First-Year Preceptorial

Tips on Preventing Plagiarism

Explain what plagiarism is

Many first-year students have picked up confused or incorrect information about plagiarism in high school.  They may, for example, think that only direct quotes need to be cited, not paraphrased information, or that anything taken from the internet is fair for them to use.

  • Inform students of how seriously plagiarism is viewed by the College, that it is an academic offense with grave consequences. 
  • Remind them that crediting sources appropriately is an important feature of academic writing, an indication of the community of scholars that all academic writers respect. 
  • Tell them the ground-rules of what constitutes acceptable use of the words or ideas of others and what is unacceptable.  (The Dean for Undergraduate Education distributes a pamphlet on plagiarism at Orientation to all first-year students which you could remind them to read and consult when they have questions.) 

Make your assignments unique as a way of discouraging plagiarism

Effective assignment design is the best way to prevent plagiarism.  The following assignment suggestions prevent students from simply downloading a paper from the internet. 

  • Ask students to incorporate ideas from class discussion into their essays. 
  • Ask students to apply concepts to a local situation or recent event.
  • Ask students to write essays that incorporate at least two texts or ideas from your course:
    • require essays that discuss at least two readings assigned in your class
    • require students to discuss a theory, framework, or concept introduced in your class in relation to one of the readings 
    • require students to apply an analysis of the reading to your course theme

Emphasize the writing process and require evidence of it

  • Ask students to submit a proposal or provisional thesis for longer papers
  • Require peer and/or instructor response to drafts
  • Require students to submit previous drafts with the final paper
  • Require an annotated bibliography of sources used for a research paper
  • Require  photocopies of title pages or entire articles cited in research papers

Other ideas to help you better understand plagiarism and to minimize it.