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Early College Experience (ECE) Guide — Plagiarism Prevention

Guide to UConn Libraries' resources for members of the UConn ECE community

Plagiarism Basics

What is plagiarism?
Plagiarism can be a deliberate action, in cases of downloading or purchasing pre-written essays; or accidental, when a student paraphrases incorrectly or assumes that because the information is online it needs no attribution. Presenting the same paper in two or more courses without the explicit permission of the instructors involved is also considered a form of academic misconduct. Recycling papers addresses various ethical issues, including "self-plagiarism, " providing individuals with an unfair academic advantage, and undermining the objectives associated with a particular assignment.

Why do students plagiarize?

  • Lack of research skills. Many undergraduate students do not know how to search for academic sources or use journals and periodicals.
  • Confusion about how to properly cite sources, including inexperience in distinguishing between a paraphrase, summary, and "common knowledge."
  • Lack of understanding of plagiarism, copyright, and public domain. Students assume that material from the Internet can be used without citing it.
  • Ethical misconceptions which focus more on high grades and career aspirations rather than education and the learning experience.
  • Poor time management and organizational skills that lead to procrastination and last minute attempts to put a paper together.
  • Cultural differences among international students who assume that copying is acceptable.

Preventing plagiarism in the classroom
Instructors are advised by the Dean of Students Office (DOA) to " take all reasonable steps to prevent academic misconduct. "

  • Include an “Academic Misconduct” statement in your syllabus, including:
    • clarification of any specific style/format requirement for the course
    • quotations from the Student Code, Appendix A on Academic Integrity
    • how you intend to handle violations.
  • Discuss plagiarism and utilize class time to encourage students to paraphrase and summarize as an exercise in developing their own ideas.
  • Plan a library session to familiarize students with search options from databases and print resources. Students can also acquire research skills by working with their library liaison. 
  • Provide guidance on citation styles and preferred formats and encourage students to visit the writing center to learn how to paraphrase and summarize accurately.
  • Avoid generic assignments that are easy to search online and lead to essays from paper mills. Test your topic by searching it on a popular search engine to see what papers and resources are available.
  • Assign short writing assignments early on so that you can familiarize yourself with the students' ability level and writing style.
  • Alleviate time management issues by asking for assignments in stages, for example, a thesis statement, outline, bibliography, draft and a final product. 
  • Include a point value for accurate citations of any materials used.
  • Require that references be dated within the last five years or less since many pre-written papers are typically dated.
  • Assign a research log so that students may documents their research strategy, indicating the library databases used, search strategy, and usefulness of the resources.
  • Require a variety of appropriate sources, including the library' print collection, scholarly articles from specialized databases, and reputable web pages.
  • Required students to include a sentence at the top of the assignment stating that they are aware of the Student Code and and not violated it.

Detecting plagiarism

  • Unusual formatting, layout, and use of multiple fonts
  • References with missing or incomplete citations
  • Rambling essay, containing a few related paragraphs and extensive use use of jargon or advanced vocabulary
  • Frequent changes in terminology and style signal cutting & pasting
  • Dated or obscure references not readily available in the UConn Libraries or local libraries
  • Writing voice is considerably different from the student's regular voice.

Reporting plagiarism
Detailed policies and procedures are available on the UConn Community Standards web page. Please refer to 
Appendix A: Academic Integrity in Undergraduate Education and Research. The following information is excerpted from the Appendix:

"When an instructor believes there is sufficient information to demonstrate a case of academic misconduct, s/he shall notify the student in writing of the allegation of misconduct and the academic consequences that the instructor will impose. The appropriate academic consequence for serious offenses is generally considered to be failure in the course. For offenses regarding small portions of the course work, failure for that portion is suggested with the requirement that the student repeat the work for no credit. The written notification shall also inform the student whether the case has been referred to the Academic Integrity Hearing Board (Board) for consideration of additional sanctions. The instructor shall send the written notification to the student with a copy to the Office of Community Standards (Community Standards) within five business days of having discovered the alleged misconduct. At the Regional Campuses, a copy shall be sent to the Office of Student Affairs (Regional Campus Student Affairs). Cases that are purely technical in nature, without any perceived intent to achieve academic advantage, may be reported at the discretion of the instructor."

Tools for Faculty

Google and other search engines can detect phrases that you suspect are plagiarized. Select up to ten words (32 words when using Google) from a suspect paper or choose a phrase and place quotes around it.

Library Databases such as Academic Search Premier provide full text access to many articles in various disciplines. For help in searching, ask your library liaison who is familiar with general subject-specific databases.

SafeAssign is available through HuskyCT and can serve as a strong deterrent to plagiarism if students are aware of it. The software has limitations in searching for materials from numerous subscription-based databases and print resources. Refer to Blackboard Help for information on the use of SafeAssign. For questions about using SafeAssign with HuskyCT, contact CETL


Tools for Students

Plagiarism Tutorials & Tests