At some point, you might find you’re confronted with a piece of work that you think has been plagiarised. You might find essays from two different students seem suspiciously similar, you may find a passage that is not quoted or referenced and you recognise from a published piece of work, or you might find that the same piece of work has previously been submitted or is unlikely to be the work of that particular student. If you are dealing with such a case and are unsure which steps to take next, look at the Academic Misconduct Flowchart on p8 of the 19-20 policy, or read on to learn more about ways to spot academic misconduct in students’ work.
How to check work for originality
- Pay attention to a change from the first to the third person (changes referring to ‘I’ or ‘we’) or footnotes without explanation or inconsistent formats, which might indicate that the text is a copy-and-paste product where only slight changes have been made to try and outsmart Turnitin.
- Compare in-text referencing and bibliographies to see if there is anything suspicious, like missing sources in the bibliography where the student might not have actually accessed the source, sources that might not be available to the student, or sources in a language that the student does not speak, as well as different referencing styles that might result from copying-and-pasting.
- While marking the contents of the student’s work, read passages attentively and see if there is anything not referenced that you feel you have read somewhere before (whether in their/another student’s work or a published book/paper).
- Use Google to check suspicious phrases or passages.
- Submit the work to Turnitin. Make sure to pay attention to individual source matches that are more extensive than 2-3% and check what they are. A high percentage does not necessarily mean that the work has been plagiarised. Investigate further.
- If in doubt whether or not the work has been done by the student themself, ask for drafts or notes.
Consider a number of different ways to assure yourself that the work is the student’s own and do not just rely on Turnitin. Investigate using your experience and expertise.
For more information on how academic misconduct is handled and the levels of penalties, check our Academic Misconduct Policy
If you need to report a case, please use the Academic Misconduct Reporting Form for Schools (DOC, 46.9 kB).