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While copying, poor paraphrasing, lack of citations, and other misuse of source material are serious academic integrity violations, improperly formatted citations can also be a form of plagiarism. While the rules vary with each citation style (MLA, APA, etc.), and minor irregularities such as punctuation and capitalization are at the instructor's discretion to correct and penalize for, all major citation styles have minimum requirements to avoid plagiarism.
All papers must include:
- Quotation marks: If material from an outside source is incorporated verbatim, this must be indicated with the proper use of quotation marks. Note that there is no minimum for number of words used to necessitate quotation marks; in the case of a coined term or other idiosyncratic use, even a single word might need to be quoted.
- In-text citations: Use, whether through paraphrase, summary, or quotation, of an outside source, and indication of which source is being used, must be given within the body of the paper, by a narrative acknowledgement, footnote, endnote, and/or parenthetical citation.
- Sufficient bibliographic information: Proper adherence to a citation manual is a matter of style, but any paper using outside sources must include a bibliography or footnotes with enough accurate bibliographic information (author, title, publication, date, etc.) to allow a source to be identified and located.
Detecting Plagiarized Papers
- Writing style, language, vocabulary, tone, grammar, etc. is above or below what the student usually produces. It doesn't sound like the student.
- Writing style is not internally consistent from one section to the next. There are abrupt shifts in tense, perspective, or language and vocabulary.
- Spelling or idioms used are not found in the students' native language; using English spellings or phrasing in an American paper and vice versa.
- Abrupt change of selected paper topic, or a paper which does not directly address the assignment prompt.
- Text includes odd or gibberish text, mixed fonts or colors, strange or poor layout, or other out-of-place items.
- References to graphs, charts, or accompanying material that isn't there.
- Quotes in the paper that do not have citations.
- Citations are to materials not accessible through Touro Libraries or all from another country.
- Citations in the bibliography or works cited cannot be verified.
- Citations in the paper are not included in the bibliography.
- Websites listed in citations are inactive.
- All citations are to materials that are older than five years.
- References are made to historical persons or events in the current sense, or there are other anachronisms.
- Student cannot identify citations or provide copies of the cited material.
- Student cannot summarize the main points of the paper or answer questions about specific sections of the paper.
- When provided with a page from their paper that has words or passages removed, student cannot fill in the blanks with the missing words or with reasonable synonyms.
Adapted from "Cheating 101: Detecting Plagiarized Papers" by Peggy Bates and Margaret Fain.
Investigating a Case of Suspected Plagiarism
- Run the assignment through Safe Assign. This automatic plagiarism detector is available to all instructors through BlackBoard. Its accuracy varies, but it can help point you to sources that may have been copied.
- Google suspect phrases. Use the search engine of your choice to look for out of place phrases or sentences. Try to use distinctive sections for best results. Use quotation marks around a phrase to find only exact matches, when appropriate. Note that results will not sources that may be print, password-protected, or otherwise not available freely online.
- Locate cited materials. Look up the sources that you suspect a student of misusing using QuickSearch or Google. It may be necessary to verify incomplete or erroneous citations. A librarian can assist with this step.
- Compare the paper to its sources. For sources available online, use crtl-F to search within the document for matches to the student paper. Check in-text citations against the original material; look for sections that may be copied or totally unrelated, which would indicate spurious citations.
- Follow up. If you have found evidence of plagiarism, you may wish to gather further information from the student. You might ask the student to:
- Give a summary of the paper or a particular section
- Produce a copy of sources you were unable to locate
- Describe the process of finding sources and or the progression of his/her understanding of the topic
- Reproduce a partial section of the paper
- File a report. If your investigation has turned up any indication of academic misconduct, an Academic Integrity Violation Report Form must be completed and filed with the appropriate department or program head.