Posts Tagged ‘plagiarism’

CITL Answers-April 2012

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Question: When it arises, plagiarism is complicated and time consuming for all. I have to attend to detection, making a complaint, and sanctioning the student. How can I stop plagiarism from happening in the first place?

CITL’s Answer: The Iwasaki Library and the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning assist faculty through discussion sessions about the reasons why students plagiarize. And, at these sessions they offer recommendations for assignment design that can help deter plagiarism. Watch for announcements about these discussion sessions or contact the library:, or the CITL:

Let Them Surf

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The following excerpt from the story, Let Them Surf, and a follow-up comment, both published on May 12, 2011 in Inside Higher Ed, may give you something to consider when testing your students.

A Danish university has adopted an unusual strategy to tackle cheating: allowing unfettered internet access, even during examinations. Lise Petersen, e-learning project coordinator at the University of Southern Denmark, said that all handwritten exams were being revised and transferred to a digital platform wherever possible, with a completion date of January 2012. She said administering exams via Internet software would allow lecturers to create tests that were aligned with course content rather than “trivia” quizzes. “What you want to test is problem-solving and analytical skills, and … students’ ability to reflect and discuss one particular topic,” she said.  Petersen added that, far from being a soft option, using the Internet as an academic tool was a challenge for most students because of the sheer volume of information available. “The skill is discerning between relevant and irrelevant information and then putting it in context,” she said. . . Petersen said that another benefit of the new Web-based system was that a strict limit could be imposed on the length of work submitted by students. This would force them to rethink how they write and prevent them from copying and pasting from other sources, she said.

This follow-up comment posted by Frank Schmidt, Professor of Biochemistry at University of Missouri, tells me that his assessment method is a learning tool, as well.

For many years I have given a standard, closed book, problem-solving exam in class on Friday. At the end of the hour, students take a clean copy of the exam which they turn in at the start of class on Monday, for half the points they missed. All sources are allowed. A bit more work (I have a class of 113 this semester) but it reinforces critical points, allows those who forget a key fact to find it, requires them to look things up in the literature, and promotes interaction among the students. I am also told that the parties on Friday night after they get together to do the re-take are a lot of fun.

CITL Answers – October 2011

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Question: Does Emerson College request faculty follow specific guidelines when prepar­ing course syllabi?

CITL’s Answer: Yes, the Office of Academic Affairs requests that faculty follow the Guide­lines for Syllabi. It lists the elements that all syllabi should contain. And it offers useful language for the statement about plagiarism and the statement that provides information about academic accommodations for disabilities. The Guidelines for Syllabi document is updated as needed. You can request a copy from

CITL Answers – February 2011

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Question: From time to time in national news there are stories about plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct in higher education. What should I do if I suspect a student of plagiarism?

CITL’s Answer: Plagiarism is a serious offense. It is damaging to students and potentially unpleasant and risky for faculty, as well. The Academic Policy Committee issued, and the Faculty Assembly approved, a detailed plagiarism and academic dishonesty policy. When you suspect plagiarism, consult the policy to be fully informed about your role, the student’s rights, and Emerson’s process in response to suspicions of plagiarism.

Then, if you are still suspicious, the next step is to speak with the student to gather more information. If you wish to go forward with a complaint, you complete an Academic Misconduct Complainant Reporting Form and submit it to the Office of the Dean of Students.  Do not hesitate to consult your Department Chair or the CITL if you wish to discuss a case before submitting a complaint.

CITL Answers – February 2009

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Question: “Having plagiarism detection software would make the detection process so much easier than it is now.  Why not invest in the software?”

CITL’s Answer: McLafferty and Foust wrote that “[p]revention of plagiarism is preferable to policing papers.” I have little doubt that most of us would agree with their statement.  To have more valid evidence of your students’ skills and knowledge and to minimize time spent on policing papers, design assignments for student work that cannot be found on the internet.  For tips on how to create meaningful and plagiarism-proof assignments, or for cost-free ways to investigate plagiarism, contact Karen St. Clair, x8574.  Or consult McLafferty and Foust. (McLafferty, C. L., & Foust, K. M. (2004).  Electronic plagiarism as a college instructor’s nightmare-prevention and detection. Journal of Education for Business, 79(3), 186-190.)