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Information Literacy Program: Plagiarism and poor citation practices

What causes the problem?

  • Inability to paraphrase well 
  • Procrastination 
  • Poor note taking or lack of note taking 
  • Difficulty reading and synthesizing scholarly sources 
  • Lack of understanding of citations as part of the scholarly discourse

Low stakes learning activities 

  • Share your personal strategies for reading and taking notes for research with students.
  • Provide a short list of sources of which you are familiar that students must use in a short, source-based writing assignment. For each source, provide a reading guide with context about the reading, definitions, information about the genre, etc. 
  • Share and discuss stories from the news about plagiarism.
  • Require that students write summaries and responses ("They say/I say" writing) for research sources.
  • Have students discuss the content of their topic for their paper or their sources with a partner in class. 
  • Have students keep reading logs summarizing research project sources that include answers to questions like “What does this mean to me?” “What effect does this text have on my values or my beliefs?” 
  • Take a good example of research-based writing in the discipline, and have students discuss the types of sources that were used and why and how they were used.
  • Have students practice identifying plagiarism in a writing sample.

Assignment design tweaks 

  • Require students to turn in digital copies of notes along with the assignment.
  • Have students turn in digital copies of sources used with passages that were quoted or paraphrased highlighted.
  • Include a line in your rubric on the ethical use of sources.
  • Have staged deliverables from students for the research assignment to discourage procrastination.
  • Ask that students write a personal summary essay about what they learned from their research.
  • Design a non-traditional research assignment so that using online student papers is discouraged.

Librarian support services 

  • Librarian-led instruction session on any of the following: recognizing plagiarism, discussion of why students plagiarize, citation styles, notetaking, paraphrasing 
  • Help with the low stakes learning activities 
  • One-on-one help for students 
  • Online plagiarism tutorial