Internet Plagiarism: A Teacher's Combat Guide
Bossier Parish Community college
Bossier Parish Community college
Have you ever sat down to grade a student's paper and wondered, 'Where in the world did this come from? I know Suzy Sleepalot did not write this paper.' Educators across the country are facing the dilemma of plagiarism more and more. To combat plagiarism, teachers need to know what it is, the strategies to detect it, and the ways to prevent it. What Is Plagiarism?
Plagiarism 'refers to the presentation or submission of the work of another, without citation or credits, as your own work' (University of Northern British Columbia, 1997, p. 1). A student may plagiarize deliberately or unintentionally. According to Hinchliffe (1998), some common types of plagiarism include * Submitting another student's paper with or without that student's knowledge. * Copying a paper or paraphrasing information from a text without proper documentation. * Purchasing and turning in a paper from a peer, research service, or term paper mill. * Downloading and submitting a paper from a 'free term paper' Web site (Hinchliffe, 1998). Paper sharing or copying is not something new, but it has become more widespread due to the easy access of computers and the Internet. Students are able to copy and paste vast amounts of text quickly with just a few clicks of the mouse. Students can also download, as well as purchase, free essays, reports, and term papers from several web sites. The fees can run from about $10 and up per page (Schevitz, 1999). It is estimated that there are at least 400 web sites that currently offer essays, with 20-30 of them being run professionally (Plagiarized.com, 2000). Some sites that teachers need to be aware of are * A1 Termpaper ( http://www.a1-termpaper.com/ )
* Absolutely Free Online Essays ( http://www.essays.terrashare.com/ ) * Evil House of Cheat ( http://www.cheathouse.com/ )
* Genius Papers ( http://www.genuispapers.com/ )
* Lazy Students ( http://www.lazystudents.com/papers/ ) * Research Assistance ( http://www.research-assistance.com/ ) * School Sucks ( http://www.schoolsucks.com/ )
For an extensive list of term paper mills, visit Coastal Carolina University's list of Internet Term Paper Sites at http://coastal.edu/library/mills2.htm . What Signs Should Teachers Look For?
To detect plagiarism, teachers should
* Check for unusual formatting or formatting that does not match the assignment requirements (Hinchliffe, 1998). In particular, Robert Harris (2000) suggested that you look for 'strange margins, skewed tables, mixed subheading styles' (p. 6). Also, check for peculiar use of upper/lower case and capitalization, for web site printout page numbers of dates and letters or words that have been whited out (Hinchliffe, 1998). * Notice mixed paragraph styles and various skill levels of writing. This is a sign that the copy-and-paste method of plagiarism was used (Harris, 2000). Also, notice jargon and advanced vocabulary usages (Hinchliffe, 1998). Asking, 'What do you mean by meridians?' may provide you with beneficial information (Harris, 2000). * Review the references used in the paper. Check the dates on the reference material, as well as the time frame of the events cited in the paper. Several online papers are old, so if the paper contains references older than 10 years or if it refers to Ronald Regan as President, it's a sign that the paper has been passed around for a while. Also, see if the references are available at your school. Many times, the books may be not only from another state but also from another country. * Refer to the original assignment and see if the paper is about the assigned topic and if it contains the information that was required. If it doesn't, Harris (2000) warns, 'It may have been borrowed at the last minute or downloaded' (p. 6). Also, if the paper contains extra information that was not required,...
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