Plagiarism-Proof Assignments

Designing Plagiarism-Proof Assignments

What is a "plagiarism-proof assignment"?

Bloom, L. Z. (2008). Insider writing: Plagiarism-proof assignments. In C. Eisner and M. Vicinus (Eds.), Originality, imitation, and plagiarism : teaching writing in the digital age (pp. 208-218). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015073943162

DeSena, L. H. (2007). Preventing plagiarism: Tips and techniques. Urbana, Ill: National Council of Teachers of English. http://cod.worldcat.org/oclc/76897615

Lathrop, A., & Foss, K. (2005). Guiding students from cheating and plagiarism to honesty and integrity: Strategies for change. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. http://cod.worldcat.org/oclc/60742096

Designing Assignments to Discourage Plagiarism
Alice Robison - Writing Across the Curriculum at UW-Madison

"Teaching our students about proper use of sources and citation methods is an important part of discouraging plagiarism, and defining, discussing, and teaching proper use of sources and citation methods is a useful tactic. Experienced instructors concur that it is important to include information on plagiarism in their syllabi, perhaps confirming class discussions with “academic honesty contracts” or institutional “honor codes.” In addition, instructors can think carefully about course- and assignment-design."

Plagiarism-Proofing Assignments and Assessments
UW-Stout Online Professional Development

"Explore how to deter plagiarism through the careful design of learning activities and assessments. Successful educators share their strategies for creating projects, research papers, and exams that emphasize higher-order thinking."

Deterring Plagiarism
Margaret Procter, University of Toronto

"Knowing how to build personal ideas on past knowledge is a central goal of university study, but it sometimes seems that students hear about it mainly through warnings and threats. Here are some practical ways to lessen the risk of plagiarism in your classes while using writing as a way for students to explore ideas and learn ways of thinking."

Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers
Robert Harris, VirtualSalt

"The availability of textual material in electronic format has made plagiarism easier than ever. Copying and pasting of paragraphs or even entire essays now can be performed with just a few mouse clicks. The strategies discussed here can be used to combat what some believe is an increasing amount of plagiarism on research papers and other student writing. By employing these strategies, you can help encourage students to value the assignment and to do their own work."

Assignments that Work

What makes a good research assignment?
Assignments that work...

  • Communicate the value of inquiry
  • Require application of diverse information seeking strategies
  • Entail topic development
  • Recognize that different types of resources are appropriate for different information needs
  • Expose students to a variety of resources
  • Promote critical evaluation
  • Incorporate ethical considerations of information use
  • Enrich the subject of study
  • Require practice finding and using information for a specific purpose
  • Reinforce information literacy within different disciplines and at different developmental levels

This guide is adapted from Olympic College Library's "Information Literacy Assignments That Work!" and is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0


Critical Conversations

Post-Election, Some Professors Feel They Must Play Mediator
Chronicle of Higher Education

"Will I put off my students? How will those talks affect course evaluations? Will I stifle conversation? Questions like those are among their concerns ... Worries about tenure and promotion could deter some professors. And for many more, politics isn’t related to the curriculum in a way that makes it a common topic of conversation."



AltResearch.pngAlt-Research, a Future of Research series, offers presentations on alternative assignment strategies and templates that can be adapted for classes across disciplines. Sessions will provide practical and creative options for any instructor who is weary of reading lackluster research papers, frustrated with plagiarism, or simply looking to expand their assignment repertoire.

Sessions will be presented as face-to-face workshops or discussions and the Library will compile content into an open online toolkit for instructors.

In addition to attending sessions, we invite you to participate by joining the Alt-Research online classroom at https://app.schoology.com/course/874873070. Please contact Jenn Kelley at kelleyj@cod.edu for the enrollment key.

Formatting or Fetishism? What do we want from source citing anyway?

“Has an element of fetishism perhaps crept into what was once a necessary academic practice?” This is the first sentence in the preface to the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook, published this past spring.

The new edition of the MLA Handbook acknowledges the confusion and futility associated with attempts to provide a definitive citation format for each and every source that could possibly be used in academic writing. In order to cite a book, one had to first identify what kind of book: Print book? Audiobook? E-book? E-book read on a Kindle? Downloaded as a PDF? Downloaded as a PDF and then printed and bound in collection?

Recognizing that no handbook can anticipate new formats and platforms for publishing information, the MLA has created a format-agnostic approach to documentation meant to replace the “forbidding level of detail” that had turned the Handbook into “a reference work… rather than a guide that taught the principles underlying documentation” (MLA Handbook, xi).

