Search out the plagiarist

14th May 2004 at 01:00
Suspicious teachers can spot cheats a mile off by tell-tale signs in their coursework, according to an academic. Dr Chris Willmott of Leicester University devised a plan four years ago to prevent plagiarism in academic coursework. Since then he has only had two cases.

He believes teachers can learn to recognise the writing style of their students so that they can see when submitted work deviates. And if they suspect the work is not the student's own they only need to type five or six words from the pupil's essay on to a web search engine to check it.

Other signs that show work has been lifted from the net, include American spellings, changes to font or formatting for no reason, number references when there is no relevant reference at the end of the essay and references from obscure or overseas publications.

Teachers can make life harder for cheats by specifying books or websites to be used for research.

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