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3.4 How is Plagiarism Detected?

Consider this situation

You've decided to use Wikipedia to help you with a task on Cleopatra. You find out that 'Cleopatra' is Greek for 'father's glory,' and her full name, Cleopatra Thea Philopator, means 'the Goddess Cleopatra, the Beloved of Her Father.'
'Cleopatra VII of Egypt', Wikipedia,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleopatra

If you take this sentence and put it in Google, you will see how easy it is to locate its source and to detect plagiarism.

How is plagiarism detected?

It is easier to detect plagiarism than many people think. Sometimes it's obvious:

  • through lack of citation
  • through lack of bibliographic depth
  • through changes in the tone of writing
  • if you've never written like this before
  • if assessment tasks are very different in quality from supervised work.

Teachers may:

  • check your reference list
  • search online for suspected plagiarism
  • ask questions about your research to confirm that you have the indicated level of knowledge.

Teachers are usually experts in their subject matter and very likely will have used the same sources as you when setting the assessment task. They will be aware of the sources you use.

Plagiarism is obvious when two assignments submitted are either identical or very similar to each other.

In some schools, teachers check students work using plagiarism detection software, such as Turnitin. This is particularly useful in checking for cases of collusion between students.

Schools may also:

  • ask students to submit early drafts and process diaries to support a final product
  • focus on in-class writing instead of project work
  • have students do oral tasks to confirm that the work submitted is their own.

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