According to the 1989 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, plagiarism is "the wrongful appropriation or purloining, and publication as one's own, of the ideas, or the expression of the ideas of another." There are several different types of plagiarism:
The Internet makes it easier than ever for students to plagiarize. By its very nature, the Internet promotes the idea of information as "cultural commons," or community property. Furthermore, web pages often lack a definitive author or owner, making them difficult to cite. Citation practices for Internet sources are still unstable, varying wildly depending on the style manual.
Students have easy access to Paper Mills, where they can download pre-written essays on file or order a custom research paper for a fee. There are hundreds of paper mill web sites out there- to see a list of some of them, go to Internet Paper Mills. Most of the papers coming out of these paper mills are poorly written, have old or unreliable citations, and have been recycled numerous times on other paper mill sites. Unfortunately, these factors often do not deter students.
As an instructor, there are several things you can do to minimize plagiarism in your classes. Here is a list:
Clues to Watch for
It is usually easier to track down online plagiarism than old-fashioned copying from a print source. Here are some sources for tracking down online plagiarism. When you search these sources, select unique phrases from the paper (the more stylized or awkward the better). Be sure you are searching within the "fulltext of the article" rather than just the citation/abstract of the article. Introductions and conclusions are often especially difficult for students to write, so they may be likely candidates for plagiarized passages.
For further information on plagiarism, see the Quick Reference: Anti-Plagiarism site and the Web Sources Related to Plagiarism site. Reference staff at Joyner Library can also provide assistance in tracing a source. Stop by the Reference Desk, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 252.328.2267.