A Dramatic strategy against plagiarism

Debbi Boden

Alison Ahearn


Although (or, perhaps, because) Imperial attracts academic ‘hot-shots’, it has shared, from the start, the national concern regarding student information literacy, including plagiarism and referencing. Imperial’s interest in antiplagiarism is heightened by its habit of retaining its own graduates as PhD researchers who require utmost academic probity and appropriate academic skills. Traditionally, Imperial has had a regulatory-discipline approach but that strategy addresses offences: it was clear to the librarians at Imperial that a plagiarismprevention strategy was required and that it needed to be embedded within an information literacy strategy. This paper sets out a description of the information literacy teaching and the specific antiplagiarism tools (both for hearts-and-minds as well as knowledge-and-skills) that have been built up since 2003, with a statement of the underpinning rationale for the approach taken. In particular, it analyses the benefits of collaboration with the enterprise division of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA Enterprises Ltd) in creating online resources designed to capture student interest and shift attitudes on plagiarism. These resources include a 10minute movie homage to David Attenborough (where the species being studied is a student, finding their way through the academic jungle, avoiding the pitfalls of plagiarism), a sci-fi movie with an android learning how not to plagiarise (if a robot can learn to avoid plagiarism, a student can) and a podcast. The types of messages presented (and the types of messages avoided) in these antiplagiarism resources are analysed and discussed. Practical considerations are noted for those interested in making their own tools in future.

This paper was submitted to the International Integrity & Plagiarism Conference which ran between 2004-2014. The paper was peer reviewed by an independent editorial board and features in the conference proceedings.