A report released today by the plagiarism-detection tool TurnItIn confirms what a lot of teachers already know: that students are copying content from online sources. According to the report, for both high school and college students, Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers were the top two most popular sources of lifted copy.
But another interesting fact emerged from the report about the difference between high school and college students. While 31% of content matches for high school students came from social and “content-sharing” sites (like Facebook or Yahoo Answers), just 26% of the matches for college students originated there.
College students were more likely to use content from cheat sites and paper mills, the report finds: 19.6% of content matches in college students’ papers came from those sites, whereas just 14.1% of matches to high school students’ papers. College students were also more likely to turn to news sites — 16.6% versus 12.3% of college students. And even though Continue reading
Last week’s post about how the Internet affects plagiarism brought up some interesting points of discussion.
Readers are parsing the difference between copying information verbatim without citing the source, and paraphrasing information gleaned from sources like Wikipedia.
One reader writes:
As a graduate student and researcher, 80% of what I do is not expressing original thoughts, but accurately understanding, coherently organizing, and properly attributing other people’s thoughts. I realize TurnItIn focuses on essays and term papers, not research, but perhaps what we really need is better education on how to attribute and use sources.
Another reader takes a step back and frames the conversation in terms of information ownership:
We are entering an age where ownership of information is becoming increasingly shared or indeterminate. Therefore, it’s time to re-think the concept of plagiarism.
This young generation of thinkers sees intellectual property very differently than my older generation does. I believe we are not far from an era where most information is considered public property and one’s intellectual value is measured by what one can do with information rather than by how much one knows. In this new world, plagiarism will become irrelevant. Continue reading
Plagiarism is nothing new. Students have been plagiarizing far before the Internet was widely available — whether it was copying from the encyclopedia or hiring professionals. But the Internet and the explosion of online resources has made it easier for students to get to those resources. You’ll find a number of websites geared specifically to cheating — sites where you can buy papers, for example. But even if students opt not to pay-to-cheat, the Internet does seem to make it easier to lift content. It’s as easy as copy-and-paste.
But by those very same standards, it also means that plagiarism is much easier to identify. Even without purchasing expensive plagiarism-tracking software, instructors can Google suspicious-sounding sentences from students’ work and determine whether or not they’ve lifted content from online resources.
Even though plagiarism is often easily identifiable via a simple Web search, many schools have opted to purchase one of the many plagiarism-checking software programs currently on the market. One of the best known options is TurnItIn, which has just released an interesting white paper, based on the 40 million some-odd papers that have been submitted and analyzed by the site.
Some of the key finds from the paper include:
- Plagiarism is going social: One-third of all content matched in the study is from social networks, content sharing or question-and-answer sites where users contribute and share content. Continue reading