A Librarian Asks, “How Do I Create Effective Plagiarism Scenarios?”

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Plagiarism is often the subject of oversimplified lectures that leave students with only a vague sense of what they should or shouldn’t do. In this column, Debbie Abilock introduces scenario-based learning as an alternative approach to exploring this important subject, demonstrating how reading about relevant situations and discussing them with our students can improve their ability to apply this knowledge to their own academic work.


Plagiarism is a kind of fraud in which you represent the creative work of others as your own to “gain something of value.”1 While the definition seems clear, practices are varied and situations are nuanced, which is why scenarios are effective as teaching tools. By portraying ambiguous situations and likely pitfalls, scenarios should encourage thoughtful responses and lead to principled decision-making…

MLA Handbook, 8th ed. (New York, NY: Modern Language Association of America, 2016), [Page 7]; American Psychological Association, “Plagiarism,” APA Style, accessed November 8, 2020, https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/plagiarism.

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