According to a new research study, exposing students to an educational tutorial about what constitutes plagiarism and how to prevent it is an effective mechanism for reducing student plagiarism. The study divided hundreds of students into two groups. he first group of students received no special instructions or information about plagiarism. Students in other randomly selected courses, however, were required to take a short online tutorial on plagiarism and were required to complete the exercise before they could hand in any papers. The results indicated that the students who were exposed to the online tutorial showed significant improvement in reducing the occurrence of plagiarism, especially among students with low SAT scores who typically are most likely to plagiarize.
These findings suggest that faculty concerned about student plagiarism should consider preventive educational approaches over enforcement approaches (e.g., using detection software to catch plagiarizers). While enforcement approaches may be effective at catching or detecting plagiarizers, they do little to attack the root causes of plagiarism. One of the challenges for students is not realizing they have access to tools that can help them to avoid plagiariasm and that can help them create and gather proper citations. Temple University librarians have expertise with tools such as RefWorks, a personal bibliographic software that is free to all Temple faculty and students, that can help students to better manage the citations they collect for their research project – and assist in integrating those citations into a research paper. Librarians can also show faculty the many research databases that enable students to create citations while doing their research. Consult our list of subject specialists to contact the librarian that serves your department.