Plagiarism Prevention and Detection

How do we reconcile the importance of trusting our students with the knowledge that some of them will attempt to plagiarize?

Preventing plagiarism
  1. Clearly define plagiarism at the beginning of the semester, ideally in the syllabus
      • Teaching students about academic integrity is an opportunity to help them understand how to take part and influence the academic conversation.
        • When students can effectively build on others’ ideas, they become more aware and comfortable with their own ideas, as well as feel a sense of responsibility to the academic community they are contributing to.
      • Refer to this student guide on documentation and plagiarism –
      • Statement on academic integrity,
      • Academic integrity checklist for students,
      • Include a clear distinction between acceptable forms of collaboration and plagiarism
      • Creativity and exploration are important, we don’t want to stifle these by being overly punitive. Be careful when setting tone around this issue, striking the right balance is not always easy.
  2. Create assignments that encourage originality and discourage plagiarism
  3. Assessments that are formative, smaller and more frequent, and face to face when possible.
    • As opposed to a single large summative assessment
    • Design assessments so students can show that they’ve learned, not to catch cheaters
  4. Modify assessments from semester to semester
  5. Request photocopies of all sources used in a paper
  6. Make clear that all written assignments will be submitted to an automated plagiarism service
Assignments for deterring plagiarism
  • Give students a low-stakes writing assignment to begin the semester; for example, where they introduce themselves to the instructor and classmates via a discussion board. This can provide a good baseline writing sample in the student’s natural voice, for later comparison if necessary.
  • Craft writing assignments that are not easily plagiarized, such as asking for unique, specific, and/or personal insights instead of more general information about a topic.
  • Use scaffolded writing assignments (e.g., proposal, annotated bibliography, and multiple drafts)
Plagiarism warning signs
  • Writing that seems inconsistent with the level of the class and/or previous examples of the student’s writing
  • Inconsistent writing style, with sophisticated and unrefined sentences mixed together
  • Bibliography is unclear or has sources missing

Automated Plagiarism Detection Tools we Support:


SafeAssign is Blackboard’s builtin plagiarism detection tool. It is integrated with the assignment feature in Blackboard and can be turned on when creating an assignment in any content area within a course.

For step-by-step instructions on creating a SafeAssign enabled assignment in Blackboard, see this document:

Blackboard SafeAssign help page:


Turnitin can be utilized within Blackboard to create writing assignments using Turnitin’s Direct Assignment feature, or via Turnitin directly for those who do not use Blackboard.

See this document for step-by-step instructions on how to create a Turnitin assignment in Blackboard:

For those not using Blackboard who would still like to utilize Turnitin, see this document for steps on accessing Turnitin directly: Email Aaron Kendall ( to request being added to Skidmore’s Turnitin account.

Turnitin Instructor User Manual:

Link to Recorded Skidmore Turnitin Training Session


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