When the talk goes about plagiarism, the most comprehensive survey results that come to mind are that of The International Center for Academic Integrity. The research had been conducted throughout 2002-2015 and 24 US high schools with more than 70,000 students participated in it. The results were shocking, as 95% of the surveyed students admitted to cheating on a test and essay, or committing plagiarism.
I. What is Plagiarism
Definition of Plagiarism
The primary thing to understand is that plagiarism is an offense treated as an extremely serious issue in the academic environment that inevitably leads to severe consequences for a student who decides to act in this way. It can be compared to the act of stealing since specific texts or ideas developed by someone else are as valuable as their money or material assets and, therefore, must be protected. Basically, this dishonest activity can be defined in the following way:
The most common reasons that lead to plagiarism include:
What Can Be Plagiarized?
There are multiple objects prone to being plagiarized as they can be easily presented as someone’s own work while they are not:
Things That Can’t Be Copyrighted
Instances of “common knowledge” inclusion into someone’s work are not the only example of utilizing the information that cannot be copyrighted. There are many other possible things:
Is Plagiarism A Crime? Is Plagiarism Illegal?
It is the nature of the issue that determines the severity of the case and whether any criminal actions are possible. Academic plagiarism is not illegal while copyright infringement is. However, in any case, any type of plagiarism is a severe violation of ethic codes that leads to various consequences.
Several cases related to plagiarism, in fact, ended up in court since they involved breaches of contract and even receiving multiple grants for the same research proposal. However, these cases are rather rare. Instances of copyright infringement, which is definitely a crime, are more common reasons for lawsuits related to plagiarism issues.
Educational institutions do not treat plagiarism as the crime so that cheating students could not find themselves in a court. Though it does not mean that there is nothing to be afraid of. Violation of the honor code will inevitably affect the student’s records in the following ways:
Some countries though, for instance, the United Kingdom, still consider the possibility of contract cheating’s criminalization so that students who hire someone to complete academic assignments, might be expelled, blacklisted, and receive a criminal record.
All these unpleasant outcomes can be easily avoided if the plagiarism prevention guide is carefully reviewed and followed precisely while writing academic tasks.
There are multiple myths associated with the proper use of copyright and related plagiarism issues. Some of the myths may be rather dangerous as many people believe in them.
II. Types of Plagiarism
10 Plagiarism Types Common Among Students
Many students get confused by multiple embodiments of the plagiarism issue as they may consider only copying and pasting someone’s text as the only valid option to avoid. However, there are many things to consider if one wants excellent records of academic achievements.
- Complete plagiarism or submitting a written text that belongs to another student
This is the most obvious type of academic cheating that is often conducted by students who almost missed the deadline. They ask a peer for help, borrow a completed assignment, and then use it as if it was their own original work. It is better to miss the submission and just receive zero rather than face accusations in plagiarism and fail the friend as well.
- Copying and pasting
Taking the part of the text from the useful source and putting it into the paper verbatim, or word by word, without the inclusion of quotation marks and citations, is considered to be a wrong and unethical behavior. The majority of written tasks require critical thinking, analysis, and demonstration of writing skills as opposed to the ability to find relevant facts and simply copying them into text.
- Patchwriting or mosaic plagiarism
Obviously, copying the content of one source, even if it matches the requirements and context precisely, is severe plagiarism and the majority of students do realize it. It is very easy to detect as well. Thus, some students may have a temptation to copy phrases from a variety of related sources so that the text will appear different. In fact, this is a bad idea as this way of completing a writing task is a compilation rather than original writing and leads to the same consequences as copying text from one source. What is more, it is also easy to detect and definitely not worth all efforts.
This type should not be confused with the appropriate way of working with sources that imply reading the source, understanding the idea, expressing it with your own words, and including the citation to the original source. Paraphrasing plagiarism occurs when a student takes the necessary part from the book or article, slightly changes the wording and pretends it is his or her original writing. However, it is not since the student just stole the idea and structure of the argument without mentioning the initial author.
- Fake referencing
It occurs when a good claim is supported by evidence that could not be found in the source the in-text citations refer to. Some students may think that if the article’s name contains the keyword from the claim, the teacher will not open the original source to cross-check the information, and there is no need to check whether the source indeed possesses the information used in the paper as evidence. This is a wrong perception as providing inaccurate information is also a type of plagiarism.
