SourcecriticismPrematNu2020.pdf (1.34 MB)

Deepening source criticism in higher education to avoid plagiarism

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conference contribution
posted on 09.10.2020 by Christophe Premat

This is a presentation made during the pedagogical conference NU2020 (7-9 October 2020)

What should teachers do with Wikipedia?

Many students at the university do not really know how to find relevant information and cite important sources in their field. On the one hand, the challenge is even more difficult in language courses as the students focus on skills without paying attention to source information. In this perspective, they get used to plagiarism attitudes consisting in patchwriting strategies (Pecorari, 2015). On the other hand, teachers do not have time to help students to find the required information, they take this competency for granted in higher education. This contrast can reinforce misunderstandings between students and teachers and lead to a form of passive plagiarism, where students seek for information and gather different meanings taken in different sources. This mimetic attitude has to be questioned at the very beginning of the academic life (Krathwohl, 2002). By preparing students to a better reflection on their sources and by inviting teachers to pay attention to source criticism, a generic form of “constructive alignment” is possible (Hunt, Chalmers, 2012). The presentation proposes an exercise to test the critical capacity of students when it comes to the use of Wikipedia sources. The experiment was made during three semesters in a class of French (“Culture and society in France”) where the students had to study different materials including some Wikipedia articles recommended by the teacher (Premat, 2019). When they wrote the exam, they had to answer a metalinguistic question on the use of Wikipedia articles. The presentation analyzes the answers of the students by proposing a typology of discourses and attitudes on Wikipedia sources.

There is a paradox between students’ practices (almost all of them recognize that they use Wikipedia) and between the discourse that they have (most of them would not dare citing a Wikipedia article in an academic essay). The presentation proposes pedagogical activities where students would be encouraged to deepen source criticism (Peters, Cadieux, 2019; Premat, 2020).

-Hunt, L., Chalmers, D. (eds.) (2012). University teaching in focus: a learning-centred approach. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

-Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: an overview. Theory into practice, vol. 41, n. 4, 212-218.

-Pecorari, D. (2015). Plagiarism in second language writing: Is it time to close the case? Journal of Second Language Writing, 30, pp. 94-99.

-Peters, M., Cadieux, A. (2019). Are Canadian professors teaching the skills and knowledge students need to prevent plagiarism?. International Journal of Educational Integrity 15, 10 (2019). (See a summary in Aktuell högskolepedagogisk forskning, 1, 2020,

-Premat, C. (2019). Hur kan man lära studenter att undvika plagiering? Figshare. Paper. DOI:

-Premat, C. E. (2020). Wikipedia Practices, Quick Facts, and Plagiarism in Higher Education. In E. Ezza, & T. Drid (Eds.), Teaching Academic Writing as a Discipline-Specific Skill in Higher Education (pp. 199-221). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. https://doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-2265-3.ch009


Project funded by the Faculty of Humanities (Stockholm University) number 49165211

Pedagogical ambassador 2018 (Centre for the Advancement for University Teaching)


Original title

Deepening source criticism in higher education to avoid plagiarism

Original language


Associated Publication

Premat, C. E. (2020). Wikipedia Practices, Quick Facts, and Plagiarism in Higher Education. In E. Ezza, & T. Drid (Eds.), Teaching Academic Writing as a Discipline-Specific Skill in Higher Education (pp. 199-221). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Affiliation (institution of first SU-affiliated author)

165 Romanska och klassiska institutionen | Department of Romance Studies and Classics