How can educational institutions curb plagiarism?
The internet and instantaneous access to pretty much everything is an ever-growing reality that reaches new peaks day by day. With such a trend, it was only logical for plagiarism to increase as well because it is the theft of someone else’s work which is claimed to be your own and this work is easier than ever to access. Technological improvements have also improved the ability to detect plagiarism which is a positive development because by using that ability and other complementary methods educational institutions can keep fighting the good fight against plagiarism. There are many possible ways to eliminate plagiarism on an institutional level and the few discussed here can give us a solid start.
Communicate with your students
Most students, especially those that have just left high school, are unaware of what plagiarism is, what its types are, why it is wrong, what are the academic conduct policies, what are the consequences, what their teachers are looking for in essays etc. They should have a clear understanding of all those things and the educational institution can help to bridge that knowledge gap. Fundamental information and concepts regarding plagiarism should be provided to students even before they step foot on campus or register for orientation. Then at a later stage when the students attend orientation or their first-class details can be discussed, expectations can be made clear and consequences even clearer. The repercussions for committing plagiarism are very serious and students should be fully aware of every aspect otherwise it would be unfair.
Providing information is crucial, but only useful when that information can be transformed into ability and skill as well. Academic conduct training such as referencing techniques, citation skills, identifying plagiarism, reporting plagiarism and others can be done through resource material, workshops, and refreshal sessions that develop intellectual integrity. For instance, samples of what is plagiarised content and what is not or differentiation between proper and improper citation through written exercises before students start their official classes can be useful training tools.
Use creative assignments
Unique, original and creative approaches to phrasing and structuring assignments will naturally lead to submissions of the same nature. An essay prompt that is entirely new would make it difficult for someone to find material online that they can claim under their own name or ask former students of a class for sample paper they wrote.
Use tiered assessments
The final essay and report should not be the only thing that gets marked for the grade assigned to that assignment. If the final essay is worth 30% of the grade for a class then a portion of that percentage should be based on a rough draft or an intermediary presentation on the outline of the essay that the student will use for the final product. This way teachers can get a better idea of the process that goes into the final submission as well as the level of original effort that has gone into it. This also establishes an incentive to record the journey towards the final document and allows the teacher to hold the student accountable for how they developed their writing.
Do not come off as the enemy/Be on the student’s side
Most often plagiarism happens accidentally, unintentionally or due to improper knowledge. In such cases the students must be guided as to how to avoid plagiarism instead of being scared about what may happen to their academic life. Being aware of the consequences and using that to make informed decisions is different to being fearful of saying anything to anyone because of what could happen. Fear can stop a new student from reaching out to their professor or other academic staff regarding issues they may be behaving in writing their assignments.
Always use plagiarism checking software.
Electronic submissions that are scanned through plagiarism checking software that is effective, comprehensive, secure in terms of data protection is an essential component of eliminating plagiarism in academic institutions. If a professor starts checking every paper for plagiarism manually, they would never be able to grade everything. Detailed summary reports make life easier for staff members and through a Bulk Comparison feature they scan submissions against each other for the same assignment. Meaning that they would also be detected if students cheated from each other in addition to instances of online plagiarism.
Not only that, Plagiarism Checker X also offers an online plagiarism feature that allows the faculty to scan the content through web (16+ Billion) web pages and returns a highlighted report along with the overall text similarity, where the plagiarism phrases can be easily detected.
The methods to combat plagiarism must evolve with time because the nature of plagiarism changes as well, however, by forming a foundation to eliminate cases of academic dishonesty we move a step closer to our goals.