Preventing Plagiarism, Procrastination, and Purchasing Papers



Whether they are pressed for time, unsure of the research process, or lacking confidence in their abilities, many students are tempted to procrastinate, plagiarize, or even have someone else write their paper. These issues can lead to difficult decisions for administrators and serious consequences for students. Here are some tips on how instructors and students can use PowerNotes to deter some of these bad behaviors.


Addressing Unintentional Plagiarism

Unintentional plagiarism occurs for a number of reasons, including lack of: (1) diligence in recording citation information from sources; (2) adherence to proper scholarly procedures; and (3) understanding of the underlying source material. The first reason is addressed here, while the second and third reasons are addressed elsewhere on our blog.

There are a number of reasons why many students aren’t as diligent as they should be when tracking source information as they research, from thinking the process takes too long to trying to avoid distraction while reading a source. Or they might not be thinking that far ahead when it comes to the research and writing process. Plagiarism becomes more likely when students wait until the end of the paper-writing process to add their citations or construct a bibliography, which is standard practice for a large majority of students.

When students gather research with PowerNotes, by contrast, our Chrome extension automatically saves both source links and citation information. Students can’t lose track of their sources, making it easy to track down and properly attribute their work.

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Instructors also use PowerNotes to deter students from plagiarizing by requiring students to hand in their PowerNotes outlines at designated check-in dates. Because all the source links in the downloaded outline are clickable, the instructor can view and evaluate the sources a student used.

This process also gives instructors a chance to give students feedback on their research strategy, source usage, and on specific skills like paraphrasing and summarizing. For more information on how instructors use PowerNotes to prevent patchwriting and facilitate proper paraphrasing and summarization, click here.


Minimizing Procrastination

We all know that the vast majority of students procrastinate to some degree. Unfortunately, due to the complex nature of source-based writing, procrastination can take a larger toll on the quality of a final paper than other less-complex assignments.

Many instructors use PowerNotes to deter procrastination by asking students to utilize the “Download Outline to Word” feature, allowing students to share their outline with instructors. Assigning periodic outline submissions keeps students doing research and organization on a regular basis and limits the negative effects of procrastination. While multiple outline submissions may seem burdensome, PowerNotes is automatically creating an outline as each student gathers, analyzes, and organizes research, which eliminates any overhead associated with formatting and source identification, leaving students to focus on the core skills needed for the assignment.


Deterring Purchased Papers

Essay writing companies say that as many as 70% of students have used an essay writing service at least once. Because the purchased paper is original, plagiarism checkers are ineffective and it can be nearly impossible to prove that the paper was purchased. Instructors are left with only their intuition as evidence of any wrongdoing.

Requiring students to submit a series of PowerNotes outlines documenting the progress of their research can effectively deter students from buying a finished paper. A final research outline assignment provides a snapshot of all the research a student is using along with the structure the paper will follow. So if a final paper submission is “too good to be true” and does not align with the PowerNotes outlines, the instructor can more easily identify the use of a third-party writing service. Moreover, the instructor will have a series of outlines to use as evidence of the mismatch.


Is This Just More Work?

Adding interim outlining assignments used to mean more work for instructors as well as students. That is no longer the case with PowerNotes. Instructors can let students know that feedback will only be provided to students that are “off course,” giving instructors the discretion to comment only in certain circumstances while receiving the benefits described above.

For more information on how PowerNotes can help instructors, click here.