The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Assessment Design to Prevent Plagiarism

The following practices will encourage academic honesty or make it difficult for students to plagiarise.


Recommended Actions

Resources and References

I.    Clarify expectations


1.    Set clear expectations for each assessment task including the studentsˇ¦ role and the importance of academic honesty. Inform students at the beginning of the subject.


2.    Set clear assessment and grading criteria.


3.    Ensure students understand individual requirements in group assessment.


II.    Educate students to prevent plagiarism


5.     Introduce/reinforce/discuss the following:

a.   What constitutes plagiarism? (use discipline examples to illustrate)

b.   Why is plagiarism not acceptable?

c.   Government/societyˇ¦s views and policy on plagiarism

d.   The Universityˇ¦s policy on plagiarism and the penalties that go with it

Useful articles on educating students to prevent plagiarism:

Anti-Plagiarism Strategies for Research Papers

Avoiding Plagiarism

6.    Provide clear and explicit instructions to students on disciplinary specific requirements for citation and referencing practice.



7.    Ask students to complete an Honour Declaration for each (major) assessment task they hand in.

Examples of Honour Declaration's forms

III.   Make it difficult to plagiarise


8.     Use a combination of assessment methods.


9.     Avoid direct repetition of previous assessment questions. Set different topics for assessment for different years.

See ˇ§Strategies of Detectionˇ¨ in

10.  Design assessment questions focusing on evaluation and application of information rather than on memorization of facts and reproduction of materials.


11.   Design assessment tasks that demand:

a.   Intermediate steps and processes rather than just a final answer (as a check, call for an outline, draft, or an annotated bibliography at different stages, and expect the students to hand these back in with the final assignment)

b.   Specific data e.g., interview data, observations from industrial/clinical placements

c.   Real life examples; unique, recent or local events

d.   Personal reflections, views or relate to personal circumstances

e.   An integration of theory and practice

f.   Most recent references

g.   The actual location of references as well as the reference itself (in some circumstances a photocopy of the first page of the reference might also be asked for)


Some examples of assessment focusing on individual work and discouraging plagiarism include reflective diaries/ journals, portfolio assessment, case studies, individual projects.

A helpful web-based resource on designing assessment to improve learning:

Designing Assessment to Improve Physical Sciences Learning designing_assessment/exams.htm

12.   Incorporate an oral presentation into the assessment.


13.   Keep copies of student work from previous years to detect plagiarism.


IV.  Help students cope with assessment


14.   Ensure appropriate assessment workload, and even distribution of assessment workload amongst all subjects.


15.   Provide adequate and appropriate support to students on matters relating to assessment.


16.   Ensure that there is equitable / sufficient access to resources and study materials so that students do not resort to plagiarism.


17.   Make the task interesting and worthwhile.


18.   Be realistic about the size of assignments you set: quantity can get in the way of quality.



Revised: August 2008

First version: 26 August 2003