Slowing Internet plagiarism on campus is the job of college professors - not college legal departments, says Thomas Rocklin, director of the University of Iowa Center for Teaching in Iowa City.
He offers three tools for preventing research-paper plagiarism:
* Give assignments closely tied to the individual course goals. Students can still buy a custom paper, but that is much more expensive and they are unlikely to get one cheaply off the shelf.
* Ask for and comment on interim writing products. That is: Get a thesis statement, an opening paragraph, an outline, a first draft, and respond to it. That is how students learn to write, he says. It also makes it harder for a student to reconstruct an outline from a plagiarized paper than to write the outline.
* Be open about the existence of term-paper mills. Download a few papers, discuss their strengths and weaknesses. Let students know that you know what is out there - and that most of it is not very good.
Michael Pemberton, director of the University of Illinois (Urbana) Writers' Workshop says instructors must track assignments.
"The worst kind of writing assignment is to make it at the beginning of the term, then have them turn it in at the end without paying any attention in between. Year in and year out, this is the way many university papers are assigned."