Student Plagiarism Checker Banned At University

from the didn't-expect-that dept

Over the past few years, almost every teacher or professor I've spoken to has talked about how wonderful the service Turnitin.com is in catching student plagiarism. However, it's causing some concern apparently. Even a few years ago, just as it was becoming popular, we wondered about the legal issues of Turnitin storing every uploaded document. It seems that one university is worried about that, as well as the privacy implications of the service and the "guilty until proven innocent" situation it can lead to. Halifax University has now banned the use of Turnitin by professors, citing both privacy and legal reasons, while noting they don't think it's right to be uploading all these papers to the database of a for-profit company. It's a bit surprising, given just how much some professors have come to rely on the program, and how little concern most people have expressed concerning the students.


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  1.  
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    Gary, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 5:10pm

    No Subject Given

    Couldn't the school just make it a policy that says that students must agree to letting the school use their papers with Turnitin?

     

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    drinkmorejava, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 5:35pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well yeah, but then that would be like forced relinquishment of the copyright of your paper-- which they could so be raped for in court. And no, the school saying “well you don’t have to come to our school” wouldn’t work as a defense.

     

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  3.  
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    ZOMG CENSORED, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 5:49pm

    Looks Like I'm Moving

    Doctorate here I come... Now, just to find some thesis that I can plagarize. I think that the lack of this tool will only lead to a growth of plagarism, especially since students now know that the school (publically) banned it.

     

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  4.  
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    Tyshaun, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 5:52pm

    so...

    Would they have a problem if it was a non-profit company? I dunno, I like the concept. I don't buy the guilty until proven innocent crap because there's no actions taken against a student unless their paper has a hit against it. The bottom line is this, we show in so many other ways that we inherently don't trust students. I remember taking the SAT years ago. There were 2 "proctors" in the room at all times and all the students taking the exam had to be spaced so that we couldn't see each others papers. In the age of increased access to documents on the internet, I don't see why universities aren't clamoring to find a legal way to use this or similar service. I'm not a lawyer but it seems to me that a non-disclosure statement from turnitin along with a notification of the use of service should be enough.

     

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  5.  
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    jmyyz, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 6:34pm

    Halifax U

    PS the university is Mount Saint Vincent University

     

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  6.  
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    Professor HighBrow, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 7:08pm

    Re: so...

    Would they have a problem if it was a non-profit company?
    I don't buy the "innocent until proven guilty" defense either; the best solution would be to only test papers that appear suspicious.
    However, this is all for educational purposes, is it not? Then how can we justify using tuition funds to allow a company to make money anaylizing papers?

    Depending on the complexity required in the writing of the paper (Is it something that requires specific knowledge of the subject?) should be a determining factor as to whether or not a paper be anaylized electronically.

    How about an Open Source project that does this? This would be an excellent project for graduate students... because I don't believe that funds should be diverted to a for-profit company.

    Besides that, there is a fine line between outright plagarism and information gathering from various sources.

    In any science based course it is easy to tell what has been "copied" or what has not, and in any liberal arts class a teacher can just require editorial content on the paper, so that it can be questioned later; e.g. "Why do you feel that Napoleon's aggressiveness was influenced by his Syphillis?"
    Can't answer the question? Well then the paper was probably not yours.
    Besides, Cliff Notes have been around forever for those too lazy to read the book.

     

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  7.  
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    Andrew Strasser, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 7:49pm

    Re: so...

    on that note is it possible for Google to acquire their database... Seems like on-line library basically already built....

     

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  8.  
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    TMS, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 10:17pm

    Re: so...The "Real" answer.

    Perhaps the "professors" would be forced to utilize their talents and educational background in reviewing important works themselves rather than depending on some "outsourcing" of what is very much a part of their professional job description. What do the college teachers do before the advent of these "click and grade" methods of checking work.

    Further, what certification have been made by this "company" with regards to the accuracy of it's technology, or from where does it derive it's data sources?

    There is no doubt that were this ever to be challenged on legal grounds, either on privacy, or copyright issues (and several other areas as well), justification of this technology would be very difficult. While on the other side the arguments against it can be made powerfully and from multiple currently precedented cases.

