Plagiarism: What It Is and How Not to Do It.
A WebQuery for 12th Grade

Designed by

Rebecca Hargrove

Internet Plagiarism Image
Image sourced from

   Click to read an interesting article from msnbc on academic plagiarism.

You're the teacher of an English class, and when your students turn in their final papers, it is up to you to decided if the papers are academically honest. Did your students actually write their papers or claim someone else's words. Did they plagiarize? You'll need the basic information and tools to make this decision.

You will need to research what plagiarism is, why it is a bad thing, what many colleges do if a student is found guilty of plagiarism, how to spot it in other's work, and how to avoid it. You know how to write, but what about properly incorporating other's words into yours?

Your Own Work Image

Your Tasks:
Your findings will be complied in a 3 page essay; this is an English class, after all.
Specific features:
Consider these questions (some or all) when you are going through the process of completing this project.

Where can I find this information?
What are the defining characteristics of plagiarism?
What does it mean to plagiarism?
Can you accidentally plagiarize?
Can you plagiarize a single section? A whole paper? Is there a limit?
What is a citation?
What is MLA?
Why do writers need MLA?
How do you know if you need to cite?
Do you only need to cite direct quotes?
What is a paraphrase?
Do you need to cite it?
What is a summary?
Do you need to cite it?
What is a general guideline to decide if you need to cite your material?
What is a works cited page?
What information must you include on a works cited page?
Why is it useful?
What moral questions are related to plagiarism?
What can happen to you if you are caught plagiarizing?
Will your grade suffer if you plagiarize?
Is there a general anti-plagiarism policy in all colleges?
What do drafts show about the originality of your work?
What precautions can you take to prove that you aren't plagiarism?
Why is it important to remain consistent in your writing style throughout the year?
Why do all specific information and quotes need to be cited?
How do you know that your information is usable (quality, valid)?
What criteria would you consider when judging if or if not your students plagiarized?
If you suspected plagiarism, how could you test your suspicion?
What tools are there to assist you in your judgment?
How will you organize your information in your essay?
Here are some website resources you can use to find the information you will need to complete the tasks.

Purdue Owl:
from the University of Purdue, an online writing lab with citation tools
MLA: the official site of Modern Language Association
Plagiarism: describes plagiarism and the technologies that assist in stopping plagiarism
Turn It In: a tool to identify plagiarism
US Copyright Office: defines copyright and it's relation to creativity
word for word


If you follow this checklist, you will be certain to receive a good grade.

1) Use three sources.
2) Cite the sources in your essay, and include it in your works cited page.
3) Write a paragraph that addresses each of the topics on Plagiarism:
    define plagiarism,
    describe why it bad,
    describe typical discipline actions in college,
    describe how to spot it in other's work, and
    describe how to avoid plagiarism.
4) Start the essay with an introduction that introduces the topic.
5) Conclude with your criteria of identifying plagiarism and method of testing your suspicion.
6) Format and cite according to MLA standards.
7) Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.

By looking at plagiarism from a teacher's point of view, you will be prepared to avoid plagiarism and the suspicion of plagiarism. The information you gathered will help you in your future academic career. It will also prepare you for defending your own writing. Remember: you work hard to write your papers, so think about how it would feel if someone stole your work.

Copyright Dos and Don'ts
NETS Project