How To Avoid or Prevent Plagiarism?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Alexei Druzhinin, The Plagiarism (Source:

The most recent Town Hall on Plagiarism and Intellectual Credit organized by ASIST and the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity was attended by about 190 members of the Duke community. The event is part of a monthly series intended to serve as a public space for interactive discussion, meant to contribute to a cultural shift where research integrity is fostered at all levels and in all aspects of research.

Thus, how best can plagiarism be avoided? “Quote, Cite or Reference”, answers Donna Kessler- citing Scott Moore’s presentation “To Cite or not To Cite” from a workshop at Colorado State. Also, communicate in advance with the publisher or the funder and make sure that you understand the policies, especially on questionable topics, such as self-citation. Or, if you are a PhD candidate, make sure that you discuss with your advisor whether your dissertation should include published work. “Can a student compile three published papers in a PhD dissertation?” asked someone from the audience. Both David Hansen and Cary Moskovitz accepted that this is more often accepted rather than not. “It happens often. We have the “panic time” when students come to us right before the deadline to turn in their dissertations worried that their advisors do not allow them to use the published content”, recalls David Hansen who added that “publisher contracts may or may not explicitly allow authors to use previously published material for a thesis.”

Another method to prevent or avoid plagiarism is to use iThenticate, a software tool that has been brought to Duke by Associate Dean Klingensmith. Faculty and staff at Duke can create accounts and use the tool in order to compare text with a vast database of published text to assess text similarity. In most cases, iThenticate is used as a quality assurance method, adds Dean Klingensmith. It can also serve as a tool to verify student papers and increase awareness on the importance of appropriate citation. If you are interested in learning more about iThenticate, read more in a recent ASIST blog post.

Reporting Plagiarism

For a concern about potential plagiarism, contact the department chair or division chief, Dean, other appropriate institutional official or the misconduct review officer, Donna Kessler.
For a concern about authorship that cannot be resolved within the school, department or unit, contact the chair of the Authorship Dispute Board.
Any integrity concerns can be reported to the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity (DOSI) or the Office of Audit, Risk, and Compliance (OARC).
To report an integrity concern anonymously, call the integrity line at 1-800-826-8109.  The call will not be traced.  You do not need to provide your name.

Acknowledgement: ASIST and Duke Office of Scientific Integrity would like to thank the moderator and distinguished panelists for their participation in the Research Town Hall ”Plagiarism and Intellectual Credit”:

Chris Simon, Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences
Donna Kessler, Research Misconduct Review Officer
John Klingensmith, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Graduate School
Cary Moskovitz, Professor of the Practice in the Thompson Writing Program
David Hansen, Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections
               and Scholarly Communication