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Preventing Plagiarism in Online Learning

The proliferation of information available on the internet – from journal articles to Google Scholar and Encyclopedia Britannica to the often maligned Wikipedia – makes research much easier than it was even ten years ago. It also makes it easier for students to plagiarize sections and whole papers from obscure published works.

However, there are ways to prevent plagiarism in the classroom and online.

Teach the rules.
Make sure that as a teacher, you ensure that your students follow the golden research rule: when it doubt, cite it. This goes for passages that are directly quoted and paraphrased.

Mix it up.
Technology has changed the way information can be presented. Instead of assigning traditional written papers, look at mixed media methods that allow students to showcase creativity and understanding. Consider videos, PowerPoint presentations and artwork as additional ways that students can complete their assignments.

Go unique.
My freshman English teacher in high school deliberately asked essay and test questions on information that was not included Cliffs Notes or Spark Notes. This way we had to read the books to get a passing grade in her class.

Check it out.
Consider requiring students to use a service like TurnItIn. Learners upload their papers and the service sends back a report indicating the percentage of original work. Have your students turn in both their paper and the TurnItIn report.

Hand out consequences.
Make plagiarism count. Ensure that there are known consequences for students who plagiarize and that the consequences are consistently applied when appropriate.

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