Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Plagiarism detection software available to online instructors

Online instructors have numerous options on plagiarism detection software.  Noted in (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006) are Turnitin, Google’s functionality of tracking of copied phrases, and EVE (Essay Verification Engine).  Additional options include: GrammarlyiThenticate, ViperPlagiarism Detector, and Write Check.

Design of assessments can help prevent academic dishonesty

Dr. Pratt and Dr. Palloff in (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) recommend that assessments mirror real-life experience as much as possible; that they be as authentic as possible to minimize academic dishonesty.  The rationale being that the nature of such assessment does not warrant cheating—even if students were given permission to do so.  In such assessments, the result of students’ work has to come from themselves. They have to produce something from what they have learned.  They can collaborate with others as much as they need to but the final result will be their own effort.  As much as possible, I believe it is best to avoid assessments that rely on multiple-choice questions.

Strategies to facilitate academic honesty

(Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006) and Dr. Pratt & Dr. Palloff in (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) propose well-founded, sound strategies—which include:

  • Communicating the principles of academic integrity as a component of the “expectation management” strategy discussed in (Jocoy & Diabiase, 2006); for example, requiring students “to pass an academic integrity quiz to unlock instructions for project assignments.” (P. 9).
  • Developing course specific guidelines for proper citation and proper paraphrasing. (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).
  • Utilizing plagiarism detection software and warning students of its presence
  • Administering tougher penalties
  • Providing students with a clear explanation of plagiarism, fair use and copyright, and directing them to resources that can provide detailed information, such as the institution’s library as Dr. Palloff noted in (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) and/or the Library of Congress Copyright Office

I would add to the list, what I believe to be a fundamental strategy is, getting to know my students well and establishing a trusting relationship within our learning community.  My opinion is that if there is a strong sense of trust within, and a sense of belonging to, the learning community students are less likely to be dishonest.  If they feel they lack the required skills or knowledge, they are more likely to approach the instructor and their learning community for help than they are to cheat.  If I know my students well and know what type of work they produce, I am better able to detect academic dishonesty—intentional or unintentional.  Furthermore, having a trusting relationship with my students (and they with me) puts us in a better position to not only detect dishonesty, but also to identify the underlying cause for the dishonesty—and perhaps work towards eliminating the cause.

Additional considerations to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism

For online courses that require proctored exams, perhaps institutions can arrange for students to take their tests at a testing center, with a live (vs. virtual) proctor present.

What I learned this week

This week’s learning resources have provided excellent strategies to minimize academic dishonesty.  I agree with (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006) conclusion that “expectation management strategy” along with “rigorous enforcement of academic integrity standards” can help minimize academic dishonesty.  I also believe however, just as there is dishonesty in other aspects of our society, [and becoming more sophisticated at that], so will be in academia.  As instructors (online or face-to-face), we need to manage it as best we could with the tools we have available.  Additionally (and more importantly) we need to model honest and professional behavior to our students and educate them on the true value of education; that it is much more than grades or diplomas—it is a profound personal development, and enlightening experience that will help them contribute to the betterment of society.

And on enlightenment, watch Dan Ariely on TED – on “Why We Think it’s OK to Cheat and Steal (sometimes) – Our Buggy Moral Code.”

Thank you,



Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and Cheating.