Preventing & Detecting Plagiarism (for Faculty)

foxtrot cartoon

“This way it’s an homage, not a ripoff.”
FoxTrot (c) 2003 Bill Amend. Used by permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All rights reserved.

Prevention Detection Resources

The best defense against plagiarism is: PREVENTION

  • Define plagiarism for students (using words, phrases, sentences, ideas, formulas, musical notation, etc., not their own, without noting the source; using material someone else created and signing their name to it). Include the policy from the GVSU Student Code.
  • Make clear the consequences of plagiarizing.
  • Divide large writing assignments into smaller sections which students hand in at different points in the semester.
  • Consider alternatives to the research paper: annotated bibliographies, a paper on the research process itself, a journal or essay on how the students changed as a result of their new knowledge.
  • Ask students to bring in a proposed list of references at the beginning of the project–this is a perfect opportunity to teach about appropriate search tools available through the Library (e.g., article databases, the Online Catalog, Web Sites by Subject), as well as emphasizing the importance of evaluating resources and citing sources.
  • Have students write a page with a quotation and a paraphrased paragraph, cited in the style preferred by your discipline. Explain that crediting others’ ideas is essential in the real world work setting as well as in academia and prevents expensive lawsuits, failing grades, or other dire consequences.
  • Ask a Writing Center consultant to talk to your class about paraphrasing, citing, etc.
  • Require a bibliography or reference list.
  • Ask students to hand in copies of their source material. Warning: This is expensive for the student. Never ask for the originals; accept only photocopies, printouts, or other copied formats.
  • If you suspect that a student has plagiarized, photocopy the paper, white out random words, and ask the student to fill in the blanks in front of you. If s/he can come up with the missing words or appropriate synonyms, it is likely that s/he wrote the original.
  • Contact the liaison library faculty member (see the Subject Resource pages) to your academic department for a consultation.
  • GVSU has integrated SafeAssign, a service within BlackBoard that helps prevent plagiarism.


  • GVSU has integrated SafeAssign, a service within BlackBoard that helps prevent plagiarism.
  • Use Altavista or another meta-search engine to find a phrase or sentence that seems suspicious. Type the words exactly as they are written, in quotes, and click on Search. Most of what students use is found on the web, and using a good, comprehensive search engine can typically find all that you need. Charity S. Peak, Reference Librarian, Regis University – Colorado Springs (used with permission)
  • Use the full text article databases such as Academic Search Premier (Ebsco): put a couple of unique phrases such as “genetically engineered food” and “Roundup Ready Soybean” in the search boxes and change the drop-down search field to “Text.” Click in the Limit Results to: “Full text” box. Most databases will find full text with these phrases, even if they are not exact quotes.
  • Students might cut and paste sections of full-text articles from online databases and then use MS Word’s autosummarize feature to reword the sections. They would then string these together with little bits of their own. Type in sections of the auto-summarized text and search the databases to locate the source. Apparently Word leaves enough unique vocabulary or phrasing to allow this. I think that one of the main points is that this is a ‘teaching moment.’ Yes, there is deliberate plagiarism but often students plagiarize when they don’t mean to. They need to learn what is valid and legitimate usage and what is not. Patti Brommelsiek, Reference Librarian, Bakersfield College Library (used with permission)


Copyright, Plagiarism & E-reserves I-tech (Integrating Technology into Teaching and Learning), Grand Valley State University.

How teachers can detect & reduce plagiarism
Web resources
Guides for students

Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices (Council of Writing Program Administrators,

A Faculty Guide to Cyber-Plagiarism University of Alberta Libraries

Why students plagiarize
Preventing plagiarism
Reporting plagiarism
Paper mills
Handouts for students
Recommended resources

Plagiarism and Cyberplagiarism Grace Hauenstein Library, Aquinas College

Student resources
Faculty resources:
General Issues
Specific Suggestions for Assignments
Good Guides for Teaching about Cyberplagiarism
Plagiarism Detection Sites
Cyberplagiarism Bibliography

Plagiarism Help for Faculty Ingram Library, State University of West Georgia

Information for your students about plagiarism
Information for you, the educator about how to detect it

Thinking about Plagiarism by Nick Carbone, New Media Consultant, Bedford/St. Martin’s

Academic Integrity in the Classroom, Resources for Instructors (University of Michigan)


Harris, Robert A. Plagiarism handbook: strategies for preventing, detecting, and dealing with plagiarism. Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2001. MAIN Stacks PN167 .H37 2001

Harris, Robert A. Using sources effectively: strengthening your writing and avoiding plagiarism. Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing, 2002. MAIN Stacks LB 2369 .H37 2002

Lathrop, Ann and Kathleen Foss. Student cheating and plagiarism in the Internet era: a wake-up call. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 2000. MAIN Stacks LB3609 .L28 2000


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