Best Practices in Preventing Academic Dishonesty
This page last updated on: July 1, 2004
|In February 2002, some members of the AI taskforce enrolled in an online workshop on preventing plagiarism hosted by The Center for Intellectual Property in the Digital Environment at University of Maryland University College. This Best Practices in Preventing Academic Dishonesty document was produced by the workshop; it is the property of the Center. (An article on a related subject — with some useful tips — “Keeping Plagiarism at Bay in the Internet Age,” appeared in the February 2002 issue of the APA Monitor.) Finally, in spring 2003 the college’s seminar series Ethics Across and Beyond the Curriculum deals with issues that significantly overlap those alluded to under the Academic Integrity rubric.|
- I have a frank and direct discussion with all of my classes early in the semester in which I convey my attitudes about cheating. My students understand that I value honesty and integrity and hold cheating in low regard. (ER)
- I make it clear to my students when it is okay to work collaboratively and when they will be required to turn in individual work. (ER)
- Show students the different ways to incorporate borrowed information into their own essays. (LS)
- Use positive terms when discussing how to avoid plagiarism (e.g. “Give credit to those whose work you refer to”). (CE)
- Discuss Doris Kearns Goodwin’s (needs citation) situation and how good research practices can help avoid problems even among the well-intentioned and well-known
- Have students create a class policy for handling cheating/plagiarizing at the beginning of the course, discussing why plagiarizing is a problem and what constitutes plagiarizing. (Sprott)
- Discuss and define plagiarism and types of academic dishonesty within that class (i. e. define on what assignments collaboration may be used and what type of collaboration is helpful) (SS)
- I haven’t done this yet, but I just finished developing an exercise I’m thinking of using to teach students about what plagiarism is and isn’t. I have quoted paragraphs on a topic from three different sources, then have six paragraphs on the topic that a student might write. One of them successfully avoids plagiarism; the other five involve plagiarism of different levels, from the obvious no-no of direct quotes without attribution to the less-obvious light paraphrase with insufficient attribution. I’m considering having students break into groups (after my brief introduction to the topic) and analyze the examples, deciding which one(s) they think are plagiarized and which are not, then discussing my answers and why I give them. (CR)
- Show specific examples of plagiarism using appropriate literature. Have students discuss when a paraphrase crosses the line.
- Students must understand what academic dishonesty is, and what’s in it for them if they fight it. A detailed and clearly defined document/examples help them understand it. However, the document must also allow room for the instructors to pursue cases beyond those perimeters if students become especially “creative” in their cheating. (LG)
- Instructors who stress academic honesty in their classroom from the very first day. Typically, on their syllabus, will be the institutional definition of academic dishonesty, the institutions penalty for committing academic dishonesty and then the instructors penalty for any cheating, plagiarism, etc., as it effects the grade and completion of the course. (PC)
- A syllabus that clearly lays out goals and expectations ahead of time. (MS)
- Spending class time on their own or with the librarian discussing citation formats, “works cited” lists, parenthetical attribution in the paper and practicing these skills, so that the class knows what plagiarism is and how it can be avoided. Remember, most plagiarism is inadvertent. (MS)
- I use an assortment of assignments, including weekly journals, all designed to give me a sense of student voice. (ER)
- Have students spend 5 to 10 minutes before or following a class or online discussion writing their reactions to the discussion or topic. (CE)
- Instructors who have retrieve a writing sample from their students. Even a brief in-class writing assignment can effectively give an instructor a pretty good idea of a students writing style and then can be used in comparison when later assignments are suspected of not being the student’s own work. (PC)
- Keep e-mailed progressive assignments together in a folder to review as the paper progresses. (SS)
- Require students to submit an annotated bibliography before a paper is due
- Require an annotated bibliography, in which students explain why they selected a particular source for their project — what information or perspective they were able to glean from it.
