Turnitin.com and Other Resources Against Plagiarism

By Lauren Haberkorn

Turnitin.com logoPlagiarism has always been an issue in the academic world, but as new tools for detection have become available, students, teachers, and professionals have become more aware of just how big of an issue plagiarism really is. The media has done its job of making us aware of the many accusations of plagiarism that seem to multiple right before our eyes. We are left to wonder—is plagiarism on the rise, or have we only just begun to catch it?

Many students in the university setting are aware of the increase in plagiarism awareness. With the start of the new school year, teachers have reinforced the existing rules and introduced students to new resources, such as turnitin.com. Upon a teacher’s request, students are required to use a class code and password, set up a user name, and submit his or her paper to the website. The website can detect plagiarism that teachers may not have caught themselves, and can access thousands of resources a student may have copied from, or failed to cite.

Students, however, are not the only ones under inspection. The professional world has always taken the time to further inspect the originality of a persons’ work.

In an article published by the Associated Press, in September of 2010, reporter Jacques Billeaud, describes the allegations against Democrat Rodney Glassman who ran against Republican John McCain for the United States Senate. According to Billeaud the allegation is as follows, “Rodney Glassman’s 246-page research paper on teaching children about agriculture contains at least five identical or nearly identical sentences from earlier works by other authors, without footnotes or direct attribution to those works” (2010 Billeaud). Glassman now must deal with this accusation and if found guilty, it will not matter if what he did was intentional or not—he will face the consequences.

Unfortunately, lack of education on the subject matter of plagiarism does not seem to stand out as the reason behind the problem. Professional writers and journalists have had their work come into question as well. Craig Silverman, a reporter for the Columbia Journalism Review, challenges newspapers and magazines to utilize the services available to us today. He states, “…it seems newspaper and magazine companies aren’t interested in checking their work for plagiarism. That’s worth examining given that over the past two weeks, The Daily Beast and The New York Times discovered they had plagiarists on staff”. On a more comforting note, Silverman does remind us that iThenticate, one of the largest and most expensive plagiarism detection services, “has relationships with seventy-five publishers of scientific journals” (2010 Silverman).

Perhaps students can take comfort in the fact, that they are not the only one under such scrutiny today. Furthermore, the required plagiarism exams and the extra time it takes to submit a paper to “turnitin.com” may help a student in the future. For many students, a professor exposing a wrongdoing is a lot less embarrassing than the entire world exposing your mistake five years from now when you’re writing for the New York Times.

Lauren Haberkorn is a junior studying Corporate Communication in the Diederich College of Communication

1 Response to “Turnitin.com and Other Resources Against Plagiarism”

  1. 1 scott March 25, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    The first time I ever heard of Turnitin was when I caught them crawling my blog, adding my writing to their database. Presumably they were doing this against the chance that someone might plagiarize me. I kept wondering, though, whether it was ethical for them to utilize my words to advance their business goals without my permission. Eventually I put a stop to it, preventing them from using any more of my content.

    Recognizing the need to weed out plagiarists in academic settings, I often wonder whether it is used as a lame substitute for actually reading student work (or reading it thoroughly). It’s time-consuming to wade through dozens or hundreds of student papers, and such work requires a lot of faculty hours. To what extent do services like Turnitin enable institutions to understaff their classrooms? I certainly don’t know, but it thought concerns me.

    Also, I keep thinking it’s a matter of time before some enterprising student finds a way to put his/her professor’s dissertation through the same wringer that student work is–to the embarrassment of the entire institution. So far I don’t think anyone has done this, but again, it’s a worrisome thought.

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