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Preventing and Identifying Plagiarism


  • Define and explain plagiarism to your students, including your policies about it.
  • Don't assume that they understand the concept of intellectual property and documentation. (Daniel Library - The Citadel)
  • As part of the paper or as a separate assignment, have students reflect personally on the topic they are writing on or on the process of doing research and writing. (Kimbel Library, Coastal Carolina University)
  • Ask for an annotated bibliography, and the earlier the better. Asking for it in advance of the paper insures that the student has done some work, and allows you to check the final bibliography against the initial one. (Falcone Library, Le Moyne College)
  • Avoid having students simply find answers. Encourage students to do their own thinking, not paraphrase the thinking of someone else. What are their thoughts and ideas on a given topic? (Staley Library, Millikin University)
  • Ask a Randall Library reference librarian for assistance.



  • Copy a string of 6-8 words from the paper, enclosing them in quotation marks, into a large search engine such as  Google, Google Scholar, Google Books. These search engines will find the string if it has been taken from a paper in one of the free paper mill sites or if it has been copied from another website, such as ERIC Digests. (Daniel Library, The Citadel)
  • Search full-text databases in Randall Library, entering a four to eight word, distinctive phrase in a full text search engine will often yield the source of the plagiarism. Be sure to use the proper search techniques for locating phrases. Search databases that have full text of articles, for example MasterFile, Academic Search (set the search for All Text - this is not the default), LexisNexis, ScienceDirect, Project Muse, JSTOR even Mergent Online. (Staley Library, Millikin University)
  • Search for the title of the paper, using quotes "", on an Internet search engine or a paper mill site. If the student hasn't the foresight to change the title, you may find it listed on a term paper site. (Kimbel Library, Coastal Carolina University)
  • Is the bibliography in the format that you requested? Does the paper cite references that you consider old and out-of-date? (Daniel Library, The Citadel)
  • Check for unusual formatting or formatting that does not match what you require. In particular, check for website printout page numbers or dates, grayed out letters and unusual use of upper/lower case and capitalization. (Hinchcliffe, Illinois State University)

North Carolina General Statute § 14-118.2 (2000)

§ 14-118.2. Assisting, etc., in obtaining academic credit by fraudulent means
(a)It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association to assist any student, or advertise, offer or attempt to assist any student, in obtaining or in attempting to obtain, by fraudulent means, any academic credit, grade or test score, or any diploma, certificate or other instrument purporting to confer any literary, scientific, professional, technical or other degree in any course of study in any university, college, academy or other educational institution. The activity prohibited by this subsection includes, but is not limited to, preparing or advertising, offering, or attempting to prepare a term paper, thesis, or dissertation for another; impersonating or advertising, offering or attempting to impersonate another in taking or attempting to take an examination; and the giving or changing of a grade or test score or offering to give or change a grade or test score in exchange for an article of value or money.

(b)Any person, firm, corporation or association violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. This section includes the acts of a teacher or other school official; however, the provisions of this section shall not apply to the acts of one student in assisting another student as herein defined if the former is duly registered in an educational institution in North Carolina and is subject to the disciplinary authority thereof.
HISTORY: 1963, c. 781; 1969, c. 1224, s. 7; 1989, c. 144; 1993, c. 539, s. 63; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c)

Helpful Websites

We've selected some online resources for avoiding plagiarism (aimed at students), plagiarism identification, other resource guides on plagiarism, and internet term paper mill sites.