I have been an advocate of the use of plagiarism detection / deterrent software ever since I was shown the benefit. The first time I saw TurnItIn in action was when I had to demonstrate it to a group of undergraduate students almost three years ago now, as part of a pilot study in the Business School.
Don’t forget my previous, recent, post on plagiarism: Video – A Plagiarism Carol
For various reasons we stopped using TurnItIn, but we are now getting ready for it’s re-introduction to our Blackboard installation, and I have started to see blog posts and various other links about an imminent upgrade to TurnItIn … TurnItIn 2.
Planned for an August launch (I wonder when we will be able to make use of upgrades?) it is looking like TurnItIn is upping the game in the plagiarism detection and deterrence industry, and are making the changes to help both students detect and the Institution to deter plagiarism.
“The biggest change is that student work will be shown with full formatting, including diagrams and figures. The matching text is highlighted in situ, a little like using a highlighter pen on real paper. This will give a far more intuitive feel to the analysis of originality reports and include a huge amount of context in a very visual way. The current system of highlighting matches using boxing out, tends to over emphasize their importance and makes it difficult to judge the amount and severity of the non-original text. Including figures will help us to judge whether the figures have been properly used and referenced.”
By all accounts the changes are only going to make TurnItIn an easier and clearer system to use, and hopefully encourage staff and students to make use of it’s facilities to ensure good honest work.
There is one downside for any Institution that relies on anything like plagiarism software; it will only look for the originality of the work. It does not, and cannot, replace the tutor’s knowledge of the individual who is supposed to have written the piece. There are many websites out there where, for a measly £75 or more you can buy a totally original assignment. Only the tutors knowledge of the student and their writing style will enable them to determine whether the student actually wrote the piece they submitted.
So, do you use any system for plagiarism detection (or deterrence), do you allow students to upload themselves to check for correct referencing, are your staff happy or comfortable using something like TurnItIn? What kind of emphasis do you put on the use of TurnItIn, is it for detection or is it as a deterrence?