Perhaps the most effective discussion will ask the students tothinkabout who is really being cheated when someone plagiarizes. Copyingpapers or even parts of papers short circuits a number of learningexperiencesand opportunities for the development of skills: actually doing theworkof the research paper rather than counterfeiting it gives the studentnotonly knowledge of the subject and insights into the world ofinformationand controversy, but improves research skills, thinking and analyzing,organizing, writing, planning and time management, and evenmeticulousness(those picky citation styles actually help improve one's attention todetail). All this is missed when the paper is faked, and it is these missedskillswhich will be of high value in the working world. A degreewill helpstudents get a first job, but performance--using the skills developedbydoing just such assignments as research papers--will be required forpromotion.
5. Make the penalties clear. If aninstitutional policy exists,quote it in your syllabus. If you have your own policy, specify thepenaltiesinvolved. For example, "Cheating on a paper will result in an F on thatpaper with no possibility of a makeup. A second act of cheating willresultin an F in the course regardless of the student's gradeotherwise." Ifyou teach at a university where the penalty for plagiarism is dismissalfrom the university or being reported to the Academic Dean or Dean ofStudents,you should make that clear as well. Even the penalties can bepresentedin a positive light. Penalties exist to reassure honeststudentsthat their efforts are respected and valued, so much so that those whowould escape the work by fakery will be punished substantially. Note:There are always a few students who will be caught plagiarizing andthen claim that no one cared or told them. When you point to thesection in your syllabus, they will say, "I thought it was a genericsyllabus so I didn't read it." The better idea, then, is to read theappropriate places from the syllabus to the class at the first meeting.
The rough draft serves several functions. A quickglance willreveal whether whole sections are appearing without citations. At thedraftstage, you have the opportunity to educate the student further anddiscusshow proper citation works. You can also mark places and ask for moreresearchmaterial to be incorporated. If you are suspicious of the paper at thispoint, ask for the incorporation of some specific material that youname,such as a particular book or article. Keep the drafts and letstudentsknow that you expect major revisions and improvements between drafts.(Thisis actually a great way to improve students' writing, quite apart fromthe other goal of preventing plagairism.)
4. Require process steps for the paper. Seta series ofdue dates throughout the term for the various steps of the researchpaperprocess: topic or problem, preliminary bibliography, prospectus,researchmaterial (annotated photocopies of articles, for example), outline,roughdraft, final annotated bibliography, final draft. Some of these partscanbe reverse engineered by the determined cheater, but most studentsshouldrealize that doing the assignment honestly is easier than thealternative.
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This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.
Summary: This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, a student will find that she can achieve great things through her research and writing.
3. Require specific components in the paper.For example, "Thepaper must make use of two Internet sources, two printed book sources,two printed journal sources, one personal interview, and one personallyconducted survey." Or, "You must make use of Wells' article on'IntelligentDesign Principles,' and some material from either the Jones or Smithbook."Or, "Include a graph which represents the data discussed in the firstsection." Requirements that will strongly inhibit the use of a copied paperincludethese:
Many students have been caught by simple questions like, "Whatexactlydo you mean here by 'dynamic equivalence'?" Few students use words theycannot pronounce, so having them read some of the paper aloud can beinterestingas well (although you may be merely exposing the mindless use of athesaurus).If you suspect a student has copied a whole paper, complete withcitations,asking about the sources can be useful. "Where did you find the articleby Edwards? It sounds fascinating. Can you bring me a copy atthenext meeting?" Or, "This quotation seems slightly out of context. Whatwas Follet's main point in the chapter?"
The availability of textual material in electronic format hasmade plagiarismeasier than ever. Copying and pasting of paragraphs or evenentireessays now can be performed with just a few mouse clicks. Thestrategiesdiscussed here can be used to combat what some believe is an increasingamount of plagiarism on research papers and other student writing. Byemploying these strategies,you can help encourage students to value the assignment and to do theirown work.