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Strategies to Avoid Plagiarism

To get started, review the Foothill Academic Integrity policy.

Then see strategies to avoid plagiarism.

In online courses, teachers sometimes have difficulty determining if students have plagiarized or are submitting their own work. As a student, you can prevent any misunderstandings about the originality of your written work by following some of the following strategies.

Strategy 1 Take Plagiarism Test

Take the Practice test to determine how much you already know about plagiarism. Too easy? Try the Plagiarism Quiz.

Strategy 2 Know Plagiarism Examples

Be sure you know the definition of plagiarism, what style guide is required by your instructor and how to follow it. Take a look at these Plagiarism Examples.

Strategy 3 Be Organized

One of the best ways to avoid plagiarism is to use a well organized process for researching and writing your assignment or essay. Sometimes students plagiarize accidentally simply by rushing the research process and/or keeping sloppy records of references.

First, set up a timeline for completion of your written assignment using the Assignment Calculator. That way you can stay on track and avoid writing your paper at the last minute and making careless mistakes.

Next, use a careful system for keeping track of your references as you go along your research process.

Strategy 4 Use Turnitin

Some instructors use an online service, such as Turnitin, to check their students' written work for plagiarism. You may want to learn more about Turnitin services for yourself BEFORE you submit your written work to your instructor.

Strategy 5 Understand Assignment Expectations

After writing and submitting any written assignment you ought to be able to answer the following questions from your instructor.

  • What did you learn from the assignment?
  • What problems did you face in gathering information you needed and how did you overcome them?
  • What research strategy did you follow?
  • Where did you locate most of your sources?
  • What is the most important thing you learned from investigating this subject?

Answering these questions will help you think about your own learning as well as provide evidence to your instructor that you did your own work. If your knowledge of written work you submit is sketchy then your instructor may be concerned.

Strategy 6 Examine Other Perspectives

Imagine serving as a student representative on a Student Appeals Committee where you have to decide on a grade in a student plagiarism situation.

  • What evidence would you want from both the instructor and the student?
  • How would you decide if the student plagiarized or if it was an honest mistake?
  • What are some benefits of citing sources in written work?
  • What skill-building opportunities are lost by students who plagiarize?

External Resources about Plagiarism

Reporting a Complaint or Concern

We want every student to have a positive experience at Foothill College. If you have a complaint or concern about a situation, here are some different ways to request a closer review and a fair resolution.

Request Assistance with a Complex Issue

If you have a problem with a college process or other situation and haven’t been able to resolve it with the department involved, you can use this form to request assistance from the Office of Student Affairs. While we can’t guarantee a specific outcome, we may be able to assist with navigating a complex issue. Before submitting a request, you should first seek a resolution with the office or program that’s directly responsible for your issue. 

File A Grievance About a College Decision or Action

If you believe a college decision or action has wrongly affected your status or rights as a student, you can file a formal grievance to seek a resolution.

Before you file a grievance, you should make your best attempt to solve the matter informally by following the steps outlined on the Student Grievance Procedure webpage. (This page summarizes the process outlined in the Foothill-De Anza college district Administrative Procedure 5530.)

After following those steps, and after consulting with the appropriate administrator, you may file a formal grievance. Here are some examples of issues that a grievance might address:

  • Course grades involving a mistake, fraud, error, bad faith or incompetence, in accordance with Education Code Section 76224(a)
  • Arbitrary actions or imposition of sanctions without proper regard to due process
  • Infringement on the exercise of free expression as protected by state and federal laws, including Education Code Section 76120
  • Acts or threats of intimidation or harassment, not related to sexual harassment or discrimination
  • Acts or threats of physical aggression

File A Complaint – Sexual Harassment or Discrimination (Title IX)

If you think you have experienced sexual harassment or discrimination at Foothill College, you may contact the college Title IX coordinator for an informal conversation or to file a formal complaint.

You may also report a Title IX concern or complaint to any college employee. They will inform the Title IX coordinator, who will follow up with you to offer support and conduct an investigation as appropriate. You’ll find more information about Title IX and sex- or gender-based harassment and discrimination on the Title IX website.

File A Complaint – Harassment or Discrimination (Not Title IX)

Unlawful harassment can include being subjected to a hostile environment, or being denied access to college programs or resources, based on factors such as age, disability, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. 

If you think you have experienced unlawful harassment or discrimination at Foothill, you may contact the college unlawful harassment coordinator for an informal conversation by sending an email to Catalina Rodriguez, Dean of Students,, or you may file an informal complaint, which may allow for resolution through mediation under Section VII.B of district Administrative Procedure 4640. 

If you would like to file a formal complaint, which may lead to a formal investigation and administrative determination under Section VII.C-F and Sections IX and X of district Administrative Procedure 4640, please refer to the following: and use the district form linked below.

Information on Harassment and Discrimination  – Foothill-De Anza Community College District

File A Complaint About College Police 

If you have a complaint about the conduct of any officer or employee of the Foothill-De Anza district police department, you may file a complaint by clicking the yellow button to open the department's fillable complaint form.


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