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Plagiarism in the Social Sciences

Plagiarism in the Social Sciences

Gary A. Hoover Biography:

Gary A. Hoover is currently a Professor and the Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Hoover received his Ph.D. in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998. Since then he has published numerous scholarly research papers, book chapters, and reviews on areas of public policy and income redistribution. He is a leading scholar on academic misconduct, specifically plagiarism, in the economics profession and sits on the REPEC plagiarism committee. Hoover has given over 100 lectures on plagiarism around the world.

He has also been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin.  He has also been a guest professor at the University of Hannover and the University of Konstanz in Germany along with the University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria.

Plagiarism or Collaboration?

Is It Plagiarism or Collaboration?

a recent PEW research study found that while educators find technology beneficial in teaching writing skills, they feel it has also led to a direct increase in rates of plagiarism and infringement of intellectual property rights.

We want students to do “group work,” to collaborate, and to discuss. However, we have very specific realms in which we want this to happen: the group assignment, the in-class discussion, studying for exams, etc. At the same time, many of us want to put up barriers and halt any collaboration at other times (during assessments, for example). When collaboration takes place during assessment, we deem it plagiarism or cheating, and technology is often identified as the instrument that tempts students into such behavior.

A student may produce an entirely wrong answer, but if how they got there was through logic, reasonable assumption, educated guessing (not just plain old “guessing”) – and they were effective in communicating that process – then there is evidence of learning that I can take into account.

More on plagiarism, academic integrity and academic dishonesty in this IMS blog:


avoid plagiarism

Students’ Top Strategies for Avoiding Plagiarism

avoid plagiarism

more on plagiarism in this blog:

Additional ideas for students, from students

1. Be confident in your own skill and originality!

2. Take care when quoting or paraphrasing others’ ideas.

3. Ask for assistance. 

4. Check and re-check your work.

plagiarism and academic integrity

Posner, Kouwe, and Hegemann: old-school vs. new-school attitudes about plagiarism

Generation-Y literary remixing? or plagiarism?

I’ve typically come to the defense of Gen Y, to which I belong, when baby boomers and others accuse us of neglecting personal relationships in favor of social networking, or of growing so reliant on technology that we’re unable to operate an actual telephone book or read a paper map. I even make my living doing all kinds of Millennial-y things like blogging and writing for online publications. But I also went to a solid journalism school that instilled me with plenty of old-old-school values, many of which I don’t think are forgiving when it comes to lifting another person’s writing or insights without also admitting where you got them.

Evering L, Moorman G. Rethinking Plagiarism in the Digital Age. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy [serial online]. September 2012;56(1):35-44. Available from: EBSCO MegaFILE, Ipswich, MA. Accessed December 3, 2014.

The current concept of plagiarism is based on a capitalist view of property and ownership. It assumes that everything of value can be owned, bought, and sold and that ideas, knowledge, and art are created by individuals who have the rights of ownership. This view is deeply ingrained in Western culture.

Traditional definitions of plagiarism are further challenged by the digital revolution.

This situation has caused the current Millennial generation to see knowledge ownership, acquisition, and distribution in radically different terms than in previous generations. Clearly,
academia is past due in reevaluating the concept and how we deal with it in secondary and higher

Plagiarism and the Millennials

Plagiarism: can Turnitin solve it?…

Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software

excellent report by NPR on the advantages but also perils of computerizing/automation of a complex process, which requires prolonged education and discussions, rather then “yielding with a hammer.”

What is your take on how students can be educated to avoid plagiarism?
How academic dishonesty should be handled?

Please consider other IMS blog entries on plagiarism

What is plagiarism?

Martine Herzog-Evans

Follow Martine

What is plagiarism?

Law Professor at the University of Reims, FranceTop Contributor

A colleague of mine is asking us to organise a disciplinary commission for a student who, during a test (home test) quoted an author at great length. I disagree with his judgement. This in my opinion is youth caution (I’m not too sure about what I think so I protect myself with very long quotes). She did refer to the author in question and did not steal his ideas as her own. The risk for the student (who happens to be a very good one) is that she may lose the right to pass any national exam of any sort for x years. I intend to defend her at the disciplinary hearing as I happen to have supervised her for a research last year and am supervising her this year for another and know what she’s made of. The question to you all is : what constitutes plagiarism in your opinion and practice?



  • Shaun JamisonShaun

    Shaun Jamison

    Law Professor & Librarian

    @ Gregg, another clue is when they don’t bother to take out the hyperlinks from the original source they didn’t credit.

  • Gregg

    Gregg Etter

    Associate Professor at University of Central Missouri

    @Shawn. the sad part is if they would have credited the source it would have been research, not plagiarism!

  • John HainsJohn

    John Hains

    Associate Professor at Clemson University

    Gregg, I get the ‘lazy’ student part. How common is it for courses to be so redundant that a paper like this could be ‘re-cycled’?