    The cat is out of the "proverbial bag", the professors are about to start have to work again, well, at least all of you slaving undergrads working for many of these over compensated and underworked "tenured" indivduals.

    Truth is Power, it does not need the internets help.

    TMS

     

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  9.  
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    TMS, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 10:24pm

    Re: so...The

    Perhaps the "professors" would be forced to utilize their talents and educational background in reviewing important works themselves rather than depending on some "outsourcing" of what is very much a part of their professional job description. What did these college professors do before the advent of these "click and grade" methods of checking work.
    Further, what certifications have been made by this "company" with regards to the accuracy of it's technology, or from where does it derive it's data sources?
    There is no doubt that were this ever to be challenged on legal grounds, either on privacy, or copyright issues (and several other areas as well), justification of this technology would be very difficult. While on the other side the arguments against it can be made powerfully and from multiple currently precedent cases of law.
    The cat is out of the "proverbial bag", the professors are about to start have to work again, well, at least all of you slaving undergrads working for many of these over compensated and under worked "tenured" individuals.
    Truth is Power, it does not need the Internets help.
    TMS

     

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  10.  
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    Aj, Mar 8th, 2006 @ 10:47pm

    turnitoff


    I have beaten the turnitin.com program.
    U see it has run on some sort of algorithm where it looks for say 3 sequential words against soem db.
    well be lazy but make sure you paraphrase and replace key words with synonyms (use MS word)
    hahahahahahahahah

     

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  11.  
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    Scott, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    Re: so...The

    Actually what they did is let a whole log of plagiarizing. Many cases were brought out after servers like this came out.

    There is no possible way for people to be able to retain the amount of information you are talking about. Even in a public High School, it is not possible, 35 students per teacher x 9 classes per day. That mean 405 student works to scan if they all have papers due in the same week. So roughly 81 papers per each day in a 5 day week, 1 hour per paper is 81 per 5 day week, plus teaching on top of it.

    This is nothing more than todays kids/parents whining that they can get caught cheating plain and simple. It is also a numbers game for the university, you remove ways to determine cheating, your enrollment ends up increasing.

    Plenty of schools "own" the ideas their students come up with for classwork/projects. It is a fact of the system, and has been for quite some time.

     

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  12.  
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    Andrew Strasser, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 7:36am

    Re: so...

    We're also missing the point as well like mentioned above. Once 13 things are changed it is no longer that same work. Also many researchers say the same things in their papers. you don't do studies on things usually and everyone comes up with a different answer. It's all inn how you word it. So no you didn't beat it, the teacher got the desired effect.

    You go out you look for stuff and then write a paper on it. They expect from you to put that in your own words yes. Many of us know though from countless networking programs we've been through that explain to us that "We only know what the people in our network know." In today's society you can form a vast network of individuals from around the world in a series of just a few years.

     

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  13.  
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    imfbsbn, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 7:52am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well yeah, but then that would be like forced relinquishment of the copyright of your paper-- which they could so be raped for in court. And no, the school saying “well you don’t have to come to our school” wouldn’t work as a defense.
    What are you insane? Of course it is a defense, and a valid one at that. Let's see, the college pays for the library, the internet access, the computers, the labs, the professors, the buildings, etc. Anything you "create" while there belongs to them. Phd students do not "own" their papers... the school does. MIT makes millions on patented inventions of... students.

     

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  14.  
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    Tyshaun, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 8:15am

    Re: so...The

    Perhaps the "professors" would be forced to utilize their talents and educational background in reviewing important works themselves rather than depending on some "outsourcing" of what is very much a part of their professional job description. What do the college teachers do before the advent of these "click and grade" methods of checking work.

    Your view is a little narrow minded on this, and obviously you have some sort of slant against professors. However, I would say that I think the biggest justification for a tool like this is the internet itself. On the internet there are sites where students can go an download entire term papers for a fee. This didn't exist in the "old days" and plagarism was almost exclusively limited to robbing from other published writers works, of which most of the professors could probably spot. Now a student from University A can go to a website and get a term paper from a student at University B, and there's no reason to believe the professor at University A would have ever seen the paper in question, to recognize it as a plagarized piece.

    There is no doubt that were this ever to be challenged on legal grounds, either on privacy, or copyright issues (and several other areas as well), justification of this technology would be very difficult.