There are many stylistic changes between an MLA 7 citation and an MLA 8 citation, however, the role of the citation remains the same - “enabling readers to participate fully in the conversations between writers and their sources” (MLA Handbook, xii). With this in mind, we ask you to reflect for a moment on your own source citation requirements. When it comes to the rules that govern academic style, has as an element of fetishism crept into your own thinking about citations?

The introduction to the MLA Handbook recognizes the importance of rules in documenting sources, but suggests that our use of MLA be guided by three principles:

  1. Cite simple traits shared by most works.
  2. Remember that there is often more than one correct way to document a source.
  3. Make your documentation useful to readers.

As writing handbooks, citation management software, and Library databases make the transition from one version of MLA style to the next, we hope that COD instructors will keep these principles in mind when requiring students to cite their sources - whether MLA, APA, Chicago or another style. Depending on whether a student has access to MLA 7 or MLA 8, a citation may include a URL, or it may not. A citation may read “edited by” or “Ed.” A citation may indicate the day a source was last accessed, or it may not. Perhaps these differences shouldn’t matter much in the college classroom.

For, if we accept that the purpose of a citation is to be useful to readers, then we must accept that variations in citation formatting do not undermine that purpose.

So, how should we, as an academic community, help our students both comprehend the conventions of scholarly communication and manage the challenges of college writing and research?

The COD Librarians offer these suggestions:

  • Be explicit in both your style and source documentation expectations. Do you want students to include a URL for all online sources regardless of whether a DOI is available? Do you expect to see a “last accessed” date included in Web site citations? Tell your students this.
  • Consider grading your students on the utility of their citations rather than their exactitude. A number of studies have shown that an over-emphasis on proper citation may actually be hurting the quality of college writing. Students spend a disproportionate amount of time agonizing over the “correct” way to format a citation when compared to the actual time spent reading and understanding the same sources. We can help lessen student research anxiety by de-emphasizing our focus on “perfect” citations.
  • Address plagiarism concerns via alternative methods. Librarians and scholars believe that our fixation on citation rules stems from our fear of plagiarism. What strategies can you employ that might reduce intentional and unintentional plagiarism? Your liaison librarian can work with you to craft scaffolded assignments, authentic research experiences and other options.

COD Librarians are your partners in teaching and learning. Let us know how we can help you help your students succeed.

SafeAssign for Teaching & Learning


  • Dow, G. T. (2015). Do cheaters never prosper? The impact of examples, expertise and cognitive load on cryptomnesia and inadvertent self-plagiarism of creative tasks. Creativity Research Journal, 27(1), 47-57.
  • Elander, J., Pittam, G., Lusher, J., Fox, P., & Payne, N. (2010). Evaluation of an intervention to help students avoid unintentional plagiarism by improving their authorial identity. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(2), 157-171.
  • Ferro, M. J., & Martins, H. F. (2016). Academic plagiarism: yielding to temptation. British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science,13(1), 1-11.
  • Hollins, T. J., Lange, N., Dennis, I., & Longmore, C. A. (2015). Social influences on unconscious plagiarism and anti-plagiarism. Memory, 1-19.
  • Keuskamp, D., & Sliuzas, R. (2007). Plagiarism prevention or detection? The contribution of text-matching software to education about academic integrity. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 1(1), A91-A99.
  • Reed, S. A. (2015). SafeAssign as a Tool for Student Identification of Potential Plagiarism in an Animal Science Writing Course. Natural Sciences Education, 44(1), 95-100.
  • Vanacker, B. (2011). Returning students’ right to access, choice and notice: a proposed code of ethics for instructors using Turnitin. Ethics and information technology, 13(4), 327-338.

A Magic Wall of Best Sellers and More

Magic WallThe COD Library has popular e-books and downloadable audiobooks!

The COD Library has a large collection of popular fiction, graphic novels, biographies, humor and more-- all available through Axis360. The Axis360 collection features a wide variety of downloadable audiobooks and ebooks that you can enjoy for free on Android, Apple, Kindle, Nook and Windows devices.

Getting started with Axis360 is easy! Just download a free app from the Axis360 AppZone and use your COD Library card to checkout e-books and audiobooks from the Library’s Magic Wall. You can keep titles on your device for up to 21 days. We’re adding best sellers and new releases to our collection regularly-- bookmark the Magic Wall and look for Just Added titles, New Releases and Staff Picks.

For more information about device compatibility, installing apps, downloading titles and more, visit the Axis360 Help page.