  • Gregg

    Gregg Etter

    Associate Professor at University of Central Missouri

    @ John. That’s the point. The class I was teaching was policing in a democratic society. The paper was from a juvenile justice class that was taught by another professor. The content of the two courses does not match. It becomes real obvious when you get a re-cycled criminal law paper in a hate crimes or organized crime class. Some things will transfer and all knowledge is collective. However, in organized crime if you wanted to talk about criminal law, you might talk about the application of R.I.C.O., not Marbury v Madison or Estelle v. Gamble. A person wanting to apply the principles of juvenile justice might talk about the extended rights of a juvenile under Mirranda v. Arizona, not about juvenile holding facilities or juvenile courts.

  • Dr. Murphy NmeziDr. Murphy

    Dr. Murphy Nmezi

    Professor/Academic Mentor, Pathology/Pharmacology/Biostatistics

    Apropos Howard’s response to Mihail’s question:

    I once conducted an initial interview, in virtual space, to fill one of two biostatistics faculty positions that we had. And, it is important to note that success at this interview requires that the candidate be able to answer key questions in biostatistics analysis.

    With each question, (believe me, these are basic questions that anyone with an advanced degree in a related field should be able to answer), I could distinctly hear this individual “banging away” at the keyboard in search of the answer. Obviously, this candidate wasn’t prepared for the interview, nor did s/he possess the foundational knowledge that a degree holder in a field of study must have to succeed. Was it plagiarism or not?

    Perhaps, this candidate plagiarized his/her way through college and graduate school. Who knows? But, I can confidently bet my retirement that some of these jokers are slipping, undetected, through our educational system. I will also bet that this is happening, even to a greater extent, worldwide.

    Mihails Ņ. likes this

  • Harold KatcherHarold

    Harold Katcher

    Professor at University of Maryland

    John, I for one teach four classes, human biology, human health and disease (a watered-down patho-physiology course), the biology of aging and neuroscience. Someone could submit a paper say on Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, any of the dementias to any of these courses, a paper on atherosclerosis to three of them etc. But what is the point of writing the papers? To present their fellow students with new information (assuming they read it) or to give the student an opportunity to learn something new and demonstrate their comprehension? For me it’s mostly the latter, and allowing recycled papers doesn’t accomplish that.
    And Dr. Nmezi I totally agree with you – for everyone we catch, how many slip through undetected?
    Most countries in the world have constitutions that when examined closely, provide all the safeguards needed by a society – but in many places those laws are not upheld (for national security’s sake – a US excuse). So all’s I’m saying is uphold those rules that are in place – softening them may help those who otherwise might not be able to complete or compete successfully in a course or program, but you a hurting the society that expects that graduates of a program will be competent in what they do.

    Dr. Murphy N. likes this

  • John HainsJohn

    John Hains

    Associate Professor at Clemson University

    Harold, I guess I was thinking in terms of courses taught by different teachers. However, four of the five lecture courses I teach are strongly related and with that in mind, I make sure that I am in control of both the content and the assessment. So I make sure that if there is some overlap in content, I do not make an assignment which allows ‘recycling’. If someone has taken a similar course at another institution and ‘recycles’ a report, I have no way to detect that. So as far as I can tell I have never had a problem with this. But my assignments are structured so that they simply can’t support ‘recycling’.

how often quote


If you think it’s important to quote something, an excellent rule of thumb is that for every line you quote, you should have at least two lines analyzing it.


How to Cite Other Sources in Your Paper

DO NOT USE DIRECT QUOTES From Published Material: In 99.99% of the cases, the information you want from a research article is an objective result or interpretation. How the author stated this information, i.e., their prose, is of little importance compared to the results or interpretations themselves. Take the information and put it into your own words; avoid paraphrasing since this can potentially lead to plagiarism.


Purdue OWL

Writing direct quotations

  • Quote no more material than is necessary; if a short phrase from a source will suffice, don’t quote an entire paragraph
  • Use quotes that will have the most rhetorical, argumentative impact in your paper; too many direct quotes from sources may weaken your credibility, as though you have nothing to say yourself, and will certainly interfere with your style


parenthetical / in-text citations MLA

MLA 7 Basics: Parenthetical Citations

Effective Social Media Policy

Status update: How to have a strong and effective social media policy

Employment Update (Australia) y:Brett FelthamLauren Crossman

The top ten priorities for strong and effective social media policies should be:

explaining the risks that can arise through the use of social media and the reasons why having a policy is necessary;

clarifying the permitted uses of social media during work hours and/or using the employer’s resources. This will include when employees are allowed to access social media at work (if at all), when such access is permitted – for example, during an employee’s lunch hour or while the employee is on a break, or at any time – and what will be considered to be excessive use;

confirming that the policy applies in respect of social media use by an employee outside of work hours where that use impacts on the employer or the workplace, including by an employee publishing comments which are referable (whether directly or indirectly) to the employer, its products, other employees, customers, partners, suppliers or competitors;

