Skip to content

Mississippi State University Libraries Mississippi State University Libraries Mississippi State University Mississippi State University

Today's hours:

About MSU Libraries

Library News

That Cheating Heart: Keeping Plagiarism Out of Your Classroom

Plagiarism is an ongoing problem for educators. Whether it be students who don't understand how to cite materials or papers that were bought from the internet, it is our responsibility to be aware of the problem and to take steps to guard against it.  Below you will find resources that discuss the many facets of plagiarism, including forms of plagiarism, how to construct effective assignments, how to help students avoid plagiarism, what to look for if you suspect plagiarism and electronic resources available for detection. While no amount of software can entirely eradicate this problem, it is important to give both educators and students the tools for prevention and detection.

University Policy

Mississippi State University Policies and Procedures for Handling Academic Misconduct (Volume II Section 12.07 of the MSU Operating Policy and Procedure) -

Resources for Educators

Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers -
Robert Harris, author of The Plagiarism Handbook, explains plagiarism from the ground up. Beginning with why students cheat and ending with how to handle cheating when it occurs, Harris gives concrete advice and techniques to handle this complex issue.
Center for Academic Integrity -
Affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, CAI is a consortium of over 320 institutions dedicated to the enhancement of academic integrity throughout higher education.  The web site includes useful links, updates on recent research, fellowship information, and information on their annual conference.  Mississippi State University is a CAI member.
Cheating 101: Paper Mills and You -
This website, created as part of a teaching effectiveness seminar at Coastal Carolina University, gives comprehensive information on kinds of plagiarism currently being perpetrated, the internet's role in the problem and what faculty can do to fight it. All of the sources from the seminar are available including an extensive list of cheat sites.
Cut and Paste Plagiarism: Preventing, Detecting, and Tracking Online Plagiarism -
This page by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Library Instruction Coordinator at Illinois State University, provides guidelines for detecting and preventing cut and paste plagiarism as well as a bibliography of further reading.
Detecting Plagiarism -
Developed by the University of Texas at Austin Library, this website guides faculty on how to use popular search engines such as Google to find plagiarized sources.
Plagiarism Prevention -
This site, from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, offers useful definitions of copyright and plagiarism in addition to a lengthy bibliography of print materials and websites dealing with the issue.
Plagiarism: The Definitive Guide to Prevention -
This site provides information on how to spot plagiarism, examples of plagiarized essays from the web, and many links to resources on copyright, cheat sites and research advice.

Websites to Share with your Students

Avoiding Plagiarism -
This site, created by Northwestern University, gives a definition of plagiarism, tips on avoiding accidental plagiarism and examples of the most common forms of plagiarism.
Avoiding Plagiarism -
This site, while it has the same title as the one above, was created by Purdue University and breaks down the contradictions in student's may feel about academic writing. This site not only gives students guidelines on how to avoid plagiarism, but also provides practice questions for students to test their citing and paraphrasing knowledge.
Combating Plagiarism (CQ Researcher) -
Congressional Quarterly provides free access to the September 19, 2003 issue of the CQ Researcher, dedicated to the topic "Combating Plagiarism".  Here students will find an excellent overview of the plagiarism issue, including a discussion of (in)famous writers and journalists who have been accused of plagiarism.  Includes a chronology and bibliography.
Examples of Plagiarism (Academic Integrity at Princeton) -
Part of the Academic Integrity website at Princeton University, this website provides concrete examples of plagiarized text and computer code.  The website presents a primary passage and three plagiarized essays, with explanatory notes about the plagiarized text.  An excellent teaching tool!
Plagiarism: What it is and How to Recognize and Avoid it -
This site, from Indiana University, provides students with the tools to avoid plagiarism. Among these are examples of acceptable and unacceptable paraphrasing and definitions of terms such as Common Knowledge.
A Statement on Plagiarism -
This site, created by Capital Community College, defines plagiarism and uses concrete examples to show how proper citation and paraphrasing are necessary in order to avoid plagiarism.
What is Plagiarism? -
This site, created by Georgetown University's Honor Council, walks students through the many types of plagiarism that they may encounter and why it is important to use proper citation practices.

Detection Services

This section includes both fee-based services and "free" resources.  Search engines, such as Alta Vista or Google can often be used to detect plagiarized material.  These are also included in the list.  Note that the Library does not subscribe to a fee-based detection service.

