Plagiarism Issues

In Robert Harris' book, The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism (2001, Pyrczak Publishing,, he reminds teachers again and again to remember the student point of view when dealing with plagiarism. Here are some (not all) of his major points:

* Don't assume students know what plagiarism is.

* Teach plagiarism not from a punitive approach, but rather by emphasizing good writing and source management skills.

* Distinguish between writing mistakes and deliberate cheating.

* Talk about plagiarism in class, and not just as a hectoring admonishment warning students to avoid it.

* Make the writing process visible to students (and you) by collecting drafts, annotated bibliographies, and copies of sources used. Teach students how to manage sources.

* Design assignments to both mitigate against plagiarism and at the same time help students learn good scholarly habits.

* Know your school's plagiarism policies and procedures before you begin the course, so you know your options and rights as a teacher in advance (see UVA Honor).

* Remember due process and student confidentiality if you need to make a plagiarism charge.

* Put students at ease in office conferences to discuss plagiarism.

* Give students a chance to explain their paper. Harris also reminds us that we don't need to have a copy of the plagiarized source in hand. By talking to students about the piece, how they came about writing it and where they got the ideas in it, we can learn enough to determine whether it is likely that they cheated or merely made mistakes in handling their sources. And very often, notes Harris, in the course of answering these questions about their paper's content, when the student ishemming and hawing, perhaps a little bit nervous or defensive, a gently asked, "is there anything you want to tell me?" will lead students to admit they didn't do the work.

To help you talk about plagiarism with your students, his book offers a collection of cartoons that illustrate various points of views about plagiarism (two examples can be found on the Web site), which teachers are invited to use as handouts, for class discussion, or in teacher training workshops. Harris also includes several appendices with exercises to help with correct quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing; sample plagiarism statements and policies; a list of useful search engines, including databases; a list of term paper mills (which can often be searched by teachers); and useful Web links and articles.

All in all, Harris offers in this book a good starting place for developing your own wise response to plagiarism, giving you the tools you need to be proactive rather than reactive. Unlike the message from, the book emphasizes the role of good teaching and classroom planning, doesn't assume students are criminals, and offers a range of resources teachers can use to be better prepared.

A Short Bibliography of Texts on Plagiarism

Anderson, Judy. Plagiarism, Copyright violation & Other Thefts of Intellectual Property: An Annotated Bibliography with a Lengthy Introduction, McFarland, c1998.

Buranen, Lise, ed. Perspectives on Plagiarism & Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World, State University of New York, c 1999.

Burnett, Dane D. Academic Integrity Matters, National Association of Black Accountants, c1997.

Clabaugh, Gary. Preventing Plagiarism & Cheating: An Instructor's Guide, New Foundations, c1999.

Dannells, Michael. From Discipline to Development Rethinking Student Conduct in Higher Education, John Wiley & Sons, c1996.

Howard, Rebecca M. Standing in the Shadow of Giants: Plagiarists, Authors, Collaborators, c1999.

Lathrop, Ann. Student Cheating & Plagiarism In the Internet Era: A Wake-up call for Educators & Parents, Libraries Unlimited, c2000.

Pappas, Theodore. Plagiarism & the Culture War: The Writings of Martin Luther Kind, Jr. & other prominent Americans, Hallberg Pub., c1998.

Rozychi, Edward. The Plagiarism Book: A Student's Manual, New Foundations, c 1999.
Book Review & Bibliography by Nick Carbone, 2/19/02