How do teachers check for plagiarism?  First of all, I do NOT plagiarise. But, I'm curious on how teachers check for plagiarism. Recently this girl in my class was caught plagiarising... she was...

How do teachers check for plagiarism? 

First of all, I do NOT plagiarise.

But, I'm curious on how teachers check for plagiarism. Recently this girl in my class was caught plagiarising... she was in big BIG trouble. but she kept saying that she didn't realize it. That it WAS her own words but it must've been the same words as the plagiarised source by "coincidence" (ok so its not very believable... BUT) i never want this to happen to me... what IF that girl was telling the truth and it WAS a coincidence.

I just want to know so I can check my essays for any plagiarism.

 

Asked on by parkhyori

25 Answers | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Plagiarism is a strange animal. It stands out in a "crowd." The first indication that a student has plagiarized for me as an English teacher is writing that does not sound like the student—using words he/she would never use in discussion or in a writing is usually a sign.

I remember one student who wrote a sonnet that I really was impressed with, at least the first half of it. I was amazed that I had never seen this writing from him before, but thought it was because we had only started working on poetry, and I felt perhaps his sonnet was an emotional response to something he was passionate about. The second half of the poem wasn't so good, so I thought perhaps he ran out of time and rushed it.

I read the beginning of the sonnet to my husband, that is how impressed I was. He suggested I do an advanced search on the Internet. The first part of the sonnet was written by John Keats. And that's why it was so beautiful—at least for this particular student.

So I've become a little more cynical: if it sounds like someone else is speaking, it often is. If the writing is particularly sophisticated, a red flag goes up for me. If is sounds familiar, as if I've seen it somewhere else, in another class period, I usually remember it and go looking.

Plagiarism is not just copying something word for word; it can also be changing words but copying the author's sentence structure. Some students believe that if they change words they don't have to give credit to the author: if it's not original information, but info. collected from another source, that source must be given credit.

Sometimes plagiarism is a mistake; sometimes it is intentional. But there are often times serious consequences: some colleges will "expel" a student immediately with no recourse. It's a dangerous gamble.

howesk's profile pic

howesk | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Original poster- the key here is that you do not want to plagiarize. That's a good first step! If you take the necessary steps to be aware of and avoid plagiarism, you will be fine in the future. Take into consideration what the other people here have posted about citation and internet sources. Generally, I Google student writing if I find it suspicious. Usually when I suspect, I'm right. I do realize that some students have just never been taught what plagiarism really is, so make sure you know it's full meaning and consequences. Practice paraphrasing! Check out the OWL @ Purdue for info on plagiarism. It's a great source.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

No one has mentioned services such as Turnitin.com.  This not only allows you to check student parents against the whole internet, it also compares papers to other student parents.  If every student in your school turns in every paper, then the program builds up a database.  In this way, you can also catch students cheating off of other students.  This is something that just typing phrases into google cannot do.

trophyhunter1's profile pic

trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

There is no need to check your answers for plagiarism. If you get your ideas from online, then you can cite the original author. You can do this by including a works cited or a bibliography at the end of your assignment. In the paragraphs of your essays, you can clearly explain where you get your ideas from, summarizing the original author's contention or insight, and give that author credit, either through parenthetical citation or footnotes. After giving credit, you can respond to that person's ideas, either by challenging them or by adding to them. A failure to do so is stealing the original author's intellectual property.

Example Paragraph:

Plagiarism is a rising concern in today's classroom and many students are unsure of how to use the Internet to research their learning without plagiarism. "RSkardal" of eNotes suggests that we can "clearly explain where you get your ideas from and give the original author credit." However, how can we do this when we get our ideas from our teacher? Is it appropriate to cite a lecture? Fortunately, if we get our ideas from a website, we can easily cite the author, title and date of publication, and URL before submitting our work to our teachers so that we can consider ourselves safe from plagiarizing.

End example.

At the end of your paper, you need to cite your sources. I suggest that you Google "Son of Citation."

As a teacher for 29 years, I know the tone and language my students use in a writing assignment. That said, when they do a big project, if suddenly the report reads like a textbook, it usually is. Plagiarism can be checked by checking their internet sources. If a question arises, one can always go to the article in question and scan it to see if it was copied word for word or not. I tell students to paraphrase, to write in their own words, and to quote others when necessary.

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

One big way teachers can spot plagiarism is by recognizing the writer's voice for each of his or her students. When I read something a student of mine writes, I'm familiar enough with that student's writing that I can identify if it sounds true or not. If you're wanting tips on how to avoid plagiarizing I would suggest the following. Make individual notecards for each piece of information that you get from your sources. Copy the information directly from the source to the notecard. Then when you are writing, restate the original words in your own language and make sure you cite the source.

rskardal's profile pic

rskardal | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

There is no need to check your answers for plagiarism. If you get your ideas from online, then you can cite the original author. You can do this by including a works cited or a bibliography at the end of your assignment. In the paragraphs of your essays, you can clearly explain where you get your ideas from, summarizing the original author's contention or insight, and give that author credit, either through parenthetical citation or footnotes. After giving credit, you can respond to that person's ideas, either by challenging them or by adding to them. A failure to do so is stealing the original author's intellectual property.