    If the University had students sign a disclosure form stating they know that they're papers may be entered into an anti-plagarism database, what would be the problem. I've never used the site, but I'm sure turnitin has a mechanism to save the identities of the person entering the information into the database, and if called upon in court could produce that information. Remember, we are dealing with student term papers which are not copyrighted materials, and there are several precedents that say that work produced as part of a class assignment are not afforded the same legal rights of privacy protection.

    Again, the tool in question doesn't breed laziness in professors, it's an adequate response to the fact that a student who wants to cheat has access to volumes of data that were previously never available to a student, and their's no way a single professor can expect to be familiar enough with all of it recognize a plagarist. My only change from my original statement, based on comments above, is that I would turn it into a non-profit service paid for by all the perticipating educational institutions.

     

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  15.  
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    Proud to be MSVU, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Re: so...The

    yes, students can steal a paper from the internet, but professors can also type suspicious sentences of a paper into google and find the said paper. How much time and effort does that take from a professor, who is being paid by our money?! They need to start doing their job, not letting some american website do it for them!

     

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  16.  
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    Turnitin is OUT, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 10:21am

    Re: so...The

    Plagiarism detection software, such as Turnitin.com com, raises an array of issues and I am thrilled that the Senate of Mount Saint Vincent University recognizes these issues and is willing to guard their students against them.

     

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  17.  
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    TMS, Mar 9th, 2006 @ 4:01pm

