Reading & Writing Center
Plagiarism often occurs when students feel overwhelmed by a research assignment. While this is certainly no excuse, teachers can take steps to prevent plagiarism before it occurs. The following resources describe how to avoid plagiarism by educating students and creating plagiarism-resistant assignments.
Educating Students on Plagiarism
Make sure your students are familiar with the conventions of research and citation.
There are a number of excellent campus resources to help with this:
- You Quote It, You Cite It! - An interactive tutorial lesson on citation
- Citation Style Guides - A thorough explanation of MLA and APA citation styles, with examples
- LPC Library's Plagiarism Site - A list of useful links about plagiarism and citation
- What is Plagiarism? - A brief powerpoint presentation aimed at basic skills students
- Turnitin plagiarism and research tutorials - A collection of valuable definitions and explanations
- Turnitin instructions for students - A tutorial for students who are submitting their papers through Turnitin
- SafeAssign instructions for students - A tutorial for students who are submitting their papers through Blackboard SafeAssign.
Las Positas College:
- Academic Honesty Statement - Las Positas's policy on cheating and plagiarism
- Student Conduct and Due Process - Explains the consequences of plagiarism
Structure assignments in steps.
Week 1: Annotated Bibliography due
Week 2: Research Proposal due
Week 3: Interview Report due
Week 3: Rough Draft due
Week 4: Final Essay due
Build in preparatory assignments.
Research Proposal: Students can write a breif summary of their intended project.
Segment Reports: Students can write reports on their progress on various aspects of the research project. For example, if the assignment calls for primary research, students can write a one-page report of their findings before writing the final assignment.
Annotated bibliography: This is like a bibliography or Works Cited page, but it also includes a brief summary and/or assessment of each text after the citation. This is a great tool for preparing for a research paper, or it can function as an independant assignment.
The following websites all have excellent descriptions and examples of annotated bibliographies:
- Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue
- Instruction, Research, and Information Services, Cornell University Library
- University Libraries, University of Toledo
Write assignments in student-friendly language that explains the terminology of research and gives examples.
Step 1: Annotated Bibliography
bibliography = an alphabetical list of sources for your paper, along with their bibliographical information
bibliographical information = the information necessary to find your text again, e.g. the author, title, publisher, etc. Since our paper uses MLA style, you should follow the MLA guidelines for bibliographies (see attached handout)
annotation = a summary or commentary
annotated bibliography = a list of texts and their bibliographical information, along with brief summaries or commentaries about each work.
On the reverse side of this sheet, you will find a sample annotated bibliography. Your annotated bibliography should follow the same format.
Require discussion of both class texts and those found through research.
This semester, we read Dude, Where's My Country by Michael Moore and Let Freedom Ring by Sean Hannity. For your research paper, assess one argument made by either Hannity or Moore about war, national security, or education. First explain Moore or Hannity's position thoroughly, discussing quotations from the book. Then use your research to determine the validity of that position. Your paper should take a position on Hannity or Moore's argument, explaining whether you agree or disagree, and why.
For example, one argument that Michael Moore makes is that America would be safer if we gave more aid to other countries. You would first explain his argument by discussing quotes from his book. Then you would use your research to decide if Moore's proposal would work. Some questions you would want to consider are:
- Does world poverty really contribute to the rise of terrorism?
- Does the U.S. currently give an appropriate amount of aid to the rest of the world?
- Historically, do rates of terrorist attacks decrease when there is less poverty in the world?
- Might there be other reasons that the terrorists resent America?
Use your research to answer these questions.
Focus assignments on current-events issues.
California Proposition 7 calls for California utilities to use more renewable resources of power such as solar and wind power. While this sounds like a good idea for the environment, some environmental groups oppose the proposition, claiming that it would favor large power companies and drive small alternative energy providers out of business. For your assignment, research the arguments made for and against Proposition 7, and use these arguments to take a position on the proposition: do you believe it will help or hurt the state's environmental movement?
Require up-to-date sources.
At least two of your sources must have been published within the last year.
Specify the types of sources required and discourage students from using general internet sources.
Your sources should include at least two articles from LPC databases and one book. You may only use one non-database website.
Ask students to incorporate primary research, such as interviews or surveys, into their papers.
You must conduct one personal interview and incorporate exerpts into your paper. You should complete this interview by Week Two of our research process. During Week Three, you will turn in a two-page Interview Report describing your interview. Your report should include:
- name of interviewee
- why you chose this interviewee (what is his/her expertise or knowledge about your topic)
- the questions you asked, and your interviewee's responses
- some final reflections on what you learned about your research topic from this interview
This report will help you process the information from your interview, so that you can incorporate some parts of the interview into your final research paper.
The Las Positas College Plagiarism task force has also created a set of Suggested Practices for Preventing Plagiarism.
This page was created by Karin Spirn with help from the LPC Plagiarism Task Force.