Plagiarism Forum Takeaways
For one week in January 2015, four moderators (Tony Jasnowski, Amy Nejezchleb, Robin Bernstein, & Chrystal Dawson) and twelve faculty members contributed to the “Plagiarism, Citations, & Copyright” Online Faculty Forum held within BlackBoard. All in all, wonderful questions were raised and helpful feedback was given; therefore, it is important to share some of the key discussion points and resources with all of you.
As faculty read material from their students, they are quickly able to familiarize themselves with the student’s writing styles. And, faculty can also quickly develop a sixth sense for detecting plagiarism from their students. In fact, one faculty member Googled some of his student’s writing to find that much of the writing came from the students’ own employer’s personnel manual! Faculty members have also found students to have plagiarized from Wikipedia. So, are students just unaware of what they are doing is wrong, or, are they taking the shortcut to writing their papers?
As far as the plagiarism trends that are regularly practiced, students seem to live in a “copy & paste” world. They can easily find a useful resource on the web and will just copy and paste it into their paper, and more times than not, they forget to properly cite the source. The other trend that students have turned to is not necessarily “plagiarizing” but re-using their works from high school or a former class. They think that since they wrote the paper, they can just re-use it again and simply try to pass the paper along as a new creation.
Throughout this discussion, it was apparent that Turnitin (a plagiarism checker database) is one of the best solutions to this problem because it can be used as a teaching tool. With Turnitin, students can visually see how much of their paper is plagiarized and faculty can give their students a “chance.” Plus, this database has a BlackBoard component so the module can be utilized when students are already logged into their course.
Besides Turnitin, there were other free online resources mentioned. The first, which will assist with copyright, is the Copyright Center (http://libguides.bellevue.edu/copyright). Besides copyright resources, the Copyright Center also has a specific page dedicated to plagiarism, which include many links to plagiarism sites, some which were mentioned in the forum. The other helpful resources will assist with citing sources. The NoodleTools (http://www.noodletools.com/logon/signin) database is a citation generator tool where students input bibliographic information and the correct citation of that source can be added to the student’s paper. Another citation resource, the Citing Sources LibGuide, (http://libguides.bellevue.edu/CitingSources), provides helpful tips and examples for citing papers in both APA and MLA formats. One other useful resource worth mentioning is Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/), which provides some great guidance when it comes to writing a paper.
In addition to the online resources, there are services on campus available to students. Bellevue University has its own Writing Center, Tutor Center, and Library (all housed in the same building), in which all of our friendly staff from each of these service centers will assist students, providing them with the resources they need to write a successful paper.
Whatever the case, students will always need guidance in writing papers. Nevertheless, we can provide them with helpful resources to direct them away from plagiarizing and guide them in the right direction. As Senior Director, Library Services, Robin Bernstein says, “If you didn’t write it, cite it!” This is probably the best piece of advice to avoid plagiarism.