- Direct students to complete a self-study plagiarism tutorial. Ask students to keep a research log of search tools and searches
- Instructors who assign research projects require students to follow the research process and submit at different intervals for review, the components of the process: thesis statement; types of sources required (primary, secondary, professional journals) working bibliography, bib cards, outline, etc. (PC)
- Use of weekly journals or diaries allows instructors to know their students’ writing practices and keeps them in touch with what is going on with the student in the course. (MS)
- Structure syllabus assignments to incrementally complete a finished project in week-by- week assignments. For example, research paper assignments begin with topic title, reference list, short summary of each reference, paper outline, introduction, 3 main points, summary. (WG)
- Consider student research projects as process, not product, with topic development exercises, annotated bibliographies, research strategies, handed in and responded to throughout the course.
- Require “methodology” section, either within the paper or as an appendix, in which students describe how they did the research for the paper, including databases search and how (what search statements), websites consulted, people interviewed, etc. Faculties routinely include a
methodology section when they write their own research papers. While students don’t general do “original” research, it is still a good idea to instill in them the notion that the method is part of the final product.
- In my statistics classes I have students collect their own data based on a pre-approved question that they utilize throughout the semester for various graded assignments, tests and projects. No two students are allowed to use the same question. (ER, Math)
- I ask questions which require a written response rather than a process driven response (I teach math). Directions such as “clearly explain in your own words” or “outline the steps you would use to solve the following problem” allow for easy comparison of work since no two students should be
describing a process in exactly the same way. (ER, Math)
- For a literature class, I have them find commonalties between our recent readings. So in essence, they are writing a comparison essay about oddly matched pieces of literature. Very few “canned papers” are set up this way using our readings. (LS)
- As a composition Instructor, I offer assignments early on in the quarter. I encourage students to pursue research topics that they are interested in; then I guide them through the research. Students report back in writing or orally on every step of their research project. I ask them to self review the roughs and final products of all essays. (LS)
- Begin projects with essays requiring no research, which are based on opinion, first-hand experience, etc. Follow with an assignment to find materials to either back up or challenge their original statements, and have students turn their essays into researched papers. (CE)
- Explain to students the purpose of each assignment and why it is important that they learn the concepts/process, etc., so that students are invested in the learning process. The other side to this, of course, is that if students tell you that an assignment isn’t meaningful to them, you need to consider why, and perhaps adjust the assignment. (Sprott)
- Require short Meta essays, preferably in class, describing the research and writing process the student undertook for the essay/assignment.
- Have writing assignments that are based on activities, events, or examples that occurred in class, so that they are less likely to find papers online that fit. (CR)
- One type of assignment I have done is to have students “create” around the research. For example: students had to find social policies that would be a foundation for a full-service school. The first half of the grade was finding the policies and presenting on the policies. The last part of the
project was to create a full-service school using those policies as the basis of what they would include. But, the organization had to be complete
with an organizational chart, a full description of services, etc. (Karyl)
- Develop a classroom exerciseson plagiarism issues stemming from “real world” scenarios.
- Last week we discussed in my library credit course the relationship between plagiarism and credibility in the context of the heavily plagiarized document released by the British Intelligence earlier this month and used by Colin Powell in his presentation to the Security Council. Here is a discussion about whether the world should go to war in Iraq, and the argumentation for war was heavily based on a document which, had it been handed in our school, would have earned the “author” a suspension or worse.
- Other exercises I have done include reading a NYT op-ed piece by the victim of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s plagiarism, or
- Stephen Ambrose’s plagiarism. The NYT printed a sidebar about Ambrose showing his passages side by side with the source he copied it from. After a class discussion, students played “editor” and went back and properly cited the passages in MLA and APA styles.
- In another exercise, two semester’s ago, a freshman class checked out a couple citations I had examined in advance from “Fast Food Nation,” which they had all read as the freshman text over the summer. One of the citations was bad– we examined the NYT article the author said the quote/statistic had come from and it wasn’t there. The kids were absolutely furious! They felt betrayed, didn’t know if they could trust anything the book said, wanted to know if they could get their money back for the book, etc. Afterwards, I asked them to think about how angry they were when the cite didn’t prove accurate, and understand how other people would react if they plagiarized or gave bad cites.
