What is Plagiarism?
We want students’ work to represent their own thoughts and hard work. But access to limitless written material makes documenting sources more complicated, making it harder to distinguish between an original thought and the work of someone else. The definition of plagiarism is straightforward: Using someone else’s language, ideas, or other original material without acknowledging the source.
What can you do to reduce the chances of plagiarism?
What can you do to reduce the chances of plagiarism?
Student plagiarism seems to fall into one of two categories: students who, for whatever reason, panic about the assignment and purposely lift words, phrases, ideas, etc. from another source (including another student) and pass that work off as their own original work. These students
might have poor time management, fear getting a bad grade, and/or do not take cheating seriously. Another example is students who think that if they have a lot of citations and use many sources, the instructor will not think that they contributed any original thought in the
assignment. When in most cases it is just the opposite: using several different sources and synthesizes different ideas and data indicates a more sophisticated understanding of the material.
The other category is students who do not intentionally use material from another source, but have lost track of their sources, do know when to cite sources, and/or do not know how to cite sources properly. Here, it is helpful for instructors to remind students that they must cite the source for every idea or fact that is not their own. This includes direct quotes and paraphrasing. Instructors can also discuss with students the importance of keeping track of their sources and their expectations in terms of citation format.
For more information about Plagiarism and what you can do to minimize the likelihood of plagiarism, check out the Council of Writing program administrators website at: https://wpacouncil.org/positions/WPAplagiarism.pdf
What is Turnitin.com and how do I use it in my class?
Turnitin will then run the paper through their database of papers, and conduct a public internet search to identify any unoriginal material in the student’s paper. In the Questrom Tools Assignment, instructors can see if papers have been identified as having a low originality score (in the image below, green indicates a high originality score, and red is a low originality score).
If the instructor has concerns about a paper, they can simply click on the red, yellow, or green badge and the written assignment appears with the questionable material highlighted, and the source of that material, according to Turnitin’s search. At this point, it is up to the instructor to determine whether the student has plagiarized. For example, did the student cite the sources identified by Turnitin? In the below example, the text highlighted in red is the text from the case assigned and class notes, so although this student has an originality score of 44% (meaning 44% of the paper is identified as coming from another source), the material used is from class and therefore appropriately used in this submission.
For help with Turnitin, please contact Questrom ITS at QuestromHelp@bu.edu.
What is academic misconduct?
Often when asked about academic misconduct, instructors think about cheating on an exam (looking at a neighbor’s exam, using an unauthorized cheat sheet, having the answers written on the label of their bottle of water) and plagiarism. Section three of the Academic Conduct Code addresses a wide variety of conduct from stealing exams, to falsifying or forging official documents, and violating the rules or policies of a host school or business when in a professional assignment.
I‘m not sure how to communicate to my students about cheating. I have a statement on my syllabus that cheating is a violation of the Conduct Code, but are there other ways to talk with them without seeming like I don’t trust them?
Having a statement on your syllabus is a great start, but unfortunately, we know that students barely read the syllabus no matter how much effort we put into making it a masterpiece! Repeating the statement on the cover sheet of an exam is also a logical place for a reminder, but again, students often blow past it in their haste to start the exam.
Research has shown that reminding students of their honor and integrity goes a long way in deterring cheating. Moreover, discussing the impact of academic dishonesty not only on their career at Questrom, but also on the integrity of the school, can remind students of the larger picture: your cheating hurts you, and your classmate’s cheating hurts you. This doesn’t have to be a long, depressing conversation. Perhaps, before you hand out your next exam, you could remind students that you have both worked hard to make the course successful (or work through complicated concepts, or think through tough problems, etc.). You should be proud of yourselves. Don’t forget that hard work and pride when you take the exam. Taking an exam is a great opportunity to live your values and the values at Questrom.
Similarly, when you assign an out of class assignment, think about the temptation points. If you ask the students to conduct 150 surveys, and they only get 95 back, they may be tempted to fake the data. When you discuss that assignment in class, talk about this temptation. Discuss why inaccurate data undermines the quality of their analysis. Discuss options if they can’t get enough surveys completed. Remind the students with another conversation about temptation points a few days before the deadline, when they are most likely to cheat.
Finally, listen to your students talking to each other. You can get your best information about their concerns, worries, frustrations, and temptations in the moments before class starts and after you finish. If you mingle with students and overhear these conversations, ask them about their concerns. Usually, students are afraid to ask for help, or think that they are the only students with this concern. Sharing the concerns with the class (without attributing the concerns to a specific student, of course) will open the communication up.
I try to deter cheating as much as possible when I administer exams. I make two different versions of the exam and try to seat students every other seat in the room. Are there other things I should be doing?
Making two different versions and spacing between students are two great and easy techniques to deter cheating during exams. These techniques can be used in both large and small classes. Even better is to make more than two different versions, say three or four, and have the Copy Center copy them on different colors of paper. When you distribute the exams in class, alternate colors and rows. For example, students in row 1 get alternating white and blue exams, and in row 2, students get pink and green exams alternately, and so on.
The visual impact of multiple, different colored exams serves a few different purposes: it is an obvious reminder to students that the exams are different so they shouldn’t even try to look on another’s test, the instructor can easily see whether students sitting next to each other or immediately in front or back of each other have the same version of the exam and can make adjustments accordingly, and it provides assurances to students that the exam is tightly controlled.
You can find more ideas in the Exam Protocol Suggestions forum or in the Exam Protocol Best Practices folder in Resources. These suggestions were compiled by several faculty who teach a wide range of courses, small and large. The ideas on the Exam Protocol forum are tips and techniques that faculty have used over the years to deter cheating during exams. This list is by no means exhaustive and all faculty are encourage to add their best practices and ideas so we can learn more.
Exam Protocols to Reduce Cheating
When giving an exam, what can you do to reduce the likelihood of cheating? Lots, it turns out. And it’s easy. Link to hire a proctor: https://questromworld.bu.edu/proctor/faculty-form
I suspect a student has cheated, now what do I do?
It happened: a student submitted their homework problem set using the identical, and incorrect, formulas as their friend they sit next to in class. You suspect the two students improperly collaborated on the home work despite your clear rules that this was an independent assignment. Now what?
How do I report a specific case of academic misconduct?
You had a suspicion, met with the student, and now believe that they engaged in academic misconduct. It is easy to report your belief to the UDC or Grad Center. When you complete the Academic Misconduct Instructor Report Form found here: https://questromworld.bu.edu/faculty/academic-misconduct/. The report is sent directly to the UDC. You will be contacted by someone from the UDC shortly after you submit the report.