    Re: so...The

    My reply sir,
    ------------
    You say:
    ----Your view is a little narrow minded on this, and obviously you have some sort of slant against professors. However, I would say that I think the biggest justification for a tool like this is the internet itself----
    --------------------------------------------------
    Reply:
    On the contrary, my view is in many cases a point of fact, and only someone not in this system would not acknowledge this is a fact based statement, although broadly applied, any intelligent person knows this would not apply in a "blanket fashion". The simple fact is that technology has come to a point to where it is invading the privacy and even the way a student must think in terms of their work.
    Pure creativity is bound to be pushed back to some degree for fear that someone else may have used a phase or two in the same fashion as in something written five or even many more, years ago.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You say:
    ----Remember, we are dealing with student term papers which are not copyrighted materials, and there are several precedents that say that work produced as part of a class assignment are not afforded the same legal rights of privacy protection------
    --------------------------------------------------
    Reply:
    This is a very weak defense and your definition of a "term paper" is far to vague to make a realistic determination. In many cases we are not in fact talking about simply term papers or "high school" type reports. We are quite talking about a complex thesis, therefore original (unless one assumes guilt) work, which then brings it directly under intellectual property from the moment it was created. It would therefore be afforded the same rights as any other copyrighted work or "intellectual property".
    I will assume that you are aware in the current atmosphere of the courts which party is in fact prevailing at a previously un-dreamed of rate, and a lot of attorneys are making a lot of money. How, why with databases of information of course- Lexus Nexus - for instance, this is a like type of program in some ways used by attorneys to mine all types of available databases, and yes it is a private and profitable enterprise. Therefore, I beg to differ.
    Additionally, it is certainly also a consideration for some, that their ideas and/or work will be taken down and copyrighted in some form, (this has actually happened to me). Someone also mentioned that the university "owns" whatever work you do. This is not true, from a legal standpoint (copyrights) this would mean that the students were all creating a "work for hire", this is how one "owns" anther's work. However, as students, they are paying the college, which in turn pays it’s teachers and expenses, including the use of this tool which if I understand correctly is not "gratis" from this kind companies heart.
    The issues of the security of all of this information being compiled and data mined 24 hour a day and on a global basis, and someone says they are certain that there are adequate security measures? Wake up, listen to the news, the databases, of banks, credit card companies, medical databanks are being compromised at an ever increasing rate. There are professional who dedicate themselves full time to this lucrative form of criminal activity which is rarely prosecuted, because the criminals are rarely caught. So your work is safe? Hardly.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You say:
    If the University had students sign a disclosure form stating they know that they're papers may be entered into an anti-plagarism database, what would be the problem.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Reply:
    Were a violation to occur as has been suggested in this thread, it would be very unlikely that the college would be held to "no harm". This is in part due to the fact that much case law exist which would be on point in this case. For instance it is a very shaky proposition to believe that a student or anyone can be coerced into signing away what is in effect their right to legal redress for harm caused. While this doctrine of law varies somewhat from state to state, I am certain the school would be held accountable for it's part of the "harm" on an appellate level even if the local circuit court lacked this "awareness". Another consideration is that in all likelihood this would be a case brought in federal court, where the school would have much less of a chance of prevailing. The standard would likely be that the school would have to show by the preponderance of evidence that their policy of using this technology, and the "good" that results, does in fact outweigh the right of the individual to a reasonable expectation of privacy, and this would also go to security as this "database" company would no doubt be the "Co-defendant"-
    Frankly, I hope this happens as it will end the debate and students can proceed in the atmosphere of trust and creativity of which goes to the very core of a university's supposed "philosophy".
    --------------------------------------------------
    You say:
    Again, the tool in question doesn't breed laziness in professors, it's an adequate response to the fact that a student who wants to cheat has access to volumes of data that were previously never available to a student, and their's no way a single professor can expect to be familiar enough with all of it recognize a plagarist.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Reply:
    Your statement here is simply one of avoidance of the central issues of this thread. You paint a picture of a poor old lone professor up late at night grading papers, if you believe this (albeit an exaggerated image) then you are misinformed or part of the system and status quo. Further, you would have to simply be naive to think that the use of tools such as this has "increased" the amount of "personal" attention that a student or groups of students receive, give it whatever label you will but this does not change any reality such as the one regarding the use and possible misuse of this technology. One more thing you might consider, it is not the students using this technology.
    It makes you wonder, "what if" we took all of the professors and PhD’s, currently teaching in any capacity, and ran all of their submitted works with which they used in part to obtain their lofty credentials and ran that through this service. Do you think that there would be complete exoneration? We will never know this because these people would never allow such scrutiny, after all, their in the clear now.
    While it is no doubt true that some people will cheat and slip through the cracks, does anyone believe that this represents the majority of our young people? How is it anymore "narrow minded" to bring up a topic related to the professors role in the system and question that, than it is to consider the preceding question? Simple, it isn’t.
    People, that is some small part of the total population, will always lie, cheat, and all other manner of unacceptable societal behavior.
    However, it cannot and should not be the policy in our educational system to do "potential" harm to the many, to possibly catch the few. This is not the message we want our young people to walk away from the halls of upper education thinking as it is in fact they who are the future, and it is we, who are creating the environment and culture that feeds that coming generation.
    Note:
    I would like to state that the above and any other of my contributions to this thread are solely my own opinions and observations of which I am sharing in the spirit of productive debate of the issues at hand. It is not and will not ever be my intention to insult or inflame anyone’s sensitivities. If this has been the case with some my apologies. However, the very nature of “debate” defines that the issues be as multifaceted and diverse as possible, in this way we can hopefully all derive further positive insight into the issue, whatever that may be.
    Thank you.
    TMS

     

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  18.  
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    Joseph Steckney, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 2:45pm

    Re: so...The

    It's sad to see an academic institution bow to the pressure of students like that. Those students are not being prepared for the real world outside of the classroom. In the real world, people check your work. People have managers looking over their work. It's called accountability.

    The school has no back-bone. They just let the students run roughshod right over them.

    Shame on You! You let your teachers down. You let your students down.

     

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  19.  
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    james, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 4:41pm

    Forced relinquishment of Copyright

    Turnitin does not assert, nor has it ever, that it has the Copyright to papers submitted. The rights are always fully retained by the original author.

    The original author may still do whatever they choose with their paper once it has been submitted to Turnitin. The ascertain that Turnitin takes the copyright (or that the student must unwillingly relinquish it) is wholly unfounded.

    Were Turnitin to granted the copyright for submitted materials, then a student would not be able to legally publish the paper once submitted. This is most obviously not the case. Once the paper has been vetted through the system, the student may do whatever they choose with it, irregardless of the outcome.

    Think it this way. Newspapers are copyrighted material. If someone takes a copy of a Newspaper and places it in their private archive, does the publisher of the paper lose their copyright? Hardly.

    Could the individual who maintains the archive legally make a profit say, by providing an analysis of that archive? Yes they could.