- Creative assignments requiring personal thought, analysis and expression. I once spent a half hour trying to convince a desperate student that there really wasn’t a resource that described a classic philosophy of education and compared/contrasted it with her personal philosophy and experience of
- Arrange study groups so that students will help one another. Have them work on individual papers but on related topics so that they can talk about the sources productively. They should report to the whole class two or three times over the course of the semester.
- Use the “One-Minute-Paper” format to encourage students to bring their research problems to the instructor and the class for discussion. Let it
be anonymous so that no one need be embarrassed by supposedly “stupid” questions.
- Assign each student an anonymous “research assistant” who reviews their topic reference lists and summaries to determine relevancy to topic, and/or, recommend one or two additional references. (In an on-line format, they can respond to the reference conference with their findings.) (WG)
- I also have the students post their work in a discussion area where they classmates can read their work and comment upon it. On our system, they can post to me and to fellow students at the same time. The system protects their grade from view by their classmates. (BF)
- I regularly email my students with suggestions that I think will make their paper better. I may suggest questions, sources, other points of view, etc. This seems to help them realize the need to do their own work. (BF)
- Use formative assessment techniques. For an overview of formative assessment, see Boston, Carol (2002). The concept of formative assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(9). Available online: http://ericae.net/pare/getvn.asp?v=8&n=9. (CE)
- Be sure that assignments and your grading are fair and reasonable, and work hard to develop a good relationship with your students. (Sprott)
- Include a final exam question on the process of the research. (SS)
- In final examinations, focus less on data (information) than on application by using more short (one paragraph) essay questions. (WG)
- In face-to-face courses arrange seats in spiraling circle from center of room with all seats faced outward; instructor circulates through room throughout examination. (WG)
- Use 3-5 testing sheets arranging the same questions in varying order (especially effective in mathematics exams). (WG)
- Do a “spot check” (by randomly selecting one or two students) of each written assignment. Students who are being spot-checked, or audited, must turn in drafts and notes from reading.
- When appropriate, allow notes for all students during exams, instead of requiring needless memorization.
- Randomize questions from a large database for multiple choice tests/examinations.
- Create random seating for students in examinations, and enforce it!
- Use open-book open-note tests, where students are asked to apply concepts to specific examples and cases. (I especially like group tests, which often are better learning experiences than other things I do in class!) (CR)
- Take away the temptation: by providing active faculty supervision during tests, adhering to standard documentation practices (and checking those documents), providing a few different versions of each test, have very strictly monitored “make-up” test opportunities and make sure students are aware of the measures being taken will limit opportunity. (LG)
- Faculty training in what the school determines to be academic dishonesty. One of the big problems I’ve seen is that all the faculty are not deeming the same things as academic dishonesty–students can’t be clear if we’re not presenting the same rules everywhere. (LG)
- Administration Action: clear policies that clarify the process for pursuing cases, as well as adapting policies that encourage teachers to avoid pursuing cases inadvertently (i.e. reviews too heavily weighted to student critiques, unrealistic evidence requirements in cases, not considering conditions in student success rates, not allowing faculty enough time during their work schedule to review papers and tests for academic dishonesty)
- Instructors who actually query suspected students about their paper, wording, etc. Usually it doesn’t take too long for both parties to figure out if cheating occurred. (PC)
- Instructors who actively pursue suspected plagiarists, cheaters. I always remind my instructors that the proof of plagiarism is on them however, they can require their students to submit for review all the resources identified on the working bibliography and the work cited prior to any grade being given. It is always amazing to me how often the guilty students either dont supply the resources or confess that the work is plagiarized, etc. At times the instructor may find what I would call “involuntary plagiarism” not clear on what needs to be documented and then the instructor has a perfect teaching moment.(PC)
- Once you have sufficiently educated the students about it, have a no tolerance policy for plagiarism. Make sure the dean and the higher ups support your policy.