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Posted by Marilyn Dispensa at 2:52PM   |  Add a comment

Turnitin by iParadigms has been in the news lately, drawing criticism of their companion product, WriteCheck.  Ithaca College licensed Turnitin for Educators which includes their OriginalityCheck service. [See links below] OriginalityCheck compares a student's submitted work to the web, publications, and other student papers.  The result is a report showing the percent similarity with links from similar passages to the source. iParadigms also offers a student-only product called WriteCheck which allows the student to  to independently check their work for $4.95 per 5000-word paper.  Some have a problem with iParadigm profiting from both helping instructors detect plagiarism and helping students perfect plagiarism enough to avoid detection.  iParadigms claims they are offering students the chance to see if they have unintentionally plagiarized and are helping them to become more responsible and accountable.  See David Harrington's post (link below) for his interesting take on it and his own experiments using Google and Turnitin to search blocks of text.

While some require that student submit their final version of an assignment to Turnitin or spot check suspicious papers, other instructors allow their students to see their Turniin report before handing in their final version.  At IC, in using Turnitin both through Sakai Assignments  or through Turnitin.com, the instructor has this choice. I can argue that perhaps this is a better use of the system. Instead of encouraging students to game the system with creative ways to subvert Turnitin, maybe the better approach is to allow students to see their reports and use it to start a conversation about properly writing and citing.   I encourage some of the folks on the academic side of the house to be aware of this tool and to encourage some discussion about some of the issues that arise.

Here are the readings to get you started. Don't miss the comments on these articles and feel free to start a conversation on this post by commenting below.

Reading list:

Plagiarism Betrayal? Inside Higher Ed Sept 9, 2011 

Plagiarism software WriteCheck troubles some educators   USA Today Sept 9, 2011

(Moral) Hazards of Scanning for Plagiarists: Evidence from Shoplifting David Harrington's Blog Sept 4, 2011

There has also been a lively Twitter stream about this issue in the days after these stories were published.

Students also share their tricks at gaming the system.

  • Writing academic researches for both marketing and management, which passess the turnitin with less than 10% contact me at....
  • Rule #1 in passing .... using right click synonyms, to change a sentence slightly so your essay won't get pulled up on turnitin

 ITS information on Turnitin


 


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