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Turnitin Study Reveals 10 Most Frequent and Problematic Types of Plagiarism in Student Writing

Posted May 11, 2012
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Turnitin has announced the results of a new survey of nearly 900 instructors that classifies the most frequent and troubling forms of plagiarism. According to instructors, blatant plagiarism-submitting another's writing word-for-word as one's own-is the most prevalent and troublesome type of plagiarism seen in the classroom.

The survey asked higher and secondary education instructors to rank the frequency and problematic nature of 10 distinct types of plagiarism as defined by the Turnitin Plagiarism Spectrum. The Spectrum uses digital terminology to identify the types of plagiarism and assigns a severity level for each form based on the degree of student intent.

The full study, entitled "The Plagiarism Spectrum: Instructor Insights into the 10 Types of Plagiarism," is available at 

Key findings of the study include:

  • One of the most frequent types of plagiarism noted by instructors is the mixing-and-matching of cited and plagiarized materials in students' writing.
  • Instructors say that paraphrasing from multiple sources to make content fit together seamlessly without attribution is among the least problematic for them-even though this type of plagiarism is high in severity and is encountered fairly frequently.
  • Educators are challenged to deal with more blatant forms of plagiarism where student intent to plagiarize is clear.

"Nearly every school has an academic integrity policy, yet instructors tell us that blatant, intentional plagiarism is still frequently encountered," said Chris Harrick, vice president of marketing at Turnitin. "This study helps educators identify the nuances between the various forms of plagiarism and gives them some insights to effectively address plagiarism with their students."

Source: Turnitin,

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