Clayton School of Information Technology

Seminar series for students, Semester 1, 2009

When: Tuesday 4th May, 12noon

Where: Room 135, Building 26.


Topic: “Plagiarism: why it happens, how to detect it (with Damocles),

and, most importantly, how to prevent it”



Ideas, and their expressions in words, are the academic’s stock-in-trade. Plagiarism is thus often seen as the cardinal academic sin. Plagiarism is also seen as a major offence when committed by students: at best a serious case of sloppiness, at worst a form of cheating. In this talk I will reflect on eight years of hunting plagiarism, both in student work and academic papers. I will consider some of the reasons that students plagiarise, and discuss how we might modify our assessment and teaching practices to reduce the incidence of plagiarism.

In the course of this reflection, I will demonstrate the Damocles plagiarism detection system (, which I developed. Damocles has now been used in hundreds of units at Monash, in IT, BusEco, Arts, and Law. Damocles is at heart a text retrieval system, honed for a particular purpose. I will indicate some of the issues I have encountered in developing such a system, and migrating it to a “production” environment.


Speaker’s Biography:

Dr David Squire is a senior lecturer in the Clayton School of Information Technology. Prior to joining the Faculty of Information Technology at Monash in 2000, he was a Research Fellow in the Computer Vision Group at the University of Geneva. He has worked on invariant pattern recognition, machine learning, multimedia indexing and retrieval (including the development of the GNU GIFT CBIR system), model-based image segmentation, and plagiarism detection.