Prevent Plagiarism with Creative Assignments:
Ideas for Faculty
1. Have students include an annotated bibliography instead of the traditional list of sources. This could be required early in the semester to ensure that they actually start researching and reading early.
2. Require photocopies of references with relevant sections highlighted.
3. Have students present their papers orally, answer questions, defend their positions.
4. Assign papers shorter than 6 pages (6 being the minimum for most paper mills).
5. Require a certain number of recent references restricted to holdings in the university library system.
6. Require students to relate their topic to one or more specific sources--a particular article, what was discussed in class or in the textbook, etc.
7. After the paper is turned in, have a one-on-one conference in your office with the student to ask questions about different aspects of the paper. "What did you mean by...?"
8. Have students write an essay to answer these kinds of questions: What did you learn from the assignment? What problems did you face and how did you overcome them? What research strategy did you follow? Where did you locate most of your sources? What is the most important thing you learned from investigating this subject? (Harris) What part of the project are you most proud of? This could be:
Written in class on the day they turn in their papers
Turned in with the paper
E-mailed to you throughout the semester as they work on the assignment.
9. Stagger due dates for different parts of the paper--assign the paper as a process. Require the paper to be formed through a series of small steps at weekly or biweekly intervals.
10. Have students read each other's drafts.
11. Require a research log -- what search engines were used, what journal indexes, what librarians were consulted, what reference works were used---with a note about what was helpful and what wasn't. This could be turned in with the paper or with each piece of the process.
12. Have students create a "person-noting" page acknowledging all persons who provided any type of assistance.
13. Require a component in the paper consisting of a personal experience, a survey, or a transcript of an interview.
14. Include a question on the final exam that asks students to summarize the main points of their research papers.
15. Require students to hand in notes or outlines with their papers.
16. If students are interested in their topics, they will be more likely to do the research themselves.
17. At the beginning of the process, set up a work session in the library--have a reference librarian talk to the class about the best sources for their topics and provide time for students to begin gathering information. In addition to getting them started, the librarian becomes a familiar resource for them to contact in the future.
18. Have students turn in printouts from database searches as an early step. Ask a librarian to look over them and help you evaluate the effectiveness of students' research strategies. (Stilling)
19. Keep a writing portfolio of each student's past written assignments for comparison; or at the beginning of the term have students write one page in class to get evidence of writing level for future.
20. Do not allow students to change topics at the last minute.
21. Change topics each semester.
Topic and assignment ideas to eliminate paper mill use:
1. Write about local issues.
2. Assign various sides of an issue to students in the class. Then have them debate it when they turn in the papers.
3. Research very narrow topics or an unusual combination of topics.
4. Provide a list of topics. Change it every year.
5. Ask students to write about current events as they relate to class materials.
6. Choose a past event and trace how it was covered in the various types of media (news, newspapers, magazines, journals, etc.)
7. Have students compare media coverage of two similar events. e.g. Assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. Could be inventions, scientific or medical discoveries, etc.
8. Trace the coverage of an event in old newspapers and compare with what is known about the event today.
9. Make the assignment an interview with a leading figure of the time. Students would research the person, write up an introduction, compose 10 questions to ask the person, and write out what they think the person would have said in response.
10. Have students select a primary source document such as a diary and write about its author, historical context, identify/explain unfamiliar terms, customs, etc. The library has collections of many primary source materials. Any of the reference librarians can help you.
11. Assign a multimedia presentation rather than a straight term paper.
12. Have students write a diary as if they were participants in a historical event.
13. Require comparison of two viewpoints or documents on the same issue.
14. Have the student adopt the point of view of an historical character.
15. Have students compare a scholarly journal article, a magazine article, a newspaper article, and a Web site on the same topic.
16. Have students write a newspaper story describing an event.
17. Have students write an editorial or opinion piece. It could be in historical context.
18. Compare journal articles with conservative vs. liberal tendencies.
19. Using bibliographies, guides to the literature and the Web, ask students to find primary sources on an issue or event, and write about them.
20. Interview older family members about their earlier life; research that time period and weave personal material with background. Use newspapers and magazines of the time to see what information the person was receiving.
21. Have students write an extensive obituary (as in the New York Times) for a person who is still alive.
22. Students choose (or are assigned) a scholar/researcher. Explore that person's career and ideas by locating biographical information, preparing a bibliography of his/her writings, analyzing the reaction of the scholarly community to the researcher's work, and examining the scholarly network in which s/he works. (Sexty)
23. Read the articles cited in a research paper. Explain how each is related to the paper. In what circumstances is it appropriate to cite other papers? What different purposes do the citations serve? (Sexty)
24. Examine the treatment of a controversial issue in several sources (newspaper editorial, scholarly journal, journals from different disciplines, etc.) (Sexty)
25. Ask each student to describe a career they envision themselves in and then research the career choice. What are the leading companies in that area? Why? (If they choose something generic like marketing, what is the best company in their county of residence to work for? Why?) If the company is graded publicly, what is its net worth? What is the outlook for this occupation? Expected starting salary? How do the outlook and salaries vary by geography? (Ricigliano)
Assignment design strategies. Dalhousie Libraries. http://www.library.dal.ca/how/assignment.htm
Collins, Terry. Strategies for preventing plagiarism. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. http://cisw.cla.umn.edu/plagiarism/faculty/strategies.html
Harris, Robert. Anti-plagiarism strategies for research papers. Virtual Salt. http://www.virtualsalt.com/antiplag.htm
Kemmerer, Kathleen. Techniques for encouraging academic integrity. Penn State-Hazelton. http://www.hn.psu.edu/faculty/kkemmerer/acadintegrity/ac-integ.htm
List of assignments which can help prevent plagiarism. Dalhousie Libraries. http://www.library.dal.ca/how/assignexamples.htm
Preventing plagiarism. Montgomery College. http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/library/preventingplagiarism.pdf
Preventing plagiarism. University of Alberta Libraries. http://www.library.ualberta.ca/guides/plagiarism/preventing/
Preventing plagiarism in student writing. Psychology Writing Center, University of Washington. http://depts.washington.edu/psywc/handouts/pdf/facplag.pdf
Ricigliano, Lori. Ideas for Library Related Assignments. University of Puget Sound. http://library.ups.edu/instruct/assign.htm
Sexty, Suzanne. Ideas for library/information assignments. Memorial University of Newfoundland Libraries. http://www.mun.ca/library/research_help/qeii/assignment_ideas.html
Stilling, Glenn Ellen Starr. Beyond the research paper: Working with faculty to maximize library-related assignments. In: Integrating Information Literacy into the College Experience. Pierian Press, 2003.