Don’t Cheat! New Technology Detects Plagarism

This just in: Plagiarism is bad. Just in case you somehow missed the fact that copying someone else’s work and calling it your own is an unacceptable practice in high school as well as here at university and throughout your life, we’ll mention it one more time. Plagiarism Bad.

To some, the case would be made that they may not have had enough time to do the proper research. Thus, if they “creatively sampled” works published earlier about the same subject and did not get caught, then they beat the system and the teacher/professor was not doing their background check very well. Others just can’t be bothered to put forth any effort, and simply paying money for a previously submitted “A” paper is just that much easier. In fact, quite an underground black market has emerged for students that buy papers that received high grades in past years. Clearly, the students then submit the paper themselves and come away with a similar grade for next to no effort.

These practices are undermining the education system and teachers are not sitting idly by. In an effort to clean up the systems of higher learning etc., educators are turning to technology and the Internet to detect plagiarized papers and to punish the offenders. A school can simply sign up and become a member of one of these plagiarism detector websites and from there, they can run all submitted work through the system. One such website is www.turnitin.com. A recent signup to the site is Wilfrid Laurier University.

Turnitin.com has grown out of plagiarism.org which was created in 1996 by a group of researchers at the University of California at Berkeley. They created a series of programs designed to monitor the recycling of research papers occurring in their large undergraduate classes. The programs received wide acclaim in the academic community and as such, the researchers teamed up with teachers, mathematicians and computer scientists to create plagiarism.org. This became the Internet’s first plagiarism detection service. The website has continued to evolve and grow and is now the “Internet’s most widely used and trusted resource for educators trying to stop the spread of Internet plagiarism.”

Today the web site boasts over 200,000 registered users at high schools, colleges and universities in over 50 countries, monitoring over 5 million students. Furthermore, users are signing on to turnitin.com at a rate of one every 20 seconds.

Some people may still be convinced that they can beat the system. Well, here’s how turnitin.com works:

– After teachers collect the papers and essays etc. submitted by their students, they send them to turnitin.com
– Usually within 1 day, turnitin.com returns “originality reports” for each paper handed in.
– These reports are exactly the same as the submitted paper, except that any phrases or paragraphs that were copied from a paper that is online or is in turnitin.com’s database are highlighted, underlined and linked to the site where that paper can be found.
– Plus, turnitin.com is constantly updating its database. Every paper submitted to them is filed into it. Some of your papers are probably in the system already.
** Go to www.turnitin.com and check out their example of this “originality report”. It’s horrifyingly effective!

So to sum up, plagiarism is unethical and dishonorable. Further, you can be thrown out of your program, or university entirely, depending on the gravity of the situation. Plus, with this new technology that the teachers are packin’ it just seems that there are too many reasons for you to actually try to write your paper yourself. Who knows, you might even learn something.

November 6, 2002 Blueprint Web Administrator Essays No Comments