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.
Legitimate educational sites are more popular than cheat sites: One-quarter of all matched material is from legitimate educational web sites, almost double the number that comes from paper mills or cheat sites.
More key findings when you click through. Fun (unsurprising fact): Wikipedia is the most popular site for matched content.
A great article with some great ideas. Here’s an excerpt:
Make Research Assignments about the process rather than the end product.
As teachers, when we assign a research project, we often focus on the end product: the research essay, presentation, etc. However, students (especially young students) do not automatically know how to conduct meaningful research. Our modern students are used to Googling answers. They have grown accustomed to information being readily available. However, as academics, we know that research isn’t a fast process. It’s slow and deliberate. As a teacher, I need to intentionally slow my students down during this exercise. I do this by breaking down a larger project into more manageable chunks and focusing on the process. Here are some techniques that have worked for me:
Give students small practice assignments where they must read, summarize, and properly cite material.
Show students what proper citation should look like. Many rely on resources like EasyBib orBibme to build a bibliography but do not understand what exactly is going into the finished product. Demonstrate to them what should be included in a citation and why. In other words, remove the “but EasyBib said this was right” excuse.
Provide students several examples or case studies of material that they must distinguish as: properly summarized and cited, improperly cited, plagiarized, etc. Allow them to identify and explain the problems.
Over at Poynter, Roy Peter Clark argues that “serious acts of literary theft have been mixed up with trivial ones. Carelessness has been mislabeled as corruption. Clear norms of personal morality and professional ethics have been confused with standards and practices.”
He’s writing, in part, against the backdrop of what Craig Silverman calls journalism’s Summer of Sin, which, in 2012 saw the Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Boston Globe, Fareed Zakaria and Jonah Lehrer among many others getting caught for plagiarizing.
Too scrupulous an ethic on plagiarism will lead, I fear, to witch hunts. Plagiarism — along with its cousin fabrication — should be policed. The punishments for wrongdoers should be harsh. But the word plagiarism should be confined to clear-cut cases of literary and journalistic fraud.
Such a fascinating article. Share this with your colleagues-it’ll start a conversation. Here was one of my favorite parts:
Cheating and defenses of it appear to be rampant, even in the best schools in America. Harvard recently experienced its largest cheating scandal ever; half of the nearly 300 students in an Introduction to Congress class were suspected of cheating on a take-home final last year.
Students justified their collaboration on the exam, saying that any similarities in test responses were because they shared lecture notes and conferred with one another and the teaching assistants.
In this case, it’s the test’s design, rather than the students’ conduct, that we should criticize. In allowing students to consult a wide variety of sources, the Harvard exam was looking to assess something deeper than how well they could memorize and recall facts. Judging from some leaked questions, the test seemed to be designed to measure how students could think about some of the contradictions inherent in American government. (An essay question began, “Do interest groups make Congress more or less representative as an institution?”) But if you want to determine how well students think, why force them to think alone?
Critical Thinking: The best assignments cannot be copied. This might include asking students to develop an argument and defend it individually or having students develop their own math problems or their own processes for solving shared math problems.
Move Toward Mastery: Help students see that the goal is not completion, but mastery. Get rid of averages and zeroes. Students need to understand that cheating prevents teachers from providing necessary intervention and plan for future learning.
Monitor Frequently Engage with Students Often: If a student turns in a plagiarized essay, chances are the teacher wasn’t part of the pre-planning, writing and editing process. Teachers need to monitor students often and provide instant feedback so that incompletion doesn’t snowball into an opportunity to cheat.
Ninja Update: Apparently people don’t read the tags, or the About page. This pulls text from Wikipedia. It’s clearly cheating, and I don’t endorse plagiarism. If you cheat, you don’t just deserve an F. You deserve a special mark that will always appear on your transcript letting people know you cheated.
"Among papers submitted by students in higher education, Wikipedia was by far the most plagiarized individual site, at 10.74 percent. Yahoo Answers was a distant second at 3.9 percent. Slideshare came in a close third at 3.87 percent, Answers.com at 3.57 percent, and Appapers.com at 3.11 percent."
"A student writing an essay for their teacher may be tempted to plagiarize or leave facts unchecked. A new study shows that if you ask that same student to write something that will be posted on Wikipedia, he or she suddenly becomes determined to make the work as accurate as possible, and may actually do better research."
Probably more basic logic and psychology than technology influence here, but interesting nonetheless.
"Cheating is especially easy to justify when you frame situations to cast yourself as a victim of some kind of unfairness,” said Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the use of prescription drugs to improve intellectual performance. “Then it becomes a matter of evening the score; you’re not cheating, you’re restoring fairness."