Plagiarism can be due to a lack of knowledge of proper citation practices. It also happens when students copy the work of others or purchase papers outright. The ease of digital data sharing has contributed to the problem.
The library is happy to help instructors in teaching their students about the issues surrounding plagiarism. We can provide instruction in the library or in your classroom, and we have resources for students on our website about plagiarism, its consequences, and proper citation methods. We can also help you write nearly plagiarism-proof assignments.
Our best resources are the four IRIS tutorial modules on avoiding plagiarism and doing citations properly:
Plagiarism detection is not easy. The library offers help to instructors when they suspect someone has plagiarized. Students may copy from published and online works, or from other students. Changes in tone, voice, or in writing level can be clues. One approach to try when suspecting a passage or paper has been copied is to Google it. Paste a sentence or even an entire paragraph into Google and see if it finds a link. Another is to use unique language from the work for a full-text search in some of the library's periodical and research databases.
There are products designed to help with detection, but none in use here at Whatcom. BlackBoard has a product called SafeAssign that checks paper originality against web sites and an archived paper database. Turn-it In is a company that offers a similar service. It is the most widely used service of its kind in the country, and is useful in the cases of students copying from other students.
Updated July 7, 2011
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