Avoiding Plagiarism

The UW-Madison Libraries can help encourage academic honesty. The resources on this site can assist with discouraging plagiarism, approaching the topic in the classroom, assignment development, and more.

Instructor Tips

Plagiarism can be hard to detect once it has happened. Prevention can be easier.  Here are some ideas for discouraging plagiarism:

  • Scaffold assignment design
    • Have students hand in draft(s) before the final version is due
    • Create preliminary assignment(s) that require students to report progress or to cite sources (e.g., annotated bibliographies, outlines, etc.)
    • Incorporate a peer review process into the assignment
  • Include information about plagiarism in your syllabus and assignments:
    • Give definitions and examples of plagiarism
    • Indicate why plagiarism is unacceptable including the ethics, missed learning opportunity, and and future expectations from employers
    • Inform students of campus policies regarding plagiarism and academic misconduct
  • Don’t assume it was intentional:
    • Some students may come from backgrounds where academic integrity has not been discussed or emphasized. They may not understand what plagiarism is or how they can prevent themselves from engaging in it
    • Treat it as a learning opportunity to discuss issues related to authorship, ownership, how knowledge is created and contextualized in academic discourse.
  • Finally, be positive!
    • Stress the positive value of intellectual property in scholarly communication, rather than focusing solely on the negativity of plagiarism.