Published Date

January 1, 2007

This resource was developed as part of Plagiarism: Curricular Materials for History Instructors by Michael Rawson.

Although the burden of honesty rests on students alone, instructors should openly encourage it through their words, actions, and assignments:

Send the right messages to students.

  • Develop a relationship with your students. They are less likely to cheat when they know and respect their instructor.
  • Let students know that you are on their side. Indicate your awareness that heavy workloads and easy Internet access make plagiarism extremely tempting, and emphasize that you want to save them from the consequences. Avoid adversarial approaches that might alienate some students and dare others to try to slip plagiarized work past you.
  • Take the time to teach students what plagiarism is and how to avoid it—much undergraduate plagiarism is unintentional. Use examples that show students how to use sources correctly (and incorrectly).

Craft plagiarism-resistant assignments.

  • Create interesting assignments. Students are more likely to cheat on assignments that fail to engage them.
  • Create eccentric or unique assignments that students cannot copy from elsewhere.
  • Create assignments that require a personal response.
  • Ask students to submit outlines and drafts of their papers ahead of the final due date. This will help to ensure that they are doing their own work and discourage them from procrastinating until the night before and resorting to plagiarism out of desperation. Instructors also might require students to submit their notes with their final papers.
  • To ensure that students actually look at the resources they cite, ask them to annotate their bibliography or attach copies of cover pages for cited works.
  • Require students to use at least one source that is no more than a year old. Most of the papers available to students on the Internet are less up to date.
  • Ask students to turn in electronic copies of their papers along with the hard copies. Indicate that you have the means to check them against a plagiarism database (whether or not you intend to do so). To be fair to students, and to maximize the effectiveness of the requirement, warn students well in advance of the due date that you will ask for electronic copies.

Next section: Detecting Plagiarism