Tag Archives: plagiarism

Turnitin is quite good, it once showed me that I had plagiarised myself

Gloucestershire College
Gloucestershire College by James Clay

Was reminded of this tweet this week.

Turnitin is quite good, it once showed me that JISC RSC London had plagiarised me. This was back in July 2012.

What happened was that for a Turnitin training session at Gloucestershire College I took three pieces of work.

  • A piece of work which was a straight copy of something from the internet.
  • A second piece which contained quotes of content from other sources.
  • A third and final piece of original content.

Each time I did the training I would have to create a new piece of original content, as once submitted it would flag another submission of the same content as plagiarised or with an originality warning.

So with confidence I went through the three pieces of work, so you can imagine the shock and surprise that the Turnitin system flagged my original content as being copied!

Time for a little detective work. The original piece of work (in theory) was authored by JISC RSC London. Though digging deeper, what had happened was that before then I had written a piece of work, which JISC RSC London then copied and used on their website.

When I wrote my original piece of writing, though it was written completely fresh, it bore a huge similarity to my writing that JISC RSC London had copied.

So what I thought was an original piece of work, was so similar to a piece I had written a fair few years ago, it was picked up by Turnitin. Though Turnitin didn’t pick up the original piece of work, it picked up the work by JISC RSC London that had copied my work.

That took some explaining to the academic staff in the training session.

So do your students cheat?

So do your students cheat?


They don’t hand in plagiarised work?

How do you know?

Did you know that essays by the bundle are sold on eBay?

Dave Foord (an external educational consultant) has written an interesting blog post on Turnitin which is a piece of software that can be used to detect plagiarised work. He believes that the software also has a value in acting as a deterrent to plagarism.

What are you thoughts?

Internet cheating, harder to catch!

BBC News reports on how students are using new ways to cheat which are more difficult to detect:

Universities warn that students who cheat by commissioning essays from other students are proving harder to catch than other types of plagiarism.

Students are using websites to outsource their essays – inviting other students to put forward their most competitive bids for the work.

What this means is that this work is original and new and can not be easily identified by staff or specialist plagarism software such as Turnitin.

Robert Clarke, a lecturer at Birmingham City University, has identified 4,000 sales on a small number of websites.

Unlike other copied work, he says it is hard for plagiarism software to detect.

“The difficulty is that it is original work – it’s just not the original work of the student handing in the assignment,” says Mr Clarke, principal lecturer in the Department of Computing.

There are no easy solutions to this, though we may need to start re-thinking how we assess students, if traditional models of assessment can be easily circumvented using these auction sites.

“internet plagiarism is a serious problem” says 58% of teachers

According to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, 58% of sixth form teachers believe that “internet plagiarism is a serious problem”.

The BBC reports that:

More than half of teachers believe internet plagiarism is a serious problem among sixth-form students, a teaching union survey suggests.

The 58% of 278 teachers who identified it as a problem said they thought 25% of work returned by pupils included material copied from internet sites.

If as reported by the BBC:

One teacher said a piece of work they saw still contained website adverts.

You have to ask who is at fault here?

Did the learner understand what was required of them?

Did they know they were plagiarising, or did the learner think that it was “okay”?

What internet research skills (if any) had the institution taught the students?

If an institution has a problem with internet plagiarism what policies and tools do they have and use in order to not just detect plagiarism, but also prevent it from happening in the first place.

It’s not as though you can use the excuse I don’t have the time, not when there are such excellent resources such as Intute’s Virtual Training Suite (VTS) available.

People talk of digial natives , but as was borne out in a recent JISC survey, though we may have learners who are digital natives, they may not have the research skills to use the internet effectively to support their learning.

Plagiarism is of course not a new thing, I was told about plagarism when I was at sixth form (and University) and that was a fair few years ago now.

I remember when I was teaching (in the pre-internet days) and a student submitted an assignment which in the main consisted of pages photocopied from a book.

Yes I know you might laugh, but the reality was that the student had no concept of how to research and analyse a topic – they had missed that study skills lesson.

The moral of this whole sorry story of plagarism from the internet, is that use tools such as the VTS to allow learners how to learn to use the internet effectively to support their learning and use tools such as Turnitin to detect plagiarism.

UCAS Form “Cheating”

The BBC are reporting that students are using content “lifted” from the web for their online UCAS forms.

Sixth form students are being warned not to cheat on their university application forms by copying material from the internet.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has written to every UK school saying doing so could affect students’ chances of winning a place.

Ucas is to use plagiarism detection technology to scrutinise the half a million forms seeking entry in 2008.

Maybe it’s time to move away from a written statement on a form for applications.

The web may have made it easier, but when I filled in an UCAS form (some time ago now) I know people who were given extra guidance and help filling it in over and beyond what you would expect and that was never considered “cheating”.

Copying and pasting is cheating, there is no doubt, using the web to help fill in the form is fine, but who tells the sixth former filling in the form what is okay and what isn’t?