clarifying prohibited uses of social media, such as an employee engaging in online conduct which may constitute unlawful discrimination, defamation, bullying or harassment. There needs to be careful consideration of how this part of the policy links to an employer’s other existing policies covering those issues. Consideration can also be given to requiring employees to inform their employer when they become aware of any potential breach of the policy by another employee – unlike in other jurisdictions, this concept of “dobbing in” a colleague can be difficult to promote in Australian workplaces;

confirming that social media use must be consistent with an employee’s obligations to comply with all applicable laws, including to not make any comment that may be misleading or deceptive in trade or commerce (in breach of Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)), and to not disclose any market sensitive information prior to disclosure by the employer (in breach of insider trading laws);

reminding employees of their obligations in respect of the employer’s confidential information and intellectual property, and privacy, copyright and plagiarism issues more generally;

where an employee is subject to a workplace investigation, in addition to requiring an employee to generally assist with that investigation, specifically directing an employee to preserve and not delete relevant social media content, and to provide their employer with reasonable access to that content for the purposes of the investigation;

specifically providing the employer the ability to direct an employee to remove or delete prohibited content;

expressly stating that breach of the policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment; and

directing an employee on how they can notify their online connections of their departure from their employer and their acceptance of a new role, and confirming that the inappropriate use of those social media connections can constitute a breach of any post-termination restrictions on soliciting clients.

Need Sample Social Media Policies? Here Are 7 to Inspire Yours

Formative Assessment Tools

Use these tech tools to boost engagement while also getting great feedback about what your students know.

March 26, 2014 Jeff Knutson
Infuse Learning
Infuse Learning is a tablet-based student response system for learning through conversation and collaboration. Teachers can build assessments and track students’ responses. The drawing-response tool (for sketches and diagrams) is a powerful feature here. Also, there’s native-language support for English learners. Read full review.
Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system. Teachers can create quizzes using content from the web. Questions appear on a class screen; without needing an account, students answer in real-time on a mobile device. Kahoot is different in that it creates an engaging competition. Students can also create their own quizzes and assessments. Read full review.
Socrative is a student response system with a variety of activities: quizzes, assessments, games, and even exit notes. Teachers control the flow of exercises; students respond in real time. It generates reports to help teachers track learning over time. Read full review.
Turnitin is mostly a tool for promoting originality in students’ writing (or catching plagiarism). However, it’s also a tool to support the writing process — from teacher feedback and grading to peer evaluation and review. There’s also a handy discussion forum feature, with built-in moderation. Read full review.
Poll Everywhere
Poll Everywhere isn’t just for schools, but works well as a classroom response system. Students can respond via text message, Twitter, or a Web browser; teachers can project the results on the Web, or in a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. Read full review.
TodaysMeet is a backchannel to help an audience and presenter connect in real time. Like a closed version of Twitter, posts are limited to 140 characters. Teachers can offer students a live stream for discussion, addressing issues on-the-spot, or as an after-lecture reflective activity. Read full review.
Backchannel Chat
Backchannel Chat is just for educational use. Students don’t have to enter any personal information into the system, and teachers can save, search, and archive discussions. Teachers also get a lot of control with customizable moderation options, a room-locking feature, and filtering for unwelcome content. Read full review.
is a student response system offering teachers more than a standard quiz/poll tool. The social Q&A feature allows students to vote the most relevant questions to the top, and a “Confusion Barometer” tool lets teachers track understanding throughout a lesson. Read full review.
Blendspace allows teachers to collect resources from the web and create a customizable, blended-instruction experience for students. Formative assessment tools are built in, allowing multiple question types, and the ability to track students’ progress over time. Read full review.
Collaborize Classroom
Collaborize Classroom allows teachers to create an online classroom community for learning — a home-base for online discussion forums, polls, assessments, and student-driven projects. There are differentiation tools and customized learning opportunities for individuals and small groups. Read full review.


Class Quiz Games with Quizizz (an Alternative to Kahoot)

Quizizz is an alternative to Kahoot, and there’s also a lot for educators to like. It is very similar to Kahoot, with a few key differences.

Just like Kahoot, the teacher (or student host) chooses a quiz to begin. A five digit game code is provided. Players point their browsers to and input the game code, along with their names. If players are using smartphones or tablets, I display the join link as a QR code.

Quizizz takes a different approach. No projector is necessary becauseplayers see questions and answer options on their own screens. The question order is randomized for each student, so it’s no easy for players to cheat. With Quizizz, players don’t have to wait for the whole class to answer a question before they continue to the next one.

So, Quizizz is player-paced while Kahoot’s pace is determined by the teacher or host. This is the major difference and can be a benefit or a drawback. If you want to pause after each question, then Kahoot is better. The class can stop and discuss after each question, immediately addressing misconceptions. With Quizizz, players zip through questions at their own pace, limiting all discussion to after all questions have been answered.

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