Winning combination for collaboration on plagiarism: SMU Libraries and Student Council of Discipline (SCD)

By Mei Tan*

(17 April 2018) Plagiarism in higher education is a reality that will not go away any time soon.   In Singapore Management University (SMU) Libraries, we observed that there had been an increase in requests for plagiarism workshops in recent years.   We also realised from the onset that conducting library workshops on plagiarism would not be sustainable in the long-run.

The Library looked into creating a standalone online course on SMU’s learning management platform (Desire2Learn) on the topic of plagiarism with the intention of making it accessible not just to undergraduates but postgraduate students as well.   Moreover, this vision was consistent with the University’s pedagogical goal of enhancing and transforming learning experience through blended learning.   Although the online module was created to be an entity on its own, it was also complemented by library workshops and by research consultations for more individualised assistance.

With the help of an e-Learning vendor, the online content (previously delivered in PowerPoint slides) was transformed into new learning objects making the topic much more interactive and animating.   Subsequently, the revised version of Avoiding Plagiarism through the APA Style was rolled out to all first years enrolled in the mandatory Programme in Writing and Reasoning (PWR) in the fall of 2017.

Although the project was successful in many ways, we saw a need to get the content “out” to the relevant stakeholders rather than wait for them to come to us.   Hence, the Library decided to come up with a marketing and communication outreach plan.   One of our more innovative approaches was to work with a student group called the Student Council of Discipline (SCD).   These students, appointed by the SMU Provost, together with the Dean of Students’ office, work with the school community to uphold SMU’s core value of integrity.   We saw the potential in collaborating with SCD and the likely impact this partnership would have on SMU community as a whole.

This alliance saw us coming together for the very first time to hold a joint poster design competition centred on the topic on academic integrity.   Participants were encouraged to explore and use content from Avoiding Plagiarism through the APA Style for their posters.   A link to this online module was hosted on the library website to give easier access to the participants or to anyone who may be interested in using our online resources.

We had a total of 35 entries.   In many ways, we were heartened by the participation rate as the initial call for submissions only yielded 5 responses.   To gauge the success of the collaboration based on the number of submissions would be a little too short-sighted in my opinion.   For the most part, I felt that the poster competition was a success because at the end of the day, the collaboration generated interest and greater publicity among SMU students about Avoiding Plagiarism through the APA Style.   To top it off, both sides (i.e. Library and SCD) felt that it was a good collaboration and will most likely revisit this again in the conceivable future!

*Mei Tan is a Librarian at Singapore Management University (SMU) Libraries