- Indicates services that require a software purchase or subscription fee

Alta Vista -
Alta Vista is a large search engine recommended by many as a good way to find unique passages on the internet. Use quotation marks to signify phrases.
CopyCatch  -
CopyCatch software compares student's essays against one another to find plagiarism within a class and over time, particularly useful for assignments given every year.
EVE2 (Essay Verification Engine) -
EVE2 software compares student essays submitted in a variety of word processing formats to internet searches and claims that it has had some success in cracking into cheat sites.
Glatt Plagiarism Services -
The Glatt Plagiarism Service provides software which tests student's knowledge of a topic with an exam which asks students to replace random words in their own papers.
Google -
Google is one of the most comprehensive search engines on the internet. Use quotation marks to signify phrases.
Metacrawler -
Metacrawler is a search engine for search engines. This engine performs searches on many search engines at once and also includes a phrase button for searching.
MSU Libraries' Indexes/Databases -
Databases such as Lexis/Nexis and ABI/Inform offer full-text searching of their materials. Using quotations to signify phrases, searches can identify if passages came from any of the full-text materials within these databases. Be sure that the database has a full-text searching option, as other types of searches will only check particular fields rather than the full-text of the document.
Plagiarism.Org's TurnItIn.Com -
TurnItIn.Com is a subscription service which compares student papers to a database of papers collected from all subscribers as well as comparing papers to internet searches.
The Plagiarism Resource Center at the University of Virginia -
This website distributes the software created by Lou Bloomfield, Professor of Physics, University of Virginia. Currently, the software is free and can be used to detect plagiarism by comparing student paper to one another. Bloomfield used the software to detect plagiarism in his class assignments over multiple semesters.
Search Engine Showdown -
Search Engine Showdown compares various search engines functions and can help identify which search engines continue to perform the best phrase searching and which search engines have the largest number of pages indexed.


Culwin, Fintan and Thomas Lancaster. "Plagiarism Prevention, Deterrence and Detection."  The Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (May 2001) (Link inactive as of February 2004)
Culwin and Lancaster studied the process of plagiarism and identify both how it occurs and the current resources available to teachers to prevent and detect it.
Evans, Jim. "The New Plagiarism in Higher Education: From Selection to Reflection." Interactions. Vol. 4 No. 2 (Summer 2000).
Evans comments on the ease of plagiarism for students and the need for instructors to be more vigilant in not only identifying and preventing plagiarism, but also educating students on copyright and why plagiarism is unacceptable.
Foster, Andrea L. "Plagiarism-Detection Tool Creates Legal Quandary." The Chronicle of Higher Education (online). (May 17, 2002).
This article discusses the issues of privacy and copyright in regards to student papers being retained in commercial plagiarism detection databases. Both the allegations that FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) is being violated as well as the benefits derived from these databases are discussed.
McKenzie, Jamie. "The New Plagiarism: Seven Antidotes to Prevent HIghway Robbery in an Electronic Age." From Now On. Vol.7, No. 8 (May 1998).
McKenzie focuses on the need for instructors to create assignments and foster research practices in students that encourage the synthesis of ideas rather than just the reporting of facts.
Ryan, Julie J.C.H. "Student Plagiarism in an Online World." ASEE Prism Online. (December 1998).
Ryan uses personal teaching experience from George Washington University to provide practical advice on how to prevent plagiarism and how to handle students when confronted with the problem.
Slobogin, Kathy "Survey: Many Students Say Cheating's OK" (April 5, 2002).
Discusses the results of a survey conducted by Donald McCabe and the Rutgers Management Education Center. The survey polled high school students and found that 75% of them engage in serious cheating activities.

More Information

For more information about this website or the workshop that it accompanies, contact Deborah Lee, Associate Professor/Coordinator, or (662) 325-0810.

About MSU Libraries:

Mississippi State University Libraries is a premier research library providing its communities of users an ongoing, creative, technologically advanced library program that provides new and emerging technologies; enhances and inspires teaching, research, and service of the highest caliber in an environment of free and open inquiry and with a commitment to excellence. For more information about MSU Libraries, please visit .

MSU, Mississippi's flagship research university, is online at