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Best Practices for Teachers


There are few intellectual offenses more serious than plagiarism in academic and professional contexts. This resource offers advice on how to avoid plagiarism in your work.

Suspecting a student of plagiarism is never pleasant; proving a student has plagiarized is even worse. It's common for teachers to feel offended and hurt when students act unethically in their courses. But there are some things you, as a teacher, can do to minimize plagiarism in your classes. Click here for more resources on how to prevent plagiarism in the classroom.

Developing a strong course policy on plagiarism

One can never be too direct in explaining to students what actions can be considered plagiarism in their class. Writing and providing students with a course policy statement that includes a section on plagiarism is an excellent first step. Be sure to include and cite any school policies that might be suspect.

Here, for example, is a statement that Professor Irwin Weiser of Purdue University has used with his Introductory Composition courses:

The following statement about honesty and the use of sources is from the Introduction to First-Year Composition Courses:

When writers use material from other sources, they must acknowledge this source. Not doing so is called plagiarism, which means using without credit the ideas or expressions of another. You are therefore cautioned (1) against using, word for word, without acknowledgment, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, etc., from the printed or manuscript material of others; (2) against using with only slight changes the materials of another; and (3) against using the general plan, the main headings, or a rewritten form of someone else's material. These cautions apply to the work of other students as well as to the published work of professional writers.

Of course, these cautions also apply to information you find on the Internet, World Wide Web, or other electronic or on-line sources. Since we will be discussing how to acknowledge and cite sources, you should be able to avoid accidentally plagiarizing anyone else's work. If you are in doubt, please ask me, since the consequences for plagiarism are severe. The university policies about plagiarism include penalties ranging from failure of an assignment to expulsion from the university. In this class, anyone who plagiarizes fails the course, and I will probably inform the Office of the Dean of Students of the reason for the failing grade.