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Plagiarism Detection

Turnitin

RIT provides institutional access to Turnitin's online service through both the myCourses Dropbox and directly through http://turnitin.com.  For more information, please visit our page on Turnitin.

 

Strategies for Detecting Plagiarism

If you suspect that a student may have plagiarized someone else's work there are several strategies you can use to help determine original authorship.

  1. Find out if the passage in question appears in a previously published source or website. Search tools you can use for this research include Google, Google Scholar, and Summon.  This method is effective for catching word-for-word or copy/paste instances of plagiarism.
  2. Ask the student to describe or demonstrate their research method. Did he or she use library research systems like Summon or one of the library's databases?  Did he or she consult a librarian or make use of any library InfoGuide?  These are considered best practices for information research.
  3. Request to see previous drafts of the student's writing, or require your students to submit multiple drafts of assignments so that you can see the development of their research and writing process.
  4. Determine whether the student understands proper paraphrasing techniques. The library's LIV@RIT online tutorial series provides useful definitions and examples.  Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) also has a highly recommended paraphrasing tutorial, though there are likely many more to be found on the web.
  5. Assess whether the student understands proper citation. Make your preferences for a particular citation style or format explicit in your assignment descriptions and syllabus.  Direct your students to the library's Citation Style Guides.

Cloze Procedure

Prior to the advent of online originality checking services such as Turnitin, the Cloze Procedure was proposed for plagiarism detection.  Under this method, a student was given a suspicious passage from his or her own paper with every fifth word redacted (beginning with the fifth word of the passage).  The student was then asked to fill-in as many redacted words as possible.  A 1986 study found  that "cloze performance was significantly better in nonplagiarizing than plagiarizing situations." [1]

For more information on using this method, please consult the following sources:

  • Glatt, B. S., & Haertel, E. H. (1982). The use of the cloze testing procedure for detecting plagiarism. The Journal of Experimental Education, 50(3), 127-136. doi:10.1080/00220973.1982.11011813
  • Standing, L., & Gorassini, D. (1986). An evaluation of the cloze procedure as a test for plagiarism. Teaching of Psychology, 13(3), 130-132. doi:10.1207/s15328023top1303_7
  • Torres, M., & Roig, M. (2005). The cloze procedure as a test of plagiarism: The influence of text readability. The Journal of Psychology, 139(3), 221-231. doi:10.3200/JRLP.139.3.221-232

 

Handling Violations

Course instructors are responsible for “assembling evidence” and making an “initial determination” of whether or not cheating, duplicate submission, or plagiarism has occurred.  If the instructor believes that a student is in violation of RIT’s policy, he or she is expected to follow the procedures outlined in RIT’s Governance Policy, Section D08.0: Student Academic Integrity Policy.

[1] Standing, L., & Gorassini, D. (1986). An evaluation of the cloze procedure as a test for plagiarism. Teaching of Psychology, 13(3), 130-132. doi:10.1207/s15328023top1303_7