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Does plagiarism often rear its ugly head in your students’ work? In today’s post, we’re sharing a variety of ways that you can discourage plagiarism in your course. The bottom line? If students know what plagiarism is, understand its consequences, and know how to avoid it, they’ll be far less likely to engage in it. For this reason, you may find it helpful to remind your students about the problems associated with plagiarism and the ways they can be sure to avoid it.

In their book Keys for Writers with Assignment Guides, Seventh Edition, Ann Raimes and Susan K Miller-Cochran provide students with a number of steps they can take to avoid plagiarism in their own work. We’ve paraphrased them below. Discuss these strategies with your students!

Ways Writers Can Avoid Plagiarism

  • Start your work early; don’t wait until the last minute to begin writing. Time pressures can leave you more susceptible to cutting corners and inadvertently misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own.
  • As you conduct your research, write down all the information about your source required by the citation style you need to follow. You may also find it helpful to jot down your own summary of the information the source contains, as well as your own analysis of its contents. You might also make a photocopy or printout of the source to help you keep a record of what you’ve found and intend to use as a source.
  • Use a note-taking system that helps you keep track of the author’s ideas and your own. For example, Raimes and Miller-Cochran recommend placing quotation marks around anything you’ve copied word-for-word from your source, while writing down your own thoughts and analysis with a different-colored pen.
  • Give credit to authors for the ideas or information that you have either directly quoted or paraphrased from their work. Use proper citations, and indicate others’ thoughts and ideas by introducing them through such phrases as “Smith and Jones noted that…”.
  • Use quotation marks whenever and wherever you have used another author’s key terms or unique phrasing. As a guideline, Raimes and Miller-Cochran state that any one significant term, or any phrase three words or longer, taken from an outside source should be placed within quotation marks and cited in accordance with the style guide you are using. (For additional advice, read our previous post, Tips for Students: How to Quote Your Source Material.)
  • Remember that your online thesaurus is not your key to a plagiarism-free paper! Instead of just swapping out one word for another, offer your own ideas and analysis to show that you’ve used your critical-thinking skills to evaluate the the author’s points.
  • Never try to pass off another person’s paper—or even paragraphs—as your own. (Raimes and Miller-Cochran, 138-139, 141-142)


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Reference: Miller-Cochran, Susan K. and Anne Raimes. 2016. Keys for Writers with Assignment Guides, 7th ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Copyright © 2014 by Cengage Learning

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