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Preventing and Detecting Plagiarism

LIU Post Academic Conduct Site


Ethics in the Information Age

Plagiarism Defined

Anatomy of a Citation

Citation Style for Research Papers

Starting Your Research

Preventing and Detecting Plagiarism:
Tips for Faculty

Some Reasons for Plagiarism:


  • Chalk Talk in the Classroom
    • Syllabus - define meaning of Plagiarism, Intellectual Property, Academic Integrity
    • Academic Dishonest Policy - explain school’s and yours
    • Plagiarism - create a debate
    • Skills - offer research tips
    • Sources - talk about the advantages of citing sources
    • Examples - offer examples of some repercussions (see "Plagiarism in the News" from Our Lady of the Lake University)

  • Design Creative Assignments
    • Assign - varied, specific, and clear assignments
    • Add - analysis and criticism component
    • Give - smaller research projects
    • Coordinate - due date with length of assignments
    • Require - assignments orally, written, and electronically

  • Monitor Research
    • Be aware of your students' capabilities and writing styles (assign an on the spot writing exercise - a brief writing assignment is an effective way of becoming familiar with each student's style)
    • Monitor your students work which will include checking the progress of research step by step
    • Approve topic/thesis statement
    • Require current sources
    • Specify type of sources and citation style
    • Request a copy of the bibliography (or annotation of sources)
    • Offer guidance and be available (this will be time consuming, especially with a big class, but in the end, this can be beneficial

  • Provide referral

On Detecting:

Detecting plagiarism can be time consuming, so allow sufficient time to mark research papers and verify questions surrounding unethical practices such as plagiarism. Therefore be cognizant and set some extra time aside before grades are due.

  1. Be familiar with students' writing styles and abilities.
    • Does the writing style "contain complex or specialized vocabulary" that might be used by scholars in the field?

  2. Look for inconsistencies in:
    • Quality of Writing - does the writing go from poor to excellent or vice versa?
    • Formatting - does the layout of assignment change as well as the formatting?

      1. Font Size: Is the lettering all the same size?

        ...As instructors, teaching and non-teaching, we need to be conscious of our students, assignments, and how we teach. Polls from other neighboring universities along with various inquires from some teaching faculty here at LIU have indicated that the Internet...

        Example of three different font sizes within one paragraph.

      2. Font Style: Does the choice of fonts change for no reason?

        ...Electronic Plagiarism is altering the way we teach, learn, and gather information for research. In the academic world, the roles and responsibilities of everyone, professionals and non-professionals, have changed primarily because of the simple truth is that it is easier for students to plagiarize from the web than to research and write a paper on their own

        Example of three different font styles: Arial, Times New Roman, and Courier.

      3. Page Numbering: Are there multiple page numbers on a single page?

        ...the 1960s were a decade of abortion reform. During this period states began to liberalize their abortion laws, primarily in response to pressure by a variety of interest groups including associations of medical professionals...



        Example of two sets of page numbers on a single page: "-5-" is the actual page number that the student typed in, and "3" is an example of a page number that was inadvertently copied when the student did a cut and paste from the web.

      4. Web URLs: Are there addresses of websites that begin with "www." or "http://"? Be wary of the placement of web addresses (URLs) when they appear at the top or bottom of students' assignments. Sometimes when students plagiarize from the Internet, they also unknowingly lift web addresses that then become part of their finished papers.

        signed into law the nation's most liberal abortion law, which essentially provided for abortion on demand. Yet by 1972 many states still banned most abortions"

        Questia Media America, Inc. http://www.questia.com/

        Example of a web address that is present on a page of a student's assignment without the student's knowledge.

      5. Embedded Hyperlinks: Does the paper contain underlined links that look like they would lead to a website?


        Page 4 of 5

        ...more than 12 million jobs are tied to these exports, including 1 in 5 in the manufacturing sector.(5) In rural areas, crops grown on one of every three acres planted by U.S. farmers are also destined for overseas markets...