- Incorrect citing
Though it may appear to be a formatting issue, at first sight, it is still related to plagiarism. One of the common mistakes includes inappropriate use of quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing of the source since a huge paragraph is taken from the source, even if put in the quotation marks and cited, is inappropriate in the majority of cases as implies the absence of critical analysis. Another problem is locating in-text references at the end of the paragraph instead of the end of the sentence with evidence. Such a structure implies the entire paragraph was taken from the source.
- Absence of in-text references
Even if all sources are listed on the references page, the absence of in-text parenthetical citations or footnotes means that none of those sources were used. That is why it is crucial to include citations to all facts or ideas that are not common knowledge and not the original thoughts of the student. Failure to do so will inevitably result in plagiarism accusations.
- Referring to a fabricated non-existent source
This is one of the most severe issues in the academic environment as a student who includes the references to the invented and non-existent source to pretend that his or her claims are supported deceive the audience and provide invalid results. The analysis must be driven by data instead of fitting the data to the desired analysis. Finally, it is just unethical to give your reader a source that never existed.
- Including supportive media materials without citations
While the text may be perfectly structured and cited where needed, adding the pictures, diagrams, or other media files to strengthen the completed task without acknowledging the source will still result in the failure due to plagiarism. Illustrations are intellectual property just like the text in sources. Thus, all graphical addons must have proper labels, captions, and citations in accordance with the requested formatting style.
It is vital to keep the balance and not to be afraid of all those “absences of citations equals to plagiarism” claims as it may lead to the opposite issue: some students become so afraid of being accused of academic dishonesty that they start to cite literally every sentence in a paper, even in conclusion. As a result, the paper appears to be properly structured, researched, and cited one but it is still a compilation of other people’s ideas and different facts. This is a critical issue because students must demonstrate their own interpretation and analysis of gathered evidence and actually defend their claims. Quotes and citations should not speak for themselves, thus, the absence of the author’s voice in the paper also makes it failing one.
Other Types of Plagiarism
Types of Plagiarism Ordered on The Severity
Intentional vs Accidental Plagiarism
Despite the fact that consequences for both types of plagiarism are severe, there are considerable differences between them that might be taken into account by teachers.
The Difference Among Paraphrasing, Quoting and Summarizing
These techniques are essential elements of academic writing that require research and the use of supporting evidence. A good paper usually utilizes all of them to ensure the effectiveness and appropriateness of utilizing outside sources. All of these writing techniques require adding in-text citations in accordance with the requested format, whether it is MLA, APA, Chicago, or any other one.
Common Citation Mistakes That Result in Plagiarism
Paying more attention to citation is beneficial for the student’s academic success. Avoiding these mistakes will help anyone to prevent the occurrence of plagiarism issues in their papers:
III. How To Detect Plagiarism
How To Find Plagiarism
Basically, there are two major ways one can follow to check both the originality of freshly written text or whether one’s own original work was plagiarized and copied by someone else.
- Rely on Google Search as the first step
While it may appear rather inconvenient, plagiarized texts of non-blogging nature can be detected via simple requests to this huge and properly indexed database of websites and various documents. Instead of searching the occurrence of the checked work’s title only, it is much better to choose a short but peculiar and representative phrase that is unlikely to be written word by word by another person and search for any matches. There is a specific term for such a phrase: statistically improbable phrase (SIP).
One should include this SIP into the search request with and without quotation marks to ensure the broad range of sites is covered. In case Google Search returns specific matches, all links should be closely examined to reveal the plagiarism issue. One must remember that social networks are not included in the scope of indexed content, thus, there are limitations. Google search should be the first, but not the last step in plagiarism prevention.
- Utilize specific software to achieve the desired result
Depending on the nature of content to be checked, various tools might be helpful. For instance, photographers and copywriters have absolutely different requirements and the tool that is relevant for one is useless for the other’s purposes.
Text content owners and writers who want to check the originality of their works can use plagiarism detection tools such as Grammarly, Copyscape, iThenticate, or others. The principle of their functioning is rather similar and adopting this methodology is much more effective than simple search using SIPs or keywords.
Plagiarism checking software not only check the occurrence of phrases and sentences using multiple searching engines, but also apply complex algorithms to compare larger portions of texts and filter specific symbols that are easy to change, for instance whether letter “i” in the text is from Latin alphabet or substituted by the Cyrillic letter to fool search engines.
Noteworthy, bloggers, photographers, musicians, and other people who produce original content of specific types, not necessarily text-based ones, can also enjoy the possibilities of software designed to meet their needs, even despite the fact that it is harder to detect plagiarism in these spheres than for a writer.
