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Table 1 Categories of other referencing or citation irregularities

From: Detecting contract cheating in essay and report submissions: process, patterns, clues and conversations

Category Explanation/example
Reference list provided without any intext citations Where a reference list is included without any intext citations in the body text, there is no relationship between the sources and the use of sources. This may also indicate that a reference list has been borrowed from somewhere else and just placed at the end of the assessment task
Reference list and intext citations do not match There is no relationship or correlation between the reference list and intext citations. Usually an indicator of the body text being borrowed from another source, and placed with a reference list from another source
Inappropriate sources Sources in the reference list may include sources such as sites selling essays (such as UK Essays) and example or sample assignments. In these cases the student has included the source information but does not understand that these are inappropriate sources to use
Irrelevant sources There may be entries in the reference list that are not relevant to the discipline, assessment topic or subject matter.
For example:
An assessment on the cross-cultural concept of power distance (Hofstede, 1980) had a reference included on ‘switchable distance-based impedance matching networks’ i.e. electrical power distance.
Does not meet referencing/bibliographic criteria requirements set for the assessment task Set criteria may include:
Minimum/maximum number of references
Type of references (journals/books/websites)
Use of specific references/seminal papers/particular authors
Date range of eligible references (e.g. post 2000 only)
Observing where students do not meet the criteria provides another clue or observation point.
For example: Where students are required to use journal articles from the year 2000 onwards and intext citations and the reference list shows books from the 1980’s this may be an indicator of using an old textbook as the source of their writing/references.
Access date on internet / dates on internet sources A reference list entry for the current year with an access date of an older year should be noted as an irregularity, particularly where it is outside the student’s candidature, or matches to the assignment due dates of a previous instance of the subject.
Presentation of references in foreign languages particularly where unrelated to the students’ background While some students may include references from articles studied at other institutions, presentation of references unrelated to the student are worth noting.
For example:
An international student from South East Asia presented 4 references in Polish, referencing a Polish institution in Warsaw. Two were seminal papers available in English and referred to in class. The student had purchased essays written by someone in Poland, but due to poor English language skills did not review what they had purchased and did not detect the discrepancy.
Old dated references linked to contemporary organisations or recent concepts/findings For example:
A reference dated 1965 but citing Microsoft as the company being researched
A reference dated before a discovery took place or a theory published
Bibliographic ‘mashups’ (Rogerson, 2014) A mix of bibliographic information (books, journals, news articles) within the one reference entry
For example:
Tribune, H. (2008) Engineering leadership and Anticipation in Australia. Journal of Economy, Australia: Queensland Edition.
The journal does not exist, there are no state based editions of journals, and Tribune H ended up being the Herald Tribune. This particular example was sourced by the student from a student file-sharing site. The sharing site was located through a Google search.