Plagiarism: Finding the Original Source
Cornette Library & Faculty Development Committee Seminar, March 22, 2002
Plagiarism is not new, but technology now allows students to easily copy and paste text from a variety of electronic sources. Catching plagiarism is often a time-consuming task for faculty. The purpose of this guide is to acquaint you with ways in which you can find the original sources of your students' plagiarized works. If you have any questions, please call Cornette Library's Reference Desk at (806) 651-2215. We are willing to assist with your search.
- Presenting work, ideas or phrasing of another, in whole or in part, as one's own without giving credit and proper documentation of sources.
- Copying material directly from sources (including electronic media) except when the material is enclosed in quotation marks and the source is clearly identified. Failure to use quotation marks or appropriate methods of documentation shall be construed as attempted plagiarism.
- Paraphrasing too closely to the original, even when the source is identified.
- Claiming credit for work in any media (electronic, digital, artistic, etc.) where the student is not the original creator of said work.
Web Search Engines & Metasearch Tools
Students are more likely to plagiarize from an online source such as the Web because it is easy to copy and paste text. A good technique for finding plagiarized sources is to search for a phrase using Web search engines. Don't assume that the plagiarized source is not on the Web if you retrieve nothing from a single search engine. No search engine covers the entire Web. You might wish to begin with Dogpile or Mamma, tools for searching numerous Web search engines at once.
Online Book Reviews
The Web is an excellent source for full-text book reviews. Online book stores, like Amazon.com, provide publisher or reader reviews of books. Some are well written and lengthy. For reviews of more recent books in the humanities and social sciences, try H-Net Reviews, an online scholarly review journal. Bookspot links to magazines, newspapers, and other book review Web sites.
If you assign specific books to be reviewed by your students, start a collection of reviews from various sources. Check the online bookstores occasionally since reader reviews are added from time to time.
Term Paper Mills
Considering the number of term paper mills available on the Web, a thriving market for plagiarism exists. These sites provide essays, term papers, and other materials free or for a price. Some of the sites include warnings about copyright and plagiarism.
The papers offered by term paper mills vary in length, quality, and inclusion of references. Some of the pay sites provide summaries of papers that may offer clues as to whether they are the original source of your student's paper. Rather than searching numerous term paper mill sites, try a search in a Web search engine use the words "term paper" or "research paper" along with words that describe the student's topic.
Cornette Library now offers access to nearly 100 databases many of which include the full-text of books, encyclopedia articles, book reviews, and articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers. This of course makes cutting and pasting a simple task. Become familiar with the databases in your discipline and related disciplines. Also don't overlook general databases that cover many disciplines. One of the most popular of these is Academic Search Premier, which is included on many course guides created for Library Instruction sessions. Also if your students are doing annotated bibliographies, check the abstracts of articles included in the databases.
Print Reference Sources
While students are more likely to go for online sources, don't forget print sources. One of the most popular of these is CQ Researcher. These weekly reports cover social issues, foreign policy, economics, the environment, health and medical care, and many more topics that are controversial or frequently in the news. This publication appears on many of the library's course guides including those for COMM 1315 and English 1302, courses that many WTAMU students take. Subject encyclopedias and other basic information sources shelved in Reference are also possible beginning points for plagiarized work. Ask at the Reference Desk for suggestions on where to look.
Cornette Library Reference Sources
- CQ Researcher (also available electronically at Congressional Quarterly Electronic Library)
- Subject encyclopedias and other basic information sources in the Reference collection
Plagiarism Detection Software
Just as technology has made plagiarism easier for students, it has also allowed creation of software designed to detect plagiarism. Some companies offer free trials of their software. You may wish to try out some of the programs listed at the right. Listing here is not an endorsement of these products.
- Austin, M. Jill, and Linda D. Brown. "Internet Plagiarism: Developing Strategies to Curb Student Academic Dishonesty." The Internet and Higher Education 21 (1999): 21-33.
- Buranen, Lise, and Alice M. Roy, eds. Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. Albany, NY: State U of New York P, 1999.
- Harris, Robert A. The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism. Los Angeles: Pyrczak, 2001.
- Koch, Kathy. "Cheating in Schools." CQ Researcher 10 (2000): 745-768.
- Lathrop, Ann, and Kathleen Foss. Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era: A Wake-Up Call. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 2000.
- Young, Jeffrey R. "Anti-Plagiarism Experts Raise Questions about Services with Links to Sites Selling Papers." Chronicle of Higher Education 12 Mar. 2002. 14 Mar. 2002 <http://www.chronicle.com/article/Anti-Plagiarism-Experts-Raise/114964/>.