How do I deal with plagiarism?

“I would go directly to the university information on this issue (”


“1) Contact your GTA advisor immediately.  Say nothing to the student until you have consulted with your advisor.  2) Process your rightful (and righteous) anger.  Try to remember that mental and emotional energy are finite, that any time and energy you spend on any particular bad actor is time and energy no longer available to you for other work, to your friends and family, and to your other students.”

“The first thing you should do is to contact your advisor.  From there, you will have a discussion about how egregious the plagiarism case is.  If you decide to report the violation, you will need to file paperwork with the Honor System (  You will need to keep the original copy of the suspected paper and submit the evidence you found (for example, highlights of the copied work from a website).  You should also submit your assignment and your syllabus, which should have a statement about plagiarism.”


“You should be working with several drafts. If it’s a first draft, I simply tell the student to begin again, but you need to know that the paper is plagiarized.

“Using sources badly does not constitute plagiarism. In fact, it offers you a chance to teach more about how to use sources.

“Misusing quotation marks or not understanding what it means to paraphrase does not constitute plagiarism. Again, let that be a chance for you to teach.

“However, if you know the paper was copied – and you have to know that for certain – and if this is a final draft (the student turned the paper in for a grade), you’ll need to take it to honor court. Start by contacting your GTA adviser. You’ll get help from there.”


“Before you confront the student (if at all), remember: consult, consult, consult. You have a number of resources within the department, including the Coordinator of GTA Education and your instructor mentor. Refer to the Undergraduate Honor Court’s page for more information.

“The best medicine, of course, is prevention. Having assignments that are fairly unique to your class and that have specific constraints will help (see “Why can’t we teach Literature”). Further, hedge your bets by planning a lesson or two about plagiarism and how you’re defining it.

“Finally, be willing to give the student the benefit of the doubt. In many but the most egregious instances, plagiarism is often accidental or arises from confusion about what counts as plagiarism.”



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