Plagiarism Check Policy
The Graduate School requires that all dissertations and theses must be submitted for a plagiarism check through SafeAssign in Blackboard (or similar tool) prior to the defense. The Graduate School further requires that the student's dissertation/thesis advisor or program graduate director certify that the dissertation/thesis has been checked through SafeAssign. The Defense Final Report form or a memo may be used to transmit the certification to the Graduate School.
Departments will determine their own guidelines for these checks, for how they deal with the results revealed by SafeAssign, and for remedies to address indications of plagiarism, consistent with existing policies and codes of conduct. The graduate director typically is in the best position to perform the checks, evaluate the results and discuss the results with the student and their advisor.
Plagiarism is a concern at universities nationwide, with reports in the Chronicle of Higher Education of whole dissertations being plagiarized. The Academic Standards Committee examined 20 dissertations from graduated Wayne State students. Of those, two had a high percentage of plagiarism. That was a sufficiently high number to warrant a mandatory dissertation/thesis check through SafeAssign.
Because of the nature of SafeAssign, care and judgment are required for a fair evaluation of indications of plagiarism. For example, a high plagiarism score may reflect a student's own previous publications. Assessing the results provided by SafeAssign is more art than science.
The Office of Research Integrity (ORI)* funded the creation of a handbook on plagiarism and the ethics of academic writing. Even though this was intended for the sciences, it can be applicable to various disciplines. View the ORI's Guide to Ethical Writing.
* ORI is a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.