Florida Faculty Academic Integrity
Many methods exist to test whether students in your classes are plagiarizing. When confronted with a possible plagiarized paper, begin by asking these questions:
- Is the writing style consistent with that of the student's? Compare it to the in-class writing sample you collected at the beginning of the term.
- Do the citations fall into a narrow time period? Are they too old or too recent?
- Are there mixed citation styles (APA, MLA, Turabian)?
- Is the bibliography padded or exaggerated? Do all of the citations match the discussion provided in the paper?
- Are the articles available full text via the periodical databases the library subscribes to or are they available in print at the Library? Examine and verify the sources.
If you still believe the student plagiarized, ask for a written review of his/her research process then set up a time to discuss the paper.
Finding the plagiarized passages can be a chore but can be done.
- Submit an unusual or distinct phrase from the paper into a search engine, like Google. Place quotation marks around the phrase.
- Try the same tactic as a KEYWORD SEARCH in your institutional library periodical database, such as Gale Powersearch or EbscoHost.
- Again, try this tactic in Google Books. Google Books puts the content of books right in your search results!
- Search for the title of the paper in paper mill sites.
Online detection services allow professors to submit entire papers that are then compared with information found in a centralized database. The centralized database includes papers found online, academic websites, documents indexes by major search engines, and other student papers previously submitted. The database does not include print sources, or student papers not previously submitted for analysis. Databases have varying performance with articles found in periodical databases. Use any detection service with caution.