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Plagiarism Resources for Emory Law Faculty: Preventing Plagiarism

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Preventing Plagiarism

The best way to deal with plagiarism is to prevent it from ever happening in the first place.  Prevention includes educating students on (1) what plagiarism is, and (2) the long-term consequences of plagiarizing.  Plagiarizing can destroy a student's legal career before it even gets started.  Therefore, deterrence is the best gift we can give our students.  The criminal justice system uses fines and imprisonment, not just to punish crime, but also to deter it.  If people know the laws and what can happen to them if the break them, most people will choose to not violate them.  The same is true for law students who might otherwise plagiarize.  If they understand what type of behavior is forbidden and what is at stake if they are caught, very few, if any, will do it.  It will not seem worth it to most students.  There might be a couple of risk takers or people who wait until the last minute and panic, but these students will be few and far between.

Below are some recommendations for preventing plagiarism in the classroom.  A professor can use any or all of these to try to keep the risks of students plagiarizing to a minimum.  These are sample recommendations only.


Consider including any of the following in your course syllabus:

  • Definition and consequences of plagiarism from the 2019-2020 Student Handbook The 2019-2020 Student Handbook includes Emory Law's Professional Conduct Code which includes plagiarism as an act of academic misconduct which will subject a student to prosecution:

 "Plagiarizing or plagiarism, which means using, intentionally or not, a written document or electronic recording reflecting the ideas or words of another as one's own without proper attribution to the source of those ideas or words."  (page 63).

“Plagiarism of any part of the paper will result in an “F” and/or other sanctions deemed appropriate by the Professional Conduct Court.” 

These guidelines can be attached to a syllabus, posted in Canvas, or handed out anytime throughout the semester.  Consider requiring students to read the guidelines and sign them thereby explicitly acknowledging that they understand what constitutes plagiarism and what can happen if they plagiarize.  

  • Include a link to this "Citing Your Sources" guide written by Emory University Libraries.  This online guide includes information on how to cite sources and avoid plagiarism.
  • Include Information about Turnitin software availability and use.  Information about using Turnitin can be found on the university's Canvas Resources page which also includes the following sample language to include in syllabi:

This course may employ plagiarism-detection software, including Turnitin, for any required assignments.  Turnitin compares submitted work to sources available on the internet, archived databases of essays, journals, books, and other publications, and its database of assignments submitting in the past at Emory and other universities.  Work that generates concerns about originality or citation methods will be reviewed and submitted to the Honor Council as appropriate.  This software does not substitute for the judgment of the instructor and other authorities in the detection of plagiarism, and other methods may be employed in this course to determine that all work abides by the standards set forth in the Honor Code. 

Turnitin Plagiarism Reviews are available for all assignments and papers submitted via Canvas and can be found in the Assignments tab in Canvas.  Canvas administrators and specialists are available for consultation appointments, questions, and trouble shooting.

Classroom Culture

Create a culture of plagiarism awareness and deterrence in the classroom by discussing the following:

  • At the beginning of the semester, introduce students to Turnitin - the Plagiarism checker software included in Canvas.  Discuss the program and tell students that all papers will be put through the Turnitin program (whether they are or not) or if preferred, that the software will be used on any suspect papers. 
  • Encourage anonymous student reporting.  Include language in the syllabus that encourages students to report direct knowledge or suspicion that one of their classmates has or is planning on plagiarizing.  Consider creating a form that can be posted on Canvas pertaining to this that students can fill out and put in the professor’s mailbox if necessary.
  • Mid-semester, remind students of potential plagiarism risks and consequences if discovered when reviewing drafts of the student's paper.  By addressing plagiarism early in the process allows the student time to make corrections which would avoid further problems.  This can be good especially if the plagiarism was unintentional.

Course Requirements

Consider making these a part of the course grade:

  • CALI Lesson on Plagiarism.  To educate students and raise awareness about plagiarism, consider requiring all students to complete this CALI Plagiarism in an Online World - Staying out of Trouble lesson.  CALI lessons are easy, educational and fun and this one is even a little scary about the negative things that could happen if caught plagiarizing.  Note: Students receive CALI passwords during Orientation however, if they have misplaced their passwords, they can request a new one from the law library here.  
  • Research Log.  Some of the Advanced Legal Research courses require students to submit narratives of how they performed their research for each assignment.  Consider requiring the same in upper-level writing courses.  Professors can require students to attach a narrative page to their papers containing an explanation of their research process and where they got ideas, analogies, who they met with etc.  The narrative should follow the production of the paper as it takes form.  Dead ends, topic changes, and reworked outlines are actually helpful in showing the students’ critical thought process and that the work is more likely legitimate.
  • Submission of Rough Draft mid-semester.  Consider requiring a rough draft in the middle of the semester which you can read specifically for plagiarism clues.  If something seems suspect, it can be mentioned to the student and edited out before the final draft is submitted. This reduces time spent pouring over papers at the end.