Academic honesty and plagiarism

Dealing with plagiarism - four approaches

"Managing plagiarism is not just a matter of detective games of detection or of designing harsh enough punishment when offenders have been found - it requires an approach that is integrated and holistic."

Moon, J. (2005), "Plagiarism in Higher Education: an Integrated Approach". University of Exeter.

In common with other UK universities, the University of Exeter has adopted an integrated approach to tackling plagiarism, involving: 

1. Monitoring and review of insitutional rules and regulations

The appropriate section in the University's Teaching Quality Assurance (TQA) manual, managing academic misconduct, was updated in February 2007, and should be the first 'port of call' for staff in cases where they suspect a student of academic dishonesty.

2. Teaching students about academic honesty

Helping students to identify the difference between 'honest' and 'dishonest' presentation of others' material is critical from the outset of any undergraduate programme, with open discussion and opportunity to raise questions being the most effective way to raise awareness of the issues along with more procedural information in handbooks, for example. Whilst face-to-face discussion is desirable, students can also be referred to Education Enhancement's WebCT resource for support and guidance in the Resources for students section.

3. Plagiarism detection

In common with many UK universities, the University is already using a plagiarism detection tool, 'Turnitin', across a number of disciplines. Students submit work electronically, which Turnitin then checks for percentages of 'match' to other published sources, including other work completed by students themselves. To find out more, please contact us .

4. 'Designing out' plagiarism through assessment

The extent to which students find it easy to plagiarise to some extent depends on the nature of the assessments they are required to undertake. Using more personal, reflective forms of assessment such as journals, learning logs and portfolios, as well as oral presentations and group projects, can help to minimise the opportunity to plagiarise, as can the efforts of programme teams to avoid pressure points for students - for example, reasonable 'lead-in' times for assessments and the avoidance of multiple deadlines occurring at once.