        Example of an embedded hyperlink: "(5)".

      6. Spelling: Are there inconsistencies with the spelling in the text that go from American spellings of words to British? (Caution: Consider the student's nationality. Students from a British country, Commonwealth nation, dependent territory, or other place where the British custom is observed might forget and mix spellings.)

        ...revered by many because they accepted all people as brothers and sisters regardless of race, religion and colour or memorise

        ...two favourite match memories are firstly the Challenge Cup Semi-Final versus Morton, as Craig says...

        Example of some British spelled words within an assignment where most of the words use American spelling.

        Some websites with lists of American and British words:

  3. Research topic does not match up fully with the required assignment, class work, and lecture.

  4. Assignment is incomplete

  5. Bibliography and References
    • Is it current?
    • Is it complete?
    • Is it readily available locally?

Suspicious: what do I do?

  1. Highlight the "questionable text": Think about the source of this possible source of this questionable material. Does it look like it comes from one or more of the following: web, hidden or invisible web, books, journals, databases, paper mills.

  2. Search the web: Use one or more of the many Internet Search Engines available. Find some on our Library Homepage under Internet Resources - Search Engines.
    • Read the help screens for the one you choose. They all use different search protocols.
    • Try more than one search engine. They are all designed differently and can be searched more efficiently using their terminology and protocols. Results may vary from one to another.
      For example, if you choose to search Google, enclose the questionable text, line, or paragraph in quotation marks:

      "In George Elliot's lifetime England went through a series of tumultuous cultural, social, and economic changes. By the time that she wrote Silas Marner in 1861, the moderately industrial, though primarily rural, Britain of her youth had completely vanished, and the Britain of her parents' youth only lingered like a partially forgotten reverie in her mind."

      The search reveals that this text comes from the website: http://mural.uv.es/enritor/silas.html

  3. Search the Hidden or Invisible Web: Most of what is available on the Internet is password protected or fee-based.
    • To access additional resources, use your LIU username and password to search the Library's subscription-based online databases
    • Click on Online Databases at the Library homepage, and choose a category or subject that applies to the topic. Remember to look under General for the interdisciplinary databases that are more general in nature.

  4. Trust your expertise of the subject matter.

  5. Consult a Reference Librarian: They are subject specialists and can assist in searching for information on your subject or choose the appropriate database. Contact them at extension 2305.

  6. Use a Plagiarism Detection Service such as SafeAssign, a new component of LIU's Blackboard course management system. It compares submitted student papers against a database of websites, journal articles, and other student papers to determine which passages, if any, have been plagiarized and from which sources. Faculty may contact Tricia Hinchman in the Information Technology Resource Center for more information on this plagiarism module.

  7. Consult student: the student has valuable information.
    • Approach - calmly make appointment with student
    • Communicate - converse and listen
    • Inquire - ask student to explain questionable information
    • Require - a short on spot summary (verbally or written)
    • Request - a copy of the sources

When plagiarism is suspected, consider that the plagiarism can be:

  • Unintentional:
    • Offer some help on the writing process (note-taking, compiling a bibliography, citing sources)
    • Refer writing center
    • Recommend some writing classes

  • Intentional:


  • Purdue University. OWL: Online Writing Lab.

  • Harris, Robert. (2004). Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers. VirtualSalt.

  • Lathrop, Ann. (2000). Student Cheating and Plagiarism in the Internet Era : a Wake-Up Call. Colorado: Libraries Unlimited. (Call Number: LB3609.L28 2000)

  • Lipson, Charles (2004). Doing honest work in college: how to prepare citations, avoid plagiarism, and achieve real academic success. University of Chicago Press. Call Number PN171.F56 L5 2004

  • Whitley, Bernard E. & Keith-Spiegel, Patricia. (2002). Academic Dishonesty: an Educator's Guide. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (Call Number: LB3609.W45 2002)

Amrita Madray
Updated November 2012

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