What is Turnitin and how it works?
Turnitin is the global online service that is dedicated to revealing plagiarism specifically in the academic works. It contributes to academic integrity all over the globe including the United States, Latin America, Europe, the United Kingdom, South Asia, Korea, and Australia.
Turnitin online service is used not only for plagiarism and inappropriate citing prevention but also for giving feedback by instructors and peers since it is already integrated into multiple online dashboards and classrooms.
When a student submits his or her paper through this tool, the text is compared to a huge database of books, articles, websites, and, most important, other students’ works that were previously submitted. The service reached the milestone of 1 billion submissions by 2019, which means it is literally impossible to submit the paper that belongs to someone else or just downloaded from the Internet without being detected and severely penalized.
How to Interpret the Turnitin Report?
Turnitin report includes the similarity score percentage that ranges from 0% to 100% match with other students’ papers and the database of available documents.
Depending on the higher educational institution’s policies and the type of task, the acceptable percentage of similarity might differ and be even up to 20%. Quantitative studies that rely on substantial evidence from previously conducted researches could not reach a 0% similarity score.
Points that might be highlighted in the report but are not related to plagiarism issues:
Interpreting the similarity score should be combined with the instructor’s feedback that is added thorough in-text comments and final overview at the end of the document along with the grade.
Is it possible to cheat Turnitin?
The unpleasant experience of numerous students who submitted essays found on the Web and got expelled says: “Definitely no! Do not even try.”
- Turnitin possesses presumably the most extensive database of documents, including those that require a paid subscription.
- Software is very accurate and checks very short parts of the content and basically, every third word needs to be rewritten in the text to avoid plagiarism in case of paraphrasing or rewriting.
- Plagiarism checkers are constantly being updated to include and detect all possible techniques of deceiving the system, such as ways of altering characters, using a thesaurus, or uploading pictures instead of text.
Also, the reason is that some tricks oriented on drawbacks of online plagiarism checking tools might allow avoiding triggering high similarity scores but could not pass through human review, which is an integral part of submitting and grading student’s papers through Turnitin.
One of the possible ways to cheat Turnitin is to substitute all spaces between words with any letter and then make its font color white. Indeed, Turnitin will not detect the similarity with the copied text, but it will show the number of words and characters. If every sentence is made to look like a word technically, the instructor will definitely check the phenomenon more closely, as there cannot be fifteen-twenty words in total while a five-paragraph essay was requested.
Less obvious tricks, such as substituting Latin characters with similarly looking Cyrillic ones are harder to detect visually and technically though the instructor will rely on quality review anyway. However, plagiarism checking tools already integrate algorithms that check inconsistencies with using different alphabets so that the potentially plagiarized parts will be highlighted for instructors.
Obviously, submitting a paper retrieved from an essay bank website storing pre-written texts will inevitably result in a striking similarity percentage. The number of students who already uploaded this same paper into the system or at least tried to do it is hard to be estimated. Moreover, the text itself may already be stored in the database.
Therefore, there is no working option to cheat plagiarism checking algorithms of Turnitin and the only possible way to avoid consequences and accusations in academic fraud is to write the original and properly cited text.
How to Pick the Best plagiarism checker
While Turnitin is obviously the best solution in terms of plagiarism prevention, sometimes it might not be the option. In order to choose the best service, one should consider the following criteria:
List of Best Plagiarism Detection Tools
This commercial service earned its reputation as the best plagiarism detection tool and both its effectivity and availability of multiple functions resulted in the growing number of universities and colleges using Turnitin on a regular basis.
This service requires the paid subscription as well and could be used as not only plagiarism detection software but as the tool to detect writing mistakes as well. Improvements in grammar, syntax, punctuation, and spelling will contribute to the effectiveness of any text.
Online plagiarism checker solution that offers a free trial. Its databases include not only web pages but students’ papers as well, totaling in billions of various documents to be compared with uploaded text.
This plagiarism tool is completely free and can be used without any limit. There is no need to create an account or watch ads to scan the paper for plagiarism. It provides a plagiarism report with the percentage and links to the sources that have similar content. It allows editing the necessary parts of the text, where the similarity percentage is especially high.
This service has been awarded as the best SEO-content related suite in 2018. It is useful for SEO and marketing specialists as well as for bloggers to ensure effective and unique content development.
