Plagiarism: A case study of quality improvement in a taught postgraduate programme

Rebecca Taylor, Tom Marshall, Eleanor Hothersall, L Perez-Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Plagiarism is a common issue in education. Software can detect plagiarism but little is known about prevention. Aims: To identify ways to reduce the incidence of plagiarism in a postgraduate programme. Methods: From 2006, all student assignments were monitored using plagiarism detection software (Turn It In) to produce percentage text matches for each assignment. In 2007, students were advised software was being used, and that plagiarism would result in penalties. In 2008, students attending a key module took part in an additional interactive seminar on plagiarism. A separate cohort of students did not attend the seminar, allowing comparison between attendees and non-attendees. Results: Between 2006 and 2007, mean percentage text match values were consistent with a stable process, indicating advice and warnings were ineffective. Control chart analysis revealed that between 2007 and 2008, mean percentage text match changes showed a reduced text match in all nine modules, where students attended the interactive seminar, but none where students did not. This indicated that the interactive seminar had an effect. In 2008, there were no occurrences of plagiarism. Improvements were maintained in 2009. Conclusions: Advice and warnings against plagiarism were ineffective but a subsequent interactive seminar was effective at reducing plagiarism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E375-E381
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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