March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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NEWS

Bad news for cheaters

By Rachel Levy
Gazette Staff

The use of Turnitin.com at Brock University is being reviewed by a task force which is also looking at alternative ways to catch students cheating their way through university.

When a student submits an essay, Turnitin.com checks for plagiarism by comparing the paper to others submitted by students on the Internet.

“The site uses [a student’s] essay as a way to make its money, and [the students] may feel they are required to submit their intellectual property to a site that they don’t support,” explained John Lye, chairman of Brock’s Senate,adding students may be insulted by the presumption of plagirism.

Lye said there were some benefits to Turnitin.com, such as the fact the site date-stamps the essays and reduces the risk of plagiarism that arises when a course has more than one section or grader.

“[The Senate committee at Brock will] take a look into the whole area of using this site and develop a policy for the university,” he explained.

“[Western has] been using it for almost three years — we were the first in Canada to adopt it,” said Debra Dawson, director of the Teaching Support Centre at Western.

She noted that an alternative to Turnitin.com, called a “close procedure,” exists; in which every fifth word of an essay is taken out and students have to fill in the words. “[However], Turnitin.com is the best program that exists currently for detecting [Internet] plagiarism,” Dawson said.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Mat Abramsky, a third-year honours business administration student. “I much prefer that the school spend money on [Turnitin.com] to ensure that everyone around me [is] doing what they need to for their degree so that those awarded with it are of the calibre that can maintain it.”

“I think it’s ridiculous. I think that Western should be putting more money into resources on campus rather than using external companies,” said second-year media, information and technoculture student Dave Reiss.

 

 

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