Detecting Plagiarism

Detecting Plagiarism

We offer a handout for your students on avoiding plagiarism, click here (PDF) or you can visit the Student Learning Services page for more information.

1. What is the MRU definition of plagiarism?

In the Student Code of Conduct plagiarism is said to have occurred when a student submits:

  • the words, ideas, images or data of any other person as his/her own in any academic work which is a component of a course or program of study at Mount Royal;
  • information or data which have been altered or contrived in any way that is intended to mislead; and/or
  • work which includes misleading references to material or references that do not accurately reflect the sources used by the individual.

2. Preventing plagiarism in your class

What you can do to make plagiarism less likely in your classroom (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003):

  1. Support the research and writing process. Build activities, such as peer review and submission of early drafts, into the class structure.
  2. State it in writing. Policies and expectations for documenting sources and avoiding plagiarism should be provided to students in writing.
  3. Create original assignments. This reduces the likelihood that stock papers on the topic will be available on the internet.
  4. Teach students proper citation methods. Ensure that students understand proper methods of citation.
  5. Discuss the challenges. Discuss the particular challenges involved with writing and citation and suggest strategies for students to overcome them.
  6. Engage students suspected of plagiarism. Meet with students who are suspected of plagiarism to determine whether the misuse of sources was intentional.

3. Identifying potential sources of plagiarised material

If you suspect that plagiarism has occurred try searching for the source of the plagiarised material. Try searching the web, the library's electronic resources and the catalogue.

Search the web

Try using a search engine to search for a suspect phrase (to search for the exact phrase enclose it in quotation marks or try Google's Advanced Search).

Note: Search engines do not necessarily search all potential sources of plagiarised material. They may, for example, not search some paper mills or the electronic databases subscribed to by the MRU library.

Search the library catalogue for items in the bibliography

Try searching the MRU library catalogue for items listed in the paper's bibliography or reference list. If the item is not available through the MRU library this may be an indicator that this work is not original. In this case you will want to have a discussion with your student about how they obtained the material.

Search the library's other electronic resources

The library's Find More page lists hundreds of databases, encylopedias and dictionaries. A search on Google will not necessarily search these information sources.

Tip: When searching the databases you will want to search the full-text of the documents. Most databases allow you to select this option. The following are examples of how to do this using two of the library's most commonly used databases:

  • in EBSCO's Academic Search Complete click on Search Options then place a check in the box next to Also search within the full text of articles.
  • in Proquest's Research Library select More Search Options and then change the pull down menu next to Look for terms in from Citations and abstract to Citation and document text.

4. How can the library help?

  • Library instruction sessions. Have students attend a library session. Librarians can include discussion of the importance of proper citation techniques and provide students with tips on correctly incorporating research into their work.
  • Citation information. Citation information, including custom MRU handouts are available on the Library’s Cite Sources page.
  • Get assistance tracking down potentially plagiarised information. Librarians are available to help instructors search for original sources of information if plagiarism is suspected. Contact your subject librarian.
  • Get help plagiarism-proofing your assignments. Your liaison librarian can help you develop assignments that make plagiarism less viable, like asking for bibliographies in advance, starting with annotated bibliographies, and recommending topics that are less likely to have ready-made papers available.

Other links for Faculty

Links to refer students to: