EIDT 6510: Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Posted: June 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

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I was not prepared for the shock that I received a couple of years ago when I inadvertently discovered blatant and extensive plagiarism in a manuscript that I had been asked to review for technical accuracy.  The editor had not shared details with me however it appeared to me by the disorganization, incompleteness, and inaccuracy of the content that the original author had bailed on the job and I quickly realized that I was being brought in to rescue the project.  I do not think that the editor initially realized the extent of the problems and she certainly was not aware that the author had copied and pasted vast amounts of content from internet sources throughout the book.  I discovered this quite by accident as I researched various aspects of the content for accuracy.  With each instance that I found I informed the editor and asked for direction.  Even more shocking than the discovery of the plagiarism was the editor’s initial response when she said that it should be okay since their plagiarism detection tool had not caught the problem.  It was only after I explained that the plagiarized web pages were often the top results offered by the search engines that she told me to rewrite the content.  This experience left me disappointed with both the actions of the author and the attitude of the editor.

Plagiarism is of no less concern in education as it is in the world of publishing, especially in the online learning environment.  The internet has put a seemingly infinite amount of immediately obtainable resources and information at our fingertips which is wonderful!  But this instant access to the treasure trove has left many online instructors wary of the potential increase in the prevalence of plagiarism perpetrated by students (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).  According to Jocoy and DiBiase, the issue of plagiarism is complicated, involving several types of plagiaristic behavior and occurring with various degrees of culpability, however, they also acknowledge the following,

Some educators suggest that concern with plagiarism should be more about teaching students to appreciate the development of knowledge, acknowledge intellectual contributions of other scholars, and represent the process of building on existing knowledge in the academic writing and less about violating rules and copyright laws (Jocoy & DiBiasi, 2006, para. 7)

This seems to suggest that educating students about plagiarism will prevent the incidence of plagiarism and perhaps this is true to some extent. However, Kent State University explains that there are many reasons students knowingly, or unknowingly, commit plagiarism including, fear of failure, poor time management, lack of consequences when an instructor or institution fails to report or enforce, lack of writing and research skills, and the student’s view “of the consequences of cheating as unimportant” (Kent State University Council of Writing Program Administrator, 2003, January, para. 1). As honorable or as skilled as we may wish that students will be in avoiding plagiarism, it is necessary to implement strategies to both prevent and detect such occurrences through education, instructor observation, and the use of automated plagiarism detection tools in the online learning environment.  Matt Petronzio highlights the following free and pay-for-use/subscription, software anti-plagiarism tool options in his blog post, Use These 10 Sites to Detect Plagiarism (Petronzio, M., 2012, August 29),

  1. Turnitin
  2. iThenticate
  3. Viper
  4. Plagiarism Checker
  5. Plagiarism Detect
  6. University of Maryland Dustball Plagiarism Detector
  7. Plagiarisma.Net
  8. PlagiarismSoftware.net (formerly Duplichecker)
  9. Check For Plagiarism.net
  10. EVE2: Essay Verification Engine

 

Despite the availability of plagiarism detection software, instructors can take additional steps to help students maintain a high level of academic integrity.  In their course video, Plagiarism and Cheating (2010), Professors Palloff and Pratt suggest that one way to prevent plagiarism is through the careful design of assignments and assessments, such as making assignments open-book, collaborative, and challenging where they must apply the information they have learned while being able to utilize their information resources and their classmates.  They go on to explain how even in the face-to-face classroom it is more practical to forego the use of surveillance-type methods, such as cameras and fingerprints by designing projects/assessments from the real-world perspective so that students “don’t feel the need to cheat.”

In my role as an online facilitator, I would strive to approach plagiarism and cheating in the manner described by Palloff and Pratt in conjunction with plagiarism detection software.  I would be sensitive to the nature of the offence and to the knowledge of the student regarding the issue of plagiarism, such that I might require a student upon the first offence to revise their assignment appropriately.  As my own knowledge of plagiarism grows, I must admit that I am becoming more fearful of unintentional plagiarism as I believe it is natural for students to refer to life experiences multiple times as they relate to course material.  This leaves me with a question…how does one avoid plagiarizing themselves?  What are your thoughts?

 

 

References

Jocoy, C., DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.

Kent State University Council of Writing Program Administrator. (2003, January). [Web page]. What are the causes of plagiarism and the to use and document sources appropriately? Retrieved June 13, 2014 from http://www2.kent.edu/writingcommons/faculty/plagiarismcauses.cfm

Laureate Education. (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating. [Video file]. Retrieved from course url.

Petronzio, M. (2012, August 29). Use these 10 sites to detect plagiarism. [Blog post]. Retrieved June 14, 2014 from http://mashable.com/2012/08/29/plagiarism-online-services/

 

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Comments
  1. bebedezign says:

    Lorena,
    Your post puts me in the mind of an article by Neil Waters, ” Why you can’t Cite Wikipedia in my Class” that I read when I first start my Bachelors Degree program here at Walden… Neil Waters is a History Professor at Middlebury College and the point of his story was after giving an assignment to his class he discovered that so many of his students had copy and pasted incorrect information from Wikipedia about two topics dealing with the history of early Japan 1637 -1638 and the Confucian Thinker.
    Waters, detect the problem by entering in keywords that multiple students had used in their reports through a Google search. Only to discover that Wikipedia is where his students received their erroneous information that was uncitable and possibly plagiarized. This article was a part of our resource reading about academic integrity and plagiarism. Just goes to show us that even though all this information is at our fingertips, all information is not reliable information if it cannot be properly cited.

    Reference;

    http://delivery.acm.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1145/1290000/1284635/p15-waters.pdf?ip=74.116.157.210&id=1284635&acc=ACTIVE%20SERVICE&key=FC59C477B4C27A0A%2EFC59C477B4C27A0A%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35&CFID=

  2. bebedezign says:

    Lorena,
    Your post puts me in the mind of an article by Neil Waters, ” Why you can’t Cite Wikipedia in my Class” that I read when I first start my Bachelors Degree program here at Walden… Neil Waters is a History Professor at Middlebury College and the point of his story was after giving an assignment to his class he discovered that so many of his students had copy and pasted incorrect information from Wikipedia about two topics dealing with the history of early Japan. Shimabara Rebellion of 1637 -1638 and the Confucian Thinker Ogyu Sorai.
    Waters, detect by entering in keywords through a Google search where his students received their erroneous information that was uncitable and possibly plagiarized. This article was a part of our resource reading about academic integrity and plagiarism. Lorena,
    Your post puts me in the mind of an article by Neil Waters, ” Why you can’t Cite Wikipedia in my Class” that I read when I first start my Bachelors Degree program here at Walden… Neil Waters is a History Professor at Middlebury College and the point of his story was after giving an assignment to his class he discovered that so many of his students had copy and pasted incorrect information from Wikipedia about two topics dealing with the history of early Japan 1637 -1638 and the Confucian Thinker.
    Waters, detect by entering in keywords that multiple students had used in their reports through a Google search where his students received their erroneous information that was uncitable and possibly plagiarized. This article was a part of our resource reading about academic integrity and plagiarism. Just goes to show us that even though all this information is at our fingertips, all information is not reliable information if it cannot be properly cited.

    Reference:

    http://delivery.acm.org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1145/1290000/1284635/p15-waters.pdf?ip=74.116.157.210&id=1284635&acc=ACTIVE%20SERVICE&key=FC59C477B4C27A0A%2EFC59C477B4C27A0A%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35&CFID=

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