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Plagiarism checks

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Monday, 19 Dec 2016, 18:23

I have recently been asked to do some work as a plagiarism consultant for one course.  This involves checking the Turnitin and Copycatch results for the module.

Turnitin compares assignments with published work, websites and blogs etc.  There are quite a few assignments that came up with relatively high scores on the Turnitin site but when I looked at them, this was mainly due to including source texts in an appendix so these are not considered plagiarism.

Copycatch compares assignments with other assignments.  Again, there were some assignments highlighted but the matches were largely due to similar collocations and technical terms.  Of course, those that had source texts in the appendix also matched each other but this could be dismissed as a false positive.

So, my first impression is that the risk of plagiarism is taken seriously but the scale of it is quite small on my course.

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Patrick Andrews


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Increasingly universities are using Turnitin to check on whether assignments are being plagiarised and I was looking at the results for some student work yesterday. 

It struck me that although it is useful, the findings have to be treated with caution.  One student had quite a high score but many of the hits related to her bibliography, which included the standard items.  Another student had 0% matches which seemed to indicate it was not related to any previous academic work so perhaps a very low score is also problematic.  Despite this, I think it does have a useful consciousness raising function for students making them aware of how they use sources.


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