Supporting quality scholarly work – preventing plagiarism

The Internet gives everyone and anyone fast and convenient access to information, datasets and scientific publications. However, the flipside of this welcome development in terms of data availability is that it also creates opportunities for the misuse of information provided by third parties.

Cases of plagiarised assignments have been discovered in the education sector not just at other universities but also at the German Sport University Cologne, the content of which had been copied from the Internet. Owing to this experience at other universities and the wide range of information available on the Internet, it is assumed that 30 percent of continuous texts processed are plagiarised. The German Sport University Cologne is giving its students and exam candidates access to the university-specific "PlagScan" plagiarism detection software with immediate effect in order to safeguard the academic quality of written assignments and dissertations.

The PlagScan software analyses and compares the documents uploaded to all sources available on the Internet, online documents held at the central repository and all documents stored in a comparison database the German Sport University has created itself over time. One of the benefits is that users do not need to install any software as they can use the programme in any browser once they have access to the Internet. Students and examiners only need to complete four simple steps to check documents for plagiarism (exact instructions are outlined in the following):

  1. Register via the VPN client/Register with PlagScan
  2. Upload document(s) in any format
  3. Start check
  4. View report in one of four types of reports.

By giving students access to PlagScan, the German Sport University Cologne is endeavouring to help students perform correct scholarly work on the one hand, while furnishing experts grading final dissertations and all lecturers grading assignments with a useful tool on the other. The article published by Sebastian Sattler, Constantin Wiegel & Floris van Veen on the methods for preventing and detecting academic dishonesty may perhaps be helpful for those in grading academic work.

It already stipulates in the Exam Regulations for all B.A. and M.A. courses that all students enrolled at the German Sport University Cologne are obliged to have their theses checked by the plagiarism detection software and to submit the report generated by the software along with their thesis to the Examinations Office. The User Guide for the plagiarism detection software provides additional information and tips for students and examiners – also on the consequences ensuing from the results of the plagiarism report.