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Faculty Resources for Combating Plagiarism

Why Focus on the Assignment?

One way to combat plagiarism is to develop unique assignments that are difficult for students to plagiarize. Here are some suggestions that might help you.

Assignment Design

Ask yourself: Why do you want students to conduct research in your course? What learning goals do you have for them?

Instructors often assign a 10 page research paper on a topic because it is “good for them” (like Wheaties), but this can lead to a “data dump" rather than any kind of learning. You might consider an alternative research assignment, depending on the learning goals you have for students.

“I want students to get a sense of the range of research on this issue.”

You might have students do an annotated bibliography (see Progression of Assignments).

“I want students to enter the critical conversation.”

With a librarian, you might have students generate a list of good articles on a topic (perhaps using something like Delicious). Using this limited list, students could write a short response paper that incorporates 2 or 3 of the sources the group agrees are good representatives of multiple views on the issue.

Progression of Assignments

(To curtail plagiarism)

First Assignment:

  • Summarize X article by X
  • using a lead in phrase with the name of the author and
  • an end of text citation.
  • What is your response to the way X approaches the problem.
  • For this first assignment demarcate very clearly where the summary of X author ends and where your response begins. 


Second Assignment:

  • Paraphrase Y article by Y
  • using a lead in phrase with the name of the author and
  • an  end of text citation.
  • Reference your summary of X article by X by
  • using a lead in phrase with the name of the author and
  • an end of text citation
  • Analyze the difference between the two authors (X and Y) in their approach of XY problem.
  • Remember to always make clear which point of view is X’s or Y’s or yours by using in-text citations appropriately.



Third Assignment:
Create an Annotated Bibliography of articles regarding XY problem using at least 4 sources.

  • Cite each source in MLA format and under each citation
  • Give a 5 sentence synopsis of the source
  • Explain why this author is credible
  • Tell how you plan to use this source in your paper


Fourth Assignment:

  • Using the 4-5 sources in your Annotated Bibliography, create a thesis which is unique to you regarding XY problem.
  • Support this thesis using evidence from your sources.
  • Remember to cross reference all supporting points with in-text and end of text citations.
  • Your reader should have no trouble making out which of your written material is from your outside sources and which is your analysis.
  • Highlight all source material in green and your analysis in yellow before you turn your paper in.

Which assignment is more “plagiarizable” and why?

  • Write a profile of a famous physicist.  Explain what the physicist has contributed to the field.
  • Write an analysis of the states of play and what children learn. Write up an observation you do of 2-3 children playing, and apply the textbook’s categories of play: what types of play did you observe and what are children learning?