Make sure your students understand what constitutes plagiarism in your assignment, subject or course
The following activity has proven to be a successful way to introduce a discussion on plagiarism.
- Introduce the topic of plagiarism and establish a common understanding of plagiarism
- Add to this general definition of plagiarism by including what constitutes plagiarism in your specific subject area, at the student’s level of study and for any particular assessments with special requirements
- Be very clear about whether group work (collaboration) is allowed and how this may become unauthorised copying (collusion).
Raising your students’ awareness of plagiarism: discussion activity
- Brainstorming: ask students individually to jot down what they consider to be plagiarism in the context of academic study
- Sharing: get students to work in small groups of 3 or 4 to share and discuss their ideas
- Collecting ideas: Go around the groups asking them for their ideas. Write these so that all can see
- Introducing terminology: Write some key words connected with ‘academic cheating’ and copying which may not have been mentioned already for example:
- Discuss this terminology, ensuring that students get a chance to think about their own understanding of each term
- Definition: Students work in small groups with their ideas and the terminology to write a definition of plagiarism
- Sharing: Each group writes their definition so that the whole group can see it. These definitions can later be collated by the tutor and made available to the students.
Turning features into checklist questions:
- Ask students in small groups to return to the original class list of ‘academic cheating’ with the purpose of producing a checklist of questions to ask themselves before handing in a piece of written work. For example, ‘Have I used anyone else’s ideas?’ ‘Have I referenced properly?’ ‘Have I expressed my own opinion?’ ‘Have I backed up my opinions with references to the literature?’
- Highlight the University of Kent’s definition of plagiarism: At the end of
the session it is useful to give students the ‘official’ definition of plagiarism for them to compare with their own (see Academic Policies).
- Discussion: Give students an opportunity to talk about the ways in which the University of Kent tries to minimise opportunities for plagiarism and how proven cases of plagiarism are treated. Case studies, real or invented, could be used to stimulate discussion.
Content adapted from a range of sources (see Useful References).