Question of the day – Anti-plagiarism activities

Here’s a question from Sarah Ghoshal that I thought could be of interest for everyone:

“Does anyone have a good plagiarism quiz or activities to do in class? I want to really spend a day on this coming up with my 100 students.”

Suggestions and comments below, please.

8 thoughts on “Question of the day – Anti-plagiarism activities

  1. Personally, besides covering plagiarism and addressing the questions students tend to have (esp. in 105), something I always do is share a number of humorous anecdotes about ways in which people I know of plagiarized and were caught.

    I usually start with the stories since it gets a laugh from students and slightly alleviates the stress about the big scary subject, makes them more willing (and gives them some material about which) to ask questions, and also illustrates how easy it is to get caught. Since I’m always happy to use a little good-natured shame for pedagogical reasons, I tell them, “Don’t end up being the funny story that I tell my next class!”

  2. Julie Dalley shared these links:
    The Purdue OWL has a list of course exercises that are good/can be adapted:

    I’ve used these two pretty successfully (in that students could understand contexts and consequences):

    I also have some other great suggestions from people who emailed me back. I will ask them if I can share here. 🙂

  3. On my own, I usually address plagiarism by telling them, truly, they are better than that. Why are some random guy’s ideas from some random website more valid than their ideas? I find that if I let them know that their ideas and writing are valued and valid, it helps to make them confident enough to not feel they have to “steal” from others. I am looking forward to using some more specific exercises though.

  4. Hi Sarah,

    These are some ways I’ve approached the issue:

    First, we do an overview of the differences between a summary, a paraphrase and a quotation. Then I ask, so for which must you give credit? The answer, of course, is for all three — which can come as a surprise to some students. (We go on to discuss signal phrases and in-text citations.)

    I make a distinction between intentional and unintentional plagiarism. Most students are clear about the need to avoid intentional stealing, but can easily slip into the unintentional variety. I know someone who was suspended from college for the latter, so I tell that story in its gory detail and impress upon them its horror, and we go on to discuss strategies for keeping precise track of any words they may be cutting and pasting from various sources. (Use a different font or color for each, for instance.)

    I’ve used a quiz from the Rutgers Writing Program (, which I was turned on to by a fellow MSU instructor. I read out the scenarios, students pair up and decide whether each is plagiarism or not, then we go over the answers and give kudos to the highest scores. Some scenarios are obvious, some not.

    I also like to assign this tutorial as homework: It includes a pre-test and a post-test, and I ask the students to email me the results of both. I count the post-test as a homework grade.

    Finally, I ask them to bring in a written paragraph explaining plagiarism (in their own words!) with a signed pledge not to plagiarize. It’s so corny, I know, but I’ve actually never found plagiarism in the work of a student who’d given me his/her signed pledge!

    Good luck to all!

  5. Hi everyone,

    I’m new to the blog and teaching at MSU. Just a brief shout out—I find this resource and the community atmosphere it engenders to be truly helpful and wonderful. Thank you for doing this!

    Re: teaching plagiarism. I use this handy infographic on plagiarism (see link below). It’s very colorful and playful, so it tends to grab students’ attention. I start from the obvious stuff on the left hand side, and then try to work my way all the way to the right, giving examples of select, less obvious cases that might come as surprise to most students. Afterwards, I give them a plagiarism quiz (tweaked from an original version devised by a Rutgers Writing instructor) that looks similar to the one referenced above by Joanmarie. (Sorry, but I’m not sure how to attach a Word doc to this post, so e-mail me directly, and I could share it with you!)



  6. Hi, Colleagues –

    I shared this information with Sarah, but I thought I would post it here, as well.

    For the past several semesters, I have done a “real world plagiarism” lesson. I break the class into groups, and each group reads a different example of plagiarism in the real world. It gives us a chance to talk about the different forms plagiarism can take, the pressures that sometime lead to plagiarism, and how these different forms of plagiarism would look if they occurred in a 100/105 class.

    Here are links to the articles I use and a list of the questions I have students answer:
    1. “Student’s Novel Faces Plagiarism Controversy,” from The Harvard Crimson:

    2. “QR Markham apologizes for ‘awful pantomime’ of plagiarism,” from The Guardian:

    3. “Stephen Glass: I Lied for Esteem,” from 60 Minutes:

    4. “Jonah Lehrer’s ‘Self-Plagiarism’ Scandal Rocks The New Yorker,” from The Daily Beast:

    Discussion questions:
    1. What did this writer do that would be considered plagiarism?

    2. What could have led to this instance of plagiarism?

    3. Who did the writer hurt with her/his actions?

    4. How would this look in an ENWR 100/105 class?

    5. How can this type of plagiarism be avoided?

  7. For the past two semesters, I have actually put the school’s academic honesty policy up and we’ve read through it and talked about what each item means and gone over examples of them. They’re expected to know the policy, but I find that few students actually ever read it, and it’s written in legalese, which makes it not very accessible to students.

  8. Lots of great information and suggestions here! I showed them that Infograph and linked it on Canvas, Jung–thanks for that.

    I’d like to add a video that can lighten up the conversation and reinforce the concepts. It’s from a Norwegian university, and is in Norwegian, but you can turn on English subtitles with the CC button. It’s five minutes long, a little racy, but I find it an entertaining way to finish the plagiarism discussion:

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