IV. Ways To Stay Away From Plagiarism
The Consequences of Plagiarism in College
Any instances of plagiarism will lead to severe consequences once detected. Teachers and instructors warn students against plagiarism in almost every assignment as academic integrity is one of the primary values in education. However, it is possible to group the consequences into two major groups.
How To Avoid Plagiarism? - Tips for Students
The most relevant suggestion that is obvious for everyone – do not copy and paste. However, it is not always a key to writing a non-plagiarized paper that will earn a teacher’s appraisal. More specific tips go below:
Always acknowledge sources you used to get the information from. Marketing report assignment that is based solely on one’s personal working experience will be returned as plagiarized since the majority of procedures, concepts, and effective ideas that were implemented in work are expected to be based on studying materials, primary and secondary sources.
Cite all sources both in the text of the paper and on a reference page at the end. Some inconsistencies in formatting will result in a few points’ deductions, but omitting either in-text citations or the references page is treated as plagiarism.
Keep balance by using paraphrasing, quotes, and personal interpretation. Adding an in-text reference to every sentence in the paper is also plagiarism as someone else’s ideas are just borrowed and compiled together in the paper without the writer’s own voice that demonstrates the understanding.
Allow yourself a sufficient timeframe and do not procrastinate as research and writing processes might take longer than you expect. Therefore, you will not be tempted to copy and paste someone’s work in an hour till the deadline just attempting to turn in at least something. Anyway, a plagiarized paper will result in more severe consequences than the failing grade for one assignment.
Check for plagiarism online using either free services that offer rather low sensitivity or consider a subscription to the commercial product that will give you the results close to the one Turnitin would do.
Talking to a teacher and asking questions specific to the content of your paper will reassure him or her that you actually researched and wrote the entire paper yourself rather than simply downloaded it from the Web.
Plagiarism Prevention Checklist
Resources for Students
Multiple resources are available for students who want to know more about plagiarism and they can either find relevant web-based resources via simple search or be directed there by teachers.
University or college resources are the first places to check. Many educational institutions have useful web pages to explain the basics of academic integrity.
These resources might be a good place to practice avoiding plagiarism as well as learn about effective strategies while writing.
The website of Community for Accredited Online Schools provides not only the general data and facts about multiple types of plagiarism but the examples of cases as well.
Turnitin website includes multiple guides and webinars aimed for academic integrity promotion and all of them are available for free upon simple registration.
Preventing Plagiarism on Campus - Tips for Teachers
Teachers may implement multiple strategies to make sure that their students show their own work. These strategies may prevent all types of plagiarism.
The syllabus must include clearly visible and emphasized statement of Academic Integrity. Students must be aware of the phenomenon, all its nuances and consequences, thus, reading the statement and signing the pledge will contribute to developing an anti-cheating culture.
Update assignments’ requirements. The prompts must be unique so that the answer could not be easily found on the Internet and copied into the paper.
Include in-class writing tasks as part of the completion of big research assignments as this will both help you to teach students how to write properly, meet academic standards, and provide you samples of their own writing styles.
Make sure that the students are aware of and have access to online libraries so that they will use appropriate academic sources rather than rely on simple Google search, Wikipedia, or blogs.
Allow late submissions as students often resort to contract cheating and copying and pasting plagiarism when the deadline is approaching and they realize that assignment required more substantial preparation. Accidental plagiarism also occurs more often when a student is in a hurry and stress.
Integrate the process of writing into the final assessment. Let students present multiple drafts of an assignment, do peer review in class, and develop final oral presentations for extra points or as the part of the grade. These measures will make the process of writing transparent, much harder to be outsourced to someone else, and more helpful for students as their mistakes will be corrected prior to final submission.
Resources for Teachers
A useful resource for teachers that collects not only signs of plagiarism but also gives advice on tools helpful in combating this negative phenomenon.
The collection of numerous videos and guides on Plagiarism.org is intended to provide teachers with all useful recommendations on teaching students how to research, cite, and write the appropriate papers.
This online journal serves as the open-access database for researches on academic integrity and standards in multiple fields of study. Teachers may also find scholarly articles on student motivation there, which will allow them to understand why plagiarism happens better and avoid it.
This resource summarizes useful hints for teachers to be implemented in the learning environment as it is easier to create an environment where students have no opportunity to plagiarize than fail to teach students about proper research and writing and read plagiarized assignments.
A scholarly article that advocates for the inclusion of students’ backgrounds. Lack of support and explanation of the Western view on plagiarism may be difficult for nonnative students and this article will be helpful for teachers to understand this issue and ways of eliminating.