There are several steps you can take as a GSI to minimize the chances of plagiarism among your students.
- Announce the University’s plagiarism policy in your section syllabus and repeat it when you introduce students to a formal paper assignment. A concise statement is on the Library’s page Cite Sources under the heading “What Is Plagiarism?”
- Have students submit their papers in bCourses and do a Turnitin originality check before they turn in their final draft that you will read and grade. The Turnitin tool can help them double-check whether they have inadvertently incorporated the ideas of other writers without proper attribution. Announce that you will also use the Originality Check on the final draft of their papers. See Turnitin Instructors Getting Started on the Educational Technology Services’ website for detailed information.
- Show your students what good writing in your discipline looks like. Discuss with them features such as mandatory or standard sections of a paper, what each section is supposed to accomplish within the paper, and ways a good paper uses and credits other writers’ material.
- Explain to students that citation of sources allows a widely dispersed academic community to conduct a professional conversation concisely and efficiently, and that being able to use citations effectively is an advantage in a number of professional settings. For an example of a complete strategy, see the Teaching Effectiveness Award essay Ethical Engagement: Practical Solutions for Addressing Plagiarism in the Writing Classroom by Catherine Cronquist-Browning.
- Show students how to cite sources correctly in your field and give them a small practice assignment or in-class activity using the citation guide. Have them correct each others’ citation formatting using the guide; you can even make a competitive in-class team game of it if this helps motivate students to improve accuracy.
- For a major writing assignment, break the process into stages and give the students some kind of feedback — or at least check off their progress — at each stage. For example, require them to give you their topic in Week 3, a narrower question and framework for answering the question in Week 5, a list of sources they’re using in Week 6, a two-page beginning draft in Week 7. In addition, some instructors have students turn in their final draft in hard copy along with their previous drafts and notes.
- Don’t permit last-minute changes in topic; such changes can result from a student giving up on their original project and replacing it with plagiarized material. Announce this policy early in the process. Announce further that if someone feels their initial topic isn’t working out well they will have to consult with you before changing to a different topic.
- As the students begin to take notes from other sources, dedicate some classroom time to differentiating quotation, paraphrase, and summary. Talk about when their work calls for each of these and when it doesn’t. Talk about how to address other people’s ideas and words fairly and usefully within their own writing — that is, how a student can bring someone else’s idea into their own discussion of a topic without either appropriating that idea unfairly or abdicating their own thinking in favor of the source writer’s. An article on paraphrasing and an exercise on the art of paraphrasing appear on the next two pages.