Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

This week we discussed plagiarism and cheating in the online classroom and how we could detect and prevent it. I was asked to answer the following questions and below you will find a synthesis of my thoughts on what I learned to help me implement effective strategies to prevent this in the future.

  • What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

There are many ways to detect plagiarism and cheating in an online course, Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006) state “two recent studies discussed above used commercially available technology to quantify rates of plagiarism. Braumoeller and Gaines (2001) made use of EVE (Essay Verification Engine) software, while Soto, Anand, and McGee (2004) used, an online detection service.”(p.5). Of these two software choices I have used Turnitin personally before both as a student and as an instructor. Turnitin is a great tool because it will view the student’s material and look for similarities in other students assignments as well as previously turned in assignments. The result is a percentage of similarity of the assignment turned in compared to other assignments. I usually do not look at any assignment with a 30% or lower rating. The one downfall with Turnitin is that it is mainly for writing assignments or tests with essays, if you use any form of simple answer question in the assignment with an essay the percentages will be skewed, however you will still have a read out of which statements were similar to others.


  • How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

One strategy proposed by Dr. Pratt is “the way I design every assignment, every project, and every exam, to where I do not care if they cheat or not” (Laureate). Dr. Paloff goes on to explain that he creates his assessments as collaborative items where the students area allowed to talk to one another or to use the book. This mimics real life because in a work environment you are expected to talk with others and research material to help solve that problem. Making an assessment open book does not mean it will be a walk in the park for the students; the test should present students with application style questions. This means that the students will not just regurgitate the book meaning for a word but instead they will be asked a question on how to use that idea in a work setting. This also allows for little cheating to take place because the way the question is designed makes the student use his or her knowledge of the subject in a specialized way.

  • What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

One strategy is to state your expectations of what is considered plagiarism and cheating. This will allow students to understand what you expect from them when referencing sources and citing materials. Also it is suggested to use a quiz or some form of assessment to help the students understand what plagiarism is, as Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006) states “we do believe that the expectation management strategy combined with detection and enforcement using emphasizes to students the importance of academic integrity” (p. 11).


  • What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

To help prevent cheating or plagiarism an instructor must remember that students may not understand that they are cheating, As Dr. Paloff states “part of my role as the instructor is to teach them fair use, copyright, plagiarism, all of that is” (Laureate). One way to do this is to talk to your schools librarian who generally is happy to help and have a wealth of knowledge. I know at the college I teach at I have the librarian come in during the first week of class and give a presentation over how to cite sources and material. This accomplishes two goals for the course, the first being that students learn or re-learn how to properly cite references and what it is to plagiarize. The second goal is that it allows me to have the understanding that the students are aware of plagiarism and if they do plagiarize in the future I know full well that they had a full understanding of what they were doing. While this is similar to the above mentioned quiz, I tend to use both the quiz and the presentation by the librarian in my course. I do this because the quiz helps the students understand what plagiarism is but the presentation allows them to ask questions and gain a deeper knowledge of when they are and are not plagiarizing. The two items seem to build upon each other.

After reading and watching the materials presented to me this week the one thing I think I learned the most was the fact that you can make assessments collaborative and therefore almost cheat proof. Dr. Pratt’s idea of have an open book collaboratively designed assessment was eye opening for me. I have seen these types of test in the past and always thought they were a waste of time. As I reevaluate these tests and hearing how Dr. Pratt states that in the real world you will not be given a task where you cannot actively search for help and understanding online or from your peers it helps me to realize the effectiveness of having an open book collaborative test. I think in the future I will consider using this form of assessment in my courses.


Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by Adult Learners Online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review Of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from


2 thoughts on “Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

  1. Daniel,

    Your entry is great! You found so many different software programs than I did. It just goes to show how many programs are out there. It occurred to me as I was writing my post that there are free plagiarism detection programs out there that students can use that will help them to be sure they are not plagiarizing. I feel that most plagiarism is an accident. Do you feel that way, as well?

  2. Rosa Gallardo says:

    Dr. Pratt does not care if students cheat or not (Laureate Education, 2010) because his assignments are designed for a collaborative approach that prepares students for real environments. He is correct in the sense of working in groups. But when you write and essay, paper, or research, you must follow cheat or plagiarism guidelines.
    I am not good on designing rubrics. If I need a rubric, I look for one on the Web. If it fits my assignment and the way I want to grade, I use it or make changes if I need. However, I am always concerned if it is correct to do it. In an online class, the professor suggested to use somebody else’s rubrics and refer the source. This is confirmed in the article Assess Learning Assignments with Rubrics (Glaser, & Haley, 2003). I have brought this up because TurnItIn may detect as plagiarism even though you has referred the source. I wonder how TurnItIn can discern information that can cause incorrect copy-paste detections.
    Glaser, K. & Haley, A. (2003). Assess Learning Assignments with Rubrics. Information for CMU Off-Campus Faculty II(I). Retrieved from
    Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from

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