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Curbing Plagiarism

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Tips from Karen C. Krahulik, Brown University

1. Assign paper topics that are specific rather than general.

2. Require students to submit shorter, preliminary papers—book reviews, in-class essays, journal entries--so that you can assess their writing skills before the final paper is due. Keep these early assignments in student portfolios that you can consult later.

3. Vary your written assignments from year to year, class to class, and even within each class. You might have your students do a design project that includes text (a poster, website, content map) in addition to traditional essays and papers.

4. Require a written outline, rough drafts, and paper notes (have students submit these earlier in the semester—pair students randomly and ask them to comment on each other's preliminary drafts). Do not allow students to change paper topics at the last minute (or ask for a detailed explanation of why a last-minute change is necessary).

5. Meet with each student to discuss progress being made toward the final paper.

6. Ask for copies of cited or footnoted articles.

7. Make sure the assignment is specific and clear with expected lengths, styles, scope, methodologies, sources, etc.

8. Require students to use at least one specific source (e.g. a specific journal, a "text" from popular culture, a visual image, etc.).

9. Have students present their paper topics and research methodologies in class.

10. Have students submit an essay on the research process—you might make this in the form of a surprise in-class assignment for the last class.

11. Require that students either sign an integrity pledge or write a few sentences about the academic code on a separate sheet that is handed in with the final paper.

12. Use non-traditional assignment strategies: ask for three opening paragraphs to the final paper, ask for a personal commentary on the research process, require two opposing viewpoints of the same issue, etc.