Plagiarism Detection and Prevention in Online Schools

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention in Online Schools

I tend to believe that most adult students are honest and would not knowingly or willingly be dishonest or resort to plagiarism. I agree with Rena and Pratt’s (2012) acknowledgements that it is up to an instructor to state academic honesty policies of their educational institutions and to further clarify what those policies mean in their courses. It is not enough for an instructor to post “Plagiarism will not be tolerated and can result in academic dismissal”. An instructor must take the time to go over the various forms of plagiarism that are most commonly seen in higher education. I also do not believe that there are higher incidents of plagiarism in online classrooms or that online classrooms prevent more opportunities for academic dishonesty (Laureate, 2012).

Plagiarism has been around forever, and has affected many notable traditional educational institutions. Most recently, Harvard University faced a huge scandal and had to discipline and expel dozens of students for cheating on a take-home exam when collaboration was expressly prohibited (Perez-Pena, 2013). It really falls on the instructor to inform and educate their students about what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and to create authentic assessments that measure learning in a way so that students do not resort to cheating.

I always liked the take home exam or the major research paper as a form of assessment in my history courses. When these types of exams or major paper assessments are created we are measuring learning based on what that student can show in their work on that exam or paper in a comfortable and dedicated environment, free of distractions and test anxiety. Learning is not measured by a student’s ability to recall facts, or remember dates, but rather is measured by students by their ability to draw on what they have learned. Students draw learning from multiple sources, to analyze and synthesize their learning in a cohesive written exam. Students can display a broad understanding, critical thinking skills, meaning making and connections; the kind of skills they can take with them to use in their next courses, their work or their community.

I also like the idea of an instructor fostering academic honesty and high standards of integrity in a classroom environment. We can have a special section of the online classroom devoted to guidelines, policies and principles. Mc Cabe and Pavela (2007), outline “Ten principals of Academic Integrity”, we could have that link in our syllabus and discuss the meaning of these principles early in the course. Instructors model academic references, correct citations and answer questions as they arise, we can also discuss the various ways students can inadvertently plagiarize and stress that although not intentional, these actions are still plagiarism.

There are many plagiarism detection software tools available for online instructors or universities to use in the online classroom and many are in use today. It is important to note that grading with plagiarism detection software must be accompanied by a firsthand review by a skilled grader. Most plagiarism software programs cannot distinguish between a copied or lifted passage from a text and an appropriately cited reference (Jocoy, & DiBiase, 2006). Many of these software programs are available for free trials and demonstration. But most programs require a subscription or are available through licensing from an educational institution. I will list some of these anti-plagiarism tools and software programs and their URL’s in this blog.

Grammarly (2013). Retrived on Feb. 12, 2013

*Plag Tracker (2013). Retrived on Feb. 11, 2013 from Please see Munoz (2012), a Walden University Student blog that listed the references to this software.

Turnitin (2013). Retrived on Feb. 11, 2013

Viper Anti Plagiarism Scanner (2013). Retrived on Feb. 11, 2013 from


Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by Adult Learners Online: A Case Study in Detection and Remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1–15. Also accessed on Feb. 12, 2013 from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Plagiarism and Cheating. Baltimore, MD: Rena P. and Pratt, K.

Mc Cabe, D. and Pavela, G. (2007). Ten Principles of Academic Integrity.
Center of Academic Integrity, California State University. Retrived on Feb. 12, 2013

Munoz, L. (2012). Cheating and the Online Environment. Retrived on Feb. 11, 2013 from

Perez- Pena, R. (2013). Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal. New York Times. Retrieved on Feb. 14, 2013 from

2 thoughts on “Plagiarism Detection and Prevention in Online Schools

  1. Teri,
    I think that it is the educator as well that sets the scene for the expectations of what the students should and will eventually do. Integrity for the most part is in tact, but for those who haven’t realized that, there is so much more in store for them to find out. There are so many ways now to detect untrustworty learners, and all universities have this in place. I visited your links and have them saved for my future in educating adults! Great thorough post!

  2. Even with the best of technology and resources I think that there should be more education at the high school level. We really do have some wonderfull systems in place I just think that when you know better you do better, but there will always be those who want to take the easy way and cheat that’s going to be a part of education. We just have to support introducing the systems early in hopes that students will be honest and really put in the work themselves. I miss those days of staying in the library all day and night ~ writing just felt right. That’s what happens when you can google everything!

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