–Assignments can be designed to stem and discourage plagiarism.
- Citing Online Sources–Faculty are responsible for teaching their students how to cite and document sources. This can help prevent unintentional plagiarism.
- Utilize Library Services–
- Librarians are available to collaborate on assignments and assist in creating meaningful research experiences for your students.
- Schedule a tailored research session with a librarian for your class. Students overcome fears associated with research in these workshops. Sessions focus on selecting appropriate sources, searching library databases and the Web, or evaluating information.
- Contact Waterbury Campus Librarian Shelley Goldstein at Shelley.Goldstein@uconn.edu to schedule an in-class session.
Helpful Hints in Detecting Internet Plagiarism
Detecting plagiarism and incidents of academic dishonesty can be difficult particularly in the digital age. In this section you will find some resources on ways to detect instances of plagiarism. Please also refer to the resources on how to make these punitive moments teaching moments, in addition to some of the pedagogical problems with plagiarism detection services like Turnitin.com and SafeAssign.
Detecting plagiarism derived from the Internet does not always require the use of high tech tools or sophisticated search techniques. Many times, especially in lower division courses, the “clues” are rather straightforward. For example, Shelley Goldstein, the Waterbury Campus head librarian, instructs faculty to look for the following as examples of potential plagiarism indicators:
- Unusual formatting
- Strange layout
- Essay was printed from a browser
- References with missing citations
- Is a paper off topic with loosely related paragraphs and awkward construction?
- Extensive use of jargon or advanced vocabulary.
- Frequent changes in terminology consistent with extensive cutting & pasting.
Handling a Plagiarism Situation
It is not always easy to decide whether to charge a student with plagiarism. In this section you will find resources to help you make the decision, including a series of scenarios of academic dishonesty and possible responses to those. As you make the decision as to whether or not to formally charge a student with academic misconduct, keep in mind that although it may be a student’s first infraction in your class, he or she may have already plagiarized in other classes. If instructors continue to deal with the issue “behind closed doors” rather than through the official channels, students who need to both be punished for and educated about academic dishonesty are not getting those opportunities.
What do you do when you believe a student has plagiarized, using the Internet or not? Some faculty want to handle the matter “quietly” and simply have the student rewrite the paper. The Office of Student Affairs encourages faculty to follow the prescribed procedure which safeguards both the faculty member and the student. More importantly, if students know that faculty are treating Plagiarism seriously there is a better chance for reducing the practice.
Plagiarism Scenarios and Possible Responses
The specific steps to take are an abridged version of the University of Connecticut Student Code, Appendix A – Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research (italics have been added to key points):
- When the instructor of record or designee (instructor) believes that an act of academic misconduct has occurred s/he is responsible for saving the evidence in its original form and need not return any of the original papers or other materials to the student. Copies of the student’s work and information about other evidence will be provided to the student upon request.
- When an instructor believes there is sufficient information to demonstrate a case of academic misconduct, s/he shall notify the student in writing of the allegation of misconduct and the academic consequences that the instructor will impose. The written notification shall also inform the student whether the case has been referred to the Academic Misconduct Hearing Board for consideration of additional sanctions. The instructor shall send the written notification to the student with a copy to the Office of Student Affairs at the Waterbury Campus.
- The student has 5 business days from receipt of the written notice to respond to the instructor and/or to request a hearing (see “Academic Misconduct Board”). If the student does not respond within the allotted time the instructor’s sanctions shall be imposed. If the student requests a hearing the instructor shall forward the request to the Office of Student Affairs at the Waterbury Campus. If the student and the instructor reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the case the instructor shall notify the Office of Student Affairs of the agreement. The instructor shall also notify the Office of Student Affairs if s/he withdraws the allegation of misconduct. A student who has been notified that s/he has been accused of academic misconduct may not withdraw from the course in which the alleged misconduct has occurred without the approval of the Board.
- The appropriate academic consequence for serious offenses is generally considered to be failure in the course.
For less serious offenses regarding small portions of the course work, failure for that portion is suggested with the requirement that the student repeat the work for no credit. The following are guidelines for Academic Misconduct Sanctions to assist faculty in determining the type of sanction that should be assigned to an infraction. Sanction Guidelines
- Normally, written notification shall occur within thirty (30) days of the discovery of the alleged misconduct.
A sample charge letter, developed by the University of Connecticut’s Department of English, can also be downloaded and printed out on University letterhead. Stuart Brown from the Office of Student Affairs can assist faculty that have questions.
How to Properly Cite Materials From the Internet
There are many reasons why students do not properly cite source materials from the Internet. One of the most common is lack of knowledge. Bewilderment abounds as students seek the answer to the new-age question, “How do I cite off the Internet?” Below are two web sites that provide an excellent resource for faculty and students:
Citing Online Sources–
- Faculty are responsible for teaching their students how to cite and document sources.This can help prevent unintentional plagiarism.
- Another tool is Refworks, a citation tool that allows students to organize records and ultimately create bibliographies in a variety of formats. Their home page also includes a short video produced by the company. There is even a section on UConn-specific tutorials that briefly walk users through how to import citations from many library databases.
Recognizing The Teaching Moment in a Plagiarism Case
An opportunity to teach students about plagiarism also arises once a student has plagiarized. When punishing or charging a student with plagiarism, faculty should also consider how that moment can be turned into something more than punitive. Consider the following ways to make that moment into a teaching moment:
- The student rewrites the plagiarized assignment, using sources honestly and correctly for some credit or simply as an exercise in using sources responsibly (without getting credit). The student writes a reflection letter to the instructor about the differences between the two assignments.
- The student familiarizes him/herself with the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab) and does a short presentation to the instructor during office hours about the resources it provides on citation practices.
- The student studies the university’s honor code and writes a short essay about which aspects he/she violated.
- The student reads 1-2 short articles about academic integrity/plagiarism/cheating and writes a response paper to these using correct citation practices throughout.