Plagiarism on the Web

by Lynne Schalman and Steve Bergen
(you can e-mail us both at )
Last revised 12/23/07

A Webquest on Plagiarism asks students and teachers to confront the issue of plagiarism, including defining plagiarism, plagiarism versus paraphrasing, and strategies for preventing plagiarism.

A Powerpoint Presentation on Plagiarism explores the issues raised by unethical web usage in essay writing. Created by Lynne Schalman. If you do not have Powerpoint, then try this online version of A Powerpoint Presentation on Plagiarism which explores the issues raised by unethical web usage in essay writing.

Intro: several places that will provide you with papers

And a reaction: several places that will help you detect fraudulent paper

Our own case study

I went to askjeeves and asked where I could find sites on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. To my chagrin, one of the links led me to a site that advertised TERM PAPER EXAMPLES & MORE EXAMPLE TERM PAPERS ON SHAKESPEARE for $8.95 per page. So in fact, a student researching in an absolutely appropriate manner could be led by the nose, so to speak, to an illegal site. Lynne Schalman 4/6/99

Here are some thoughts about keeping kids on the straight and narrow- all strategies, sadly, require more teacher time:

  1. The more specific the assignment, the harder it is to cheat; most of the topics on these sites are general and broad, i.e The Romantic vision of F Scott Fitz-or they are the most common kinds of topics, i.e, The American Dream, The Green Light, etc. If a teacher assigns very specific topics or questions to answer, then it is less likely that students will find easy access to essays.
  2. Compare and Contrast papers-which I am not a big fan of-are harder to duplicate on the web.
  3. Papers that address specific themes raised in the class are harder to duplicate
  4. Requiring personal response in some way -even in literary criticism- might help.
  5. Check Progress: if English teachers require steps along the way to process writing then again students will find it more difficult to plagiarize. Teachers have to routinely check-and make time for-thesis statements, outlines, first and second drafts.
  6. There are sites that go over the difference between direct and indirect quotes, concepts that kids do not always understand. ( I will find these if you are interested.)
  7. Post student's papers on the web; when the whole world is watching, students might be less apt to cheat.

PART ONE: Getting up to speed (Steve Bergen)

  1. Teachers need to become familiar with the tech specifics of how illegal papers are purchased or found.
  2. A reasonable assignment for every English teacher and History teacher should be to do what Lynne Schalman has done: obtain an paper that you will then share with your colleagues
  3. Teachers should check out sites for examples of "how to appropriate the use of the web" for paper writing
  4. St. Mark's School of Texas: We post student work from a link off the teacher's page who assigned the work. The teacher must first check, proof then authorize the publishing. The work is sent to me and then I put it on the school page. Essentially, the teacher must feel sufficiently confident and proud of the work to post it under their name with the knowledge that the work may be viewed by anyone and that this will be a reflection on them and the school. Example: student multimedia poetry via powerpoint see and click on faculty, then brandenurg ... Bob Kenyon, Webmaster, St. Mark's School of Texas
  5. Peddie School (NJ): Our Principio program works similarly. They have had great success with this approach, and have even had a request from a university to put a link to a student's paper on their Web site! Start at and follow the Principio link ... Tim Corica, The Peddie School (e-mail: tcorica@PEDDIE.ORG)
  6. The book "Oh What a Web Weave, Computer Technology in Secondary Schools" by Tim Hilman and Craig Thorn IV, published by Avocus Publishing, is highly recommended to gain a philosophical framework for web issues.

PART TWO: Suggestions and Ideas (Steve Bergen)

  1. Producing a web page that gets used and shown to all students and outlines ideas of plagiarism and honesty
  2. A combined mini-class by a computer teacher and history/english teacher can be very effective to highlight the tech and intellectual aspects
  3. The more PR the better .. parent newsletter, student guide, handout shee