You can have 2 items checked out at any time.

The default loan period is 14 days, but you can check out books and audiobooks for up to 21 days at a time.

Yes! Learn how to return materials from your specific device at http://help.axis360.baker-taylor.com/

Yes! If an e-book or audiobook is already checked out, you can request a hold. When that title becomes available, you will receive an email notifying you that your hold item is available for checkout. For more information about holds, see the Axis360 Help page. Search Axis Help for placing holds using your specific device.

Yes-- if no one else has the title on hold, you can renew items from the COD Library’s Axis360 page. For more information on renewing items, see the Axis360 Help page “How to renew a title.”

You will need a PC or mobile device to be able to download and read or listen to a digital title from Axis 360. Visit the COD Library’s Axis 360 App Zone to download a reader for your PC or mobile device.

Axis360 is compatible with many popular e-book readers, audio players and operating systems. For a complete list see the Axis360 Device Compatibility page.

New Titles for College Success, English Language Learning and Teaching

Keys to Success

Keys to Success for Adult Learners by Carol Carter and Sarah Lyman Kravits
LB2342.32 .C375 2014

Keys to Success for English Language Learners by Carol Carter and Sarah Lyman Kravits
LB2343.32 .C3745 2014

Keys to Success for Digital Learners by Carol Carter and Sarah Lyman Kravits
LB2343.32 .C374 2014


Ownership: Study Strategies by Megan Stone
LB2395 .S763 2014

Ownership: Critical Thinking by Megan Stone
LB2395.35 .S76 2014

Ownership: Effective Planning by Megan Stone
LB2395.4 .S76 2014

Ownership: Accountability by Megan Stone
LB2395 .S758 2014

Tips for Teaching

Tips for Teaching Pronunciation: A Practical Approach by Linda Lane and H. Douglas Brown
PE1128.A2 L2923 2010

Tips for Teaching Listening: A Practical Approach by Jack C. Richards and Ann Burns
PE1128.A2 R4923 2012

Tips for Teaching Culture: Practical Approaches to Intercultural Communication by Ann C. Wintergerst and Joe McVeigh
PE1128.A2 W568 2011

Longman Academic Writing Series

Longman Academic Writing Series. 1, Sentences to Paragraphs by Linda Butler
PE1408 .L66 2014

The Longman Academic Writing, Level 2 : Paragraphs by Ann Hogue and Jennifer Bixby
PE1408 .L662 2014

Longman Academic Writing Series. 3 : Paragraphs to Essays by Alice Oshima
PE1408 .L663 2014

Longman Academic Writing Series, Level 4 : Essays by Alice Oshima, Ann Hogue and Lara Ravitch
PE1408 .L664 2014

Longman Academic Writing Series. Level 5, Essays to Research Papers by Alan Meyers
PE1408 .L665 2014

More Notable New Titles

Longman Business English Dictionary
PE1127.B86 L66 2007

Longman student grammar of spoken and written English by Douglas Biber, Geoffrey N. Leech, Susan Conrad
PE1112 .L662 2002

Teaching by principles : an interactive approach to language pedagogy by H. Douglas Brown and Heeykyeong Lee
P51 .B7754 2015

English Vocabulary Games
PE1449 .G865 2014

Clear Speech from the Start: Basic Pronunciation and Listening Comprehension in North American English by Judy B. Gilbert
PE1128 .G518 2012

Think Like a Novice

Threshold Concepts in College Research

Do you remember when you learned how to "do" research? At some point, something clicked and you understood the process and could replicate it on demand - you may have even grown to love it!
That moment, when the light bulb goes off is an important part of the transition from "novice" to "master" - you have passed a threshold of understanding that is both transformative and irreversible. In this webinar, we will discuss the threshold concepts that students must be guided over in their own journeys toward information literacy mastery.


View the Presentation Slides


  • Blackmore, M. (2010). Student engagement with information: applying a threshold concept approach to information literacy development. Paper presented at the 3rd Biennial Threshold Concepts Symposium: Exploring transformative dimensions of threshold concepts. Sydney, Australia 1-2 July, 2010.
  • Cousin, G. (2006). An introduction to threshold concepts. Planet, 17, 4-5.
  • Meyer, J. H. F., & Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (1): Linkages to ways of thinking and practising. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving student learning: Ten years on (pp.1-16). Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.
  • Townsend, L., Brunetti, K., & Hofer, A. R. (2011). Threshold concepts and information literacy. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 11(3), 853.

View the Webinar Recording from 27 April, 2015 (48 minutes):



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