Discussion of documentation creates an opportunity for us as instructors to discourage plagiarism in our students' work. Students often plagiarize because they are unaware that what they are doing qualifies as academic dishonesty, and our introduction to documentation—emphasizing why and what to document—can increase their appreciation of intellectual integrity.
Plagiarism might also occur when students are intimidated by an assignment. The suggestions contained throughout this guide will help you to create an environment in which students feel confident in their ability to respond to a writing situation. In addition, the following ideas will further discourage plagiarism:
- Acquaint students with a comprehensive definition of plagiarism. Students have often received the idea that plagiarizing means quoting verbatim without giving credit. A broader understanding acknowledges that extensive paraphrasing or claiming someone else's ideas can also qualify as plagiarism.
- Teach students about rhetorical context to discourage them from lifting someone else's ideas or even turning in an entirely plagiarized paper. Students are less likely to resort to these measures if they realize that someone else's writing is less suited to the current assignment than to the rhetorical context in which it originally appeared.
- More importantly, teach students about rhetorical context to equip them to address a writing assignment that might otherwise seem daunting. We want students to view writing assignments not as traps, but as part of a process in which they are equipped to engage.
- Require documentation of the research process and assess students' progress. This creates opportunities to head off intentional and unintentional instances of plagiarism before they occur.
- Refer students to any of the online guides listed below for further discussion of plagiarism and how to avoid it:
All links listed on this page will take you to other sites.
For additional advice to instructors, visit Penn State University Libraries' Plagiarism Resource Guide for Faculty.
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