Example Paragraph:

Plagiarism is a rising concern in today's classroom and many students are unsure of how to use the Internet to research their learning without plagiarism. "RSkardal" of eNotes suggests that we can "clearly explain where you get your ideas from and give the original author credit." However, how can we do this when we get our ideas from our teacher? Is it appropriate to cite a lecture? Fortunately, if we get our ideas from a website, we can easily cite the author, title and date of publication, and URL before submitting our work to our teachers so that we can consider ourselves safe from plagiarizing.

End example.

At the end of your paper, you need to cite your sources. I suggest that you Google "Son of Citation."

ms-charleston-yawp's profile pic

Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

At the risk of sounding redundant, I would like to reiterate a few things already focused upon above.

The importance of an author's "voice" cannot be understated.  I use it myself when answering questions for students online at eNotes.  It's purposeful.  I enjoy a conversational tone; however, I also don't want students plagiarizing my answers. 

I can't stress enough the vast usefulness of simple, internet search engines!  Google, Yahoo, and even Ask are absolutely imperative in catching plagiarism and are available to virtually everyone with a computer.  A sentence typed into one of those search engines can be a grand and enormous tool!  There are other services (such as Turnitin mentioned above) and other programs that will break down plagiarism even further.  Huge chunks of text can be inserted in order to spit out stats that can even be broken down into "percent matched."

It seems that although the use of the internet has made it easier to plagiarize, it has also heightened our ability to catch these very same culprits!

ahampton36's profile pic

ahampton36 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

In addition to innate, intuitive checks many writing instructors develop to detect plagiarism, there are online software tools available to complete this task in a concrete fashion.

For example, instructors can type sentences into the Google search engine to cull plagiarized passages. Subscriptions to another popular service called Turnitin is provided through schools, colleges and universities to educators in efforts to reveal and prevent plagiarism. This is a paid service, however, but other free plagiarism checkers are also available online.

 

 

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

How many times have people been told something that someone they know has supposedly said, and then they remark, "That does not sound like something ----would say"?  Clearly, there is a certain "voice" that everyone's writing demonstrates.  This "voice" develops from the way in which the writer arranges his/her thoughts,  the depth of this person's thoughts, the sentence structure, the choice of words, and use of certain transitions, etc.

One student says she avoids plagiarizing by reading all that she can on her topic, taking sketchy notes.  Then, she thinks about what she has read without writing it for a while.  The next day she writes her essay, paper, etc. in her own words and with individual interpretations to the ideas she has gleaned.  Still, she credits her sources on the Works Cited page. 

There are few people who have completely original ideas on subjects.  But, giving the idea another angle or perspective or interpretation makes it uncopied. 

lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

It doesn't take very long for a teacher to come to know the students' abilities and what can be expected from them.  When the writing style or the ideas are beyond the scope of the expectation, then I start to research on-line.  With so much excellent information assessable on the Internet, it is hard for students to just "do a little reading" and not have that play a part in what they end up writing, but if ANY idea in an essay was not theirs before they started the research then it is plagiarized.  I think many students forget that, or assume that as long as they elaborate the idea or at the least put in their own words they are fine, but they are not.  I usually start typing key words or phrases into a search engine like Google, and see what comes up.  It usually doesn't take much effort to find what I suspect was used. 

susan3smith's profile pic

susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Most teachers  become very adept at spotting a plagiarized essay.  Everyone has a particular style of writing, and if that style of writing is not the same for in-class and out of class essays, then plagiarism is suspected.  Further, we have tools such as Turnitin.com to help us find matches to essays on the internet.  Usually it is not very difficult to find those essays.  Once I had two students who copied the same essay from an internet source!  So, there was no doubt that they both had plagiarized. 

In the particular situation that you described, I, as a teacher, would have a talk with that student about her essay, especially if I found a very similar one on the internet.   I would ask her how she came up with her ideas and  what various words meant (especially if I  thought she drew her ideas and/or sentences from a professional).  If she could not answer my questions satisfactorily,or elaborate on what she had written,  I would give her a zero and notify her parents. 

 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with Post #2.  I tend to have my students do writing that I know is their own (like in class essays).  That tells me what their general capabilities are.  Then, when I read longer papers they write, I can tell (I hope) when they are just copying what someone else wrote.  If I think they have done this, I Google some of the passages that seem suspicious.  Typically, I then find where they have copied from.

 

drrab's profile pic

drrab | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Generally you would be looking at a writing assignment. Good writing teachers can recognize the vocabulary, sentence structure, and depth of the writing itself because they have seen other work by the student and/or have had conversation with the student. It is not likely that someone could express his/her thoughts in writing in an elevated fashion if he/she is not able to express those thoughts verbally. Therefore, if the writing appears to be more cogent than the speaking, a teacher may become suspicious. Also, many writing and language teachers are often well read and would recognize work of other authors.

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

There are plenty of online plagiarizing check scans; most are free. My teachers use turnitin.com. There are several websites that allow you to check your own papers. The computer scans your paper and looks for exact matches in its database. It will then issue you an originality report to let you know how much of your paper could be copied directly from something. 

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