Let’s Talk about Plagiarism

Amy Sexton, Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor

Plagiarism is a topic that many educators understand well as it is often explained and defined in institutions and universities’ plagiarism polices.  At Kaplan University, for example, plagiarism is defined in the following ways:

  1. Using another person’s words, ideas, results, or images without giving appropriate credit to that person; giving the impression that it is your own work
  2. Copying work, written text, or images from a student, the Internet, or any document without giving due credit to the source of the information
  3. Purchasing or contracting another person or company to complete coursework, including obtaining a paper off the Internet, from a term paper company, or from another student, and submitting it as your original work. (Kaplan University, 2014)
(c) 2015 Clipart.com

(c) 2015 Clipart.com

While plagiarism may be easily defined by educators, it is often much more difficult for students to understand.  It can be intentional or unintentional, and students may consciously or unconsciously commit plagiarism for a variety of reasons, including confusion, lack of research skills, inability to use APA or other citation styles, poor time management, and more.   With this in mind, our Writing Center tutors look for different ways to talk to students about plagiarism.  One avenue that offers a unique chance to explore plagiarism through a variety of perspectives is our live workshops.  These interactive workshops are offered monthly and archived for students to view at their leisure.   Below are some of the ways that we have approached plagiarism issues in the past few months.

Research Writing Basics – Sloppy research often leads to plagiarism, so in this workshop, writing tutor Kyle talks about the basics of research writing, including how students can identify quality sources and successfully integrate source material into their writing to avoid plagiarism.

Five Simple Tips for Avoiding Plagiarism – This workshop offers five easy ideas that students can use to help avoid plagiarizing in their writing.   These tips, shared by writing tutor Chrissine, include knowing when to cite, knowing how to cite using APA Style, recognizing effective paraphrasing, matching in-text citations to references (and vice versa), and remembering the 80/20 principle, or the idea that around 80% of a student’s paper should be his or her own thoughts, words, interpretation, or analysis, while 20% should be source material.

How to Prevent Accidental Plagiarism  – We recognize that plagiarism is often accidental, but we also realize that accidental plagiarism is still plagiarism.  This workshop with KUWC tutor Molly discusses how students can specifically prevent accidental plagiarism, including understanding the purpose of research sources, beginning research early in the writing process, and using effective note-taking strategies.

Practical Steps to Preventing Plagiarism – This presentation hosted by tutor Molly discusses how to recognize plagiarism, offers practical steps for plagiarism prevention, and connects those steps to the reading and writing processes.  In this workshop, Molly suggests that students use note-taking as a pre-writing strategy in order to keep track of their own perspective and record bibliographic information throughout the research process in order to correctly cite borrowed material when composing original assignments.

Secrets to Avoiding Plagiarism:  Paraphrasing – Since plagiarism often results from ineffective paraphrasing, or patch-writing, this workshop with tutor Molly demonstrates and teaches students the basics of effective paraphrasing and gives students the opportunity to practice successful paraphrasing.

These are just a few of the ways that our writing center tutors have talked about plagiarism in our live, monthly workshops over the past several months.  Other archived workshop topics include Integrating Quotes into Your Writing, Top 10 Plagiarism Mistakes, and Writing with Ease:  Paraphrase and Summary.  What are some ways that you talk about plagiarism with your students?



Kaplan University.  (2014). Academic integrity policy.  Retrieved from http://catalog.kaplanuniversity.edu/Academic_Integrity_Policy.aspx

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