A forum for educators who are organizing and/or running a school or local science fair, working with in-class science projects or assignments, and other STEM issues.

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Postby ScienceRocks03 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:24 pm

science Buddies - Plagiarism is always such a concern when science project time rolls around. Are there tips you can suggest to help with this so that students (and their families) better understand the issue and so that we (as teachers) can feel more confident that our students are doing their own work?

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Re: Plagiarism

Postby amyc » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:40 pm

Hi ScienceRocks03 - Plagiarism is something with which we, too, are always concerned. No amount of plagiarism is okay, and you are right that explaining to students what plagiarism is -- and what it looks like when it's very easy to pull up search materials that can be copied and pasted in place without attribution -- is a crucial step. We have resources and samples on the Science Buddies site for writing bibliographies. We also offer suggestions for helping to cover plagiarism here: ... plagiarism

Many teachers spot-check student titles or key phrases from reports in a search engine to help ensure original work.

One of the benefits of having students work with Science Buddies Project Ideas is that our projects do not provide the "answers" for students. In order to complete the project, answer the question, and prove or disprove a hypothesis (that the student has formulated), the Experimental Procedure needs to be actively followed. So the student has to "do" the experiment to complete the assignment. Teachers who have classes use Science Buddies Project Ideas are also able to quickly reference the Project Ideas and look through the introductory and background materials to ensure student reports are original.

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Re: Plagiarism

Postby MelissaB » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:13 am

Unfortunately, teachers at all levels have to struggle with this question. I occasionally have good luck by describing what happens to scientists in the real world when they plagiarize/cheat (including that it lowers the public's estimation of scientists as a whole). Also, I ask them how they would feel if I took the paper they turned in, took their name off of it, and used it as an example of a bad paper in future years--not exactly plagiarism, but as close as you can get to 'stealing' their work. It helps them understand that taking things without permission is not good and that it does hurt someone. So many of them see plagiarism as a victimless crime, I think.

I don't know if that helps--all of my other strategies are geared toward college students (e.g. 'you will fail my class and be reported to the dean if you plagiarize').
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