Some students begin their post-secondary education with substantial experience in conducting research and properly citing sources while other students are less familiar with established research practices. At the college level, policies regarding citations, using sources, and avoiding plagiarism vary from course to course. Teaching your students how to handle research within your course will help set them up for success in your course, regardless of your students’ background in research. Below, we detail several services and tools that you can incorporate into your teaching to help students recognize and avoid plagiarism.
Campus Writing Program and Writing Tutorial Services
The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning’s Campus Writing Program offers assistance to instructors as they incorporate writing into their courses and to students as they develop their writing. Regardless of your discipline, the consultants in our Campus Writing Program can assist you with formulating, administering, and evaluating written assessments–including essay exams and writing assignments. To request a consultation and develop a plan for teaching your students about plagiarism and citations, contact the CITL.
Writing Tutorial Services (WTS) tutors are undergraduate and graduate students trained to work one-on-one with writers at any stage of the writing process–from brainstorming to reviewing a nearly-final draft. Each tutor’s toolbox includes knowledge and resources on avoiding plagiarism and how to incorporate paraphrasing. At WTS in Wells Library, students can consult physical copies of style guides and manuals. We recommend sharing information about Writing Tutorial Services with your students before they embark on their writing assignment(s) for your course. To learn more about WTS or to schedule an appointment with a tutor, visit the Writing Tutorial Services website.
IU Libraries Research Guides
The Indiana University Libraries boasts a large collection of online Research Guides created by IU librarians. The Expert Research Help guide has information on all aspects of academic research and includes a section on citing sources. As noted in the guide, citations derived from online citation generators should be checked for accuracy using a style guide. Students may find that by creating citations themselves, they develop beneficial citation habits and enhance their ability to recognize correct citations in others’ writing. Students can also get research and citation assistance from IU library staff in the Scholars’ Commons.
Turnitin Plagiarism Framework
The Turnitin Plagiarism Framework integration in Canvas is a great tool for teaching students how to spot citation issues. Each student’s assignment is automatically processed through Turnitin upon submission, resulting in a Similarity Report. The Similarity Report offers a detailed view of instances in which text from your student’s submission overlaps with text from published works, a wide array of online resources, and Turnitin’s vast repository of previous submissions. Turnitin calculates the percentage of your student’s submission that overlaps with other texts and displays that percentage in SpeedGrader. The percentage links to the full Similarity Report.
Please note that text that has been correctly cited could still be flagged as overlapping text, thus inflating the overlap percentage in SpeedGrader. The overlap percentage and Similarity Report are tools for pointing out possible citation infractions and areas of improvement in paraphrasing. You will need to review the Similarity Report to determine the reason for the matches–plagiarism or proper quotations. If you would like help with interpreting Similarity Reports, contact the CITL.
Incorporating Turnitin into draft revisions
If you utilize the Turnitin Plagiarism Framework to process your students’ assignment drafts, you may use the Similarity Reports to inform your teaching in different ways. Trends in the overlapping texts may indicate that students need guidance on specific citation practices. For example, if many of the Similarity Reports show overlap with texts from academic journals, your students might benefit from instruction or resources on how to cite journal articles. Multiple misguided attempts at paraphrasing source texts presents an opportunity to expand students’ understanding of what paraphrasing is and how to do it correctly.
You may also consider allowing your students to view their respective Similarity Reports. Reviewing the Similarity Reports can give students a chance to better understand what is required of them in terms of responsible use of source materials. You can opt to let each student see their report immediately after their submission is processed by Turnitin, or you can delay access to the report until a later time. Your students will require guidance on interpreting their Similarity Reports. The IU Knowledge Base has information for instructors and students on using Turnitin through the Plagiarism Framework.
When to enable Turnitin in Canvas
To ensure that each submission passes through the Turnitin system, enable the Turnitin Plagiarism Framework and adjust the tool’s settings before students have submitted their work. Once enabled, Turnitin will not retroactively process previously-submitted work. If you forget to enable Turnitin in Canvas and wish to run submissions through the system, contact the CITL and we will help you secure a Turnitin web account. CITL consultants can also help you with interpreting Similarity Reports from Turnitin.
Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests
The School of Education’s Plagiarism Tutorials and Tests website functions as a mini-course. The tutorials and Certification Tests are regularly updated, data-driven, and free to the public. Users gain a deep understanding of how to recognize and avoid plagiarism by completing a set of structured tutorials. The tutorials are arranged by level of difficulty. Each tutorial includes captioned instructional videos, short written reflections, and multiple-choice practice tests with automated feedback on answers. If your course involves a large amount of writing, you may consider incorporating some or all of the plagiarism tutorials into your curriculum or promoting the site to your students as a recommended resource.
The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) is a free public reference on citation practices in a range of styles, including those specific to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. For each of the most common styles–MLA, APA, and Chicago–the OWL provides an overview of the style, a comprehensive guide to citing resources, and sample papers formatted according to the style’s standards. The site is designed to be accessible for visitors using adaptive technologies. Consider sharing the Purdue OWL with your students as an easily accessible online guide for citations.
If you have any formal writing assignments in your class, you can play an important role in helping students develop the skills for proper use and citation of sources. For assistance in learning how to use the resources and approaches above in your individual course, contact the CITL to arrange a consultation.