All scholarly research necessarily draws on a structure of previous research.
Scholarly documentation allows students to give credit where it
is due and clearly indicate the basis of their work. Consequently,
the ability to properly use scholarly documentation is essential
to the academic enterprise. However, some students do not understand
the seriousness of documentation or recognize it as a hallmark
of good scholarship. This document suggests tips that instructors
can use to deal with documentation issues in their classrooms.
Assistance with documentation issues at Penn
Maintaining Academic Integrity in the Classroom
- provides an online guide to scholarly documentation and examples of several styles.
- can help instructors identify sources of undocumented information.
- can work with your students to improve their time management, study and learning skills.
- provides online guides to aid students with the process of documentation and the research process more generally.
- can suggest ways to minimize the possibility of academic dishonesty in your classroom.
- can advise you of steps for addressing possible cases of academic dishonesty.
- can investigate suspected cases of academic dishonesty
- includes the plagiarism checking tool Turnitin
Various factors lead students to improperly document sources. Fortunately, many
of these factors can be addressed in the classroom or by academic support services on campus.
Some students believe that only direct quotations need to
be cited or think that information on the Internet is in the
public domain. Others do not understand instructors' expectations
or the implications of not documenting sources.
students about proper documention:
the process of scholarly documentation in class, refer
students to documentation
aids such as Penn's PORT website and mention support groups around campus that
that confusion is not an excuse for inadequate documentation.
Explain your policy regarding plagiarism at the beginning
of the semester.
why you believe in the Code of Academic Integrity.
your course has recitations, have TAs discuss documentation
issues at greater length.
Some students wait until the last minute to start their work
and then panic. These students may improperly document resources
in the heat of the moment.
assignments to include both the process and the result of
students to identify, describe, and submit a topic well
before the paper is due.
students to submit an annotated bibliography well before
the due date.
students to submit a rough draft.
students that academic support services around campus
can help them develop time management skills.
The ease of taking material from digital sources coupled with
the belief that instructors are unable to track them down
lead some students to risk getting caught.
that you know the ways students plagiarize and that you
can track down materials.
that you have antiplagiarism software at your disposal.
Explain the possible consequences of improper documentation.
Lack of self-confidence or disappointment with previous grades
may lead some students to believe that their only chance to
excel is to plagiarize.
students about academic support services on campus and point
out that plagiarized papers are often of low quality:
might not resort to plagiarism if they understand that
they can learn better academic skills and will be hurting
themselves by taking information from the Internet.
of research skills:
Students who have little experience with scholarly research
may be unable to locate appropriate resources. When it is
time to synthesize information, students who have not been
able to locate scholarly material may become frustrated.
students learn appropriate research techniques:
Clearly define and explain research expectations for the
your own research techniques.
students to research support services such as those provided
by the Library.
assignments that teach research skills.
|Fear of appearing unscholarly:
Some students believe that citations detract from the quality
of their own work. Rather than document sources in a scholarly
fashion, they modify texts to avoid plagiarism without using
citations. The attempt to avoid plagiarism sometimes fails.
Explain to your students that thorough
documentation is a sign of good scholarship:
- If a student hands in a rough draft,
use the occasion to remind the student about the importance
of documenting sources.
For more suggestions,
see the Office
of Student Conduct's Web site.
Responding to Plagiarism
of Pennsylvania has an Office of Student Conduct that "deals
with alleged instances of academic dishonesty and other student
misconduct, in order to determine how best to resolve these allegations
consistent with the goals and mission of the University as an
educational and intellectual community." You may want to
schedule a confidential consultation with the OSC before making
any decisions. The Guidelines
for Faculty on Academic Integrity provides an in-depth explanation
of how to handle academic integrity issues.
Locating Plagiarized Sources
involves copying full-text resources that are found on the free
Internet or on Library databases. Librarians and members of the
Office of Student Conduct are available to help locate the original
source. Although many students plagiarize from the Internet, it
is not uncommon for students to plagiarize from physical books
and articles. Keep in mind that the location strategies listed
below are unlikely to detect plagiarism from physical resources.
Select unusual phrases from a paper to search on an Internet search
engine. The best search engine for locating material is probably
Google, which is the most comprehensive and highlights words corresponding
to the search in the list of results.
Online Scholarly Resources
Some scholarly databases provide full-text material that is easy
to plagiarize. Search for materials by searching full-text databases
with unusual phrases. Unlike Internet search engines, Library
resources do not always search for words throughout an entire
document by default. In OneFile, for example, you must select
'TextWord' to search for phrases in the text.
full-text databases include Ebsco,
Papermills collect papers and make them widely available. Some
provide free papers, but many are restricted and require users
to pay for access. Restricted papermills cannot be searched with
Internet search engines, but some of them can be searched with
Anti-plagiarism software. Kimbel Library of Coastal Carolina University
has compiled a
list of over 250 paper mills.
Turnitin is a plagiarism tool available through Blackboard and Canvas that checks student work against a number of online sources. Turnitin reports can be used to detect plagiarism and also shared with students as a teaching tool.
Turnitin checks student papers against the current and archived internet, scholarly databases, a global repository of student papers, and a Penn-only repository of student papers.
For directions on how to use this tool, see the Turnitin for Instructors documentation.