    Would their analysis of the copyrighted work somehow transfer the copyright of the material reviewed to the individual doing the analysis? Hardly...

    After thousands have been nabbed for plagiarism after it was rooted out by Turnitin, do you not think that at least one of those student caught would be vexed enough to file a lawsuit if such were really an option? None has ever been filed.

    Moral to the story: Read up on copyright law before pretending you know something about it.

     

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  20.  
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    james, Mar 10th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    Re: so...The

    Google is also a for-profit service. If entering student work into Google is ok (Google is allowed to save any of your querys indefinitely) how it any different than Turnitin?

    You are advocating ditching use of one for-profit American company for use of another ... for-profit American company.

    Do you have any solutions that do not involve for profit enterprize or Americans?

     

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  21.  
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    TMS, Mar 11th, 2006 @ 12:26am

    Forced relinquishment of Copyright-And othe Odditi

    You Say:
    Could the individual who maintains the archive legally make a profit say, by providing an analysis of that archive? Yes they could.
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Reply:
    I can provide a few links to copyright law if you like, but rather than take your post and point out the errors.

    Let's just take this one thing, the person or company in the above cited example you use would not only be in violation of the copyrighted (officially or not, there’s little distinction with intellectual property) they would be so to such a degree as to make multiple types of damage awards only a matter of time, money and attorney's.

    One of the most basic tenets of copyright law (which is incredibly complicated in itself) is that you cannot profit, in any way from another persons intellectual property, weather you do so knowingly or not, the liability is the same. So as you rightly point out, there are numerous ways profits could be made and in fact are made by this company and others like it, such as Lexus-Nexus (which is their newest partner I just learned) which is another huge "for hire" database.

    I personally think that the next five to ten years will see much more strict controls brought voter how these and many other companies like them, including Google, cam legally use the information they collect.

    No you say, well take a look at the case with medical databases, a few years back people gave it very little thought as they filled out all that paperwork at the doctors office or hospital. Then one day someone broke into one of these databases and stole information, next they decided to make a certain select group of the populations names public knowledge (which they accomplished through a variety of means) specifically this "group" happened to be all of the people in that database who had been confirmed to have HIV (Aids)-

    Wow, did the government move in on that fast in less than one year an entire group of laws passed which required all medical databanks that stored any type of personal or medical data now must meet standards of security and be able to assure a reasonable degree of privacy to all patients. Did this have other more far reaching results, yes? Were they all positive, in my opinion no?

    However, this is what happens if you push technology to the point to where the government feels (rightly or wrongly) that it must step in to protect the rights of the people. Further, along that line, by a huge majority the people who vote in this country expect to be afforded this protection. They only notice they do not have it when "something" happens that awakens the sleeping giant, "Uncle Sammy".

    The same thing will soon happen albeit in a different area than my example (of reality, not a possibility). However, with the advent of the digital age already many new laws have been passed to protect works of others from being feasted upon by capitalistic cannibals.

    Think of the big companies who have paid out millions, hundreds of millions, for just this type of abuse. This list includes such notables as Microsoft, and Google, for patent infringement cases and others. The only reason they got away with it for years is the digital tool belt was very one sided in America and the world. Now any three hundred dollar computer will get you all the information you desire with direct links to the copyright office and patent office files and databanks.

    The good old days of the big guys robbing the little guys are coming to a close; the big guys now run their businesses in a "defensive" posture.

    With just this tiny bit of information it should be clear that giant databases are not going to be allowed to sell their wares (my information, yours, your friends, children...) without having to be accountable. When this accountability comes into play these business models will be forced to adapt or die out.

    To the heart of the matter, the students and this program used to check there work, instead of utilizing actual humans (how did they get by before this). It is quite simply, a major invasion of the students thinking process and creativity; it was certainly not something that was forced upon the very professor/mentors who now delight in using this tool against their students. Make no mistake about it, go over to their website at: Turnitin.com and see how they market themselves. They claim on there web site that it is a supposedly validated (by survey I think) that some 70% of college students cheat. Firstly, this is a ridiculous number and an exaggeration of astronomical proportions.

    Anyone who thinks that 70% of our youths studying today in all of our hallowed halls of higher learning are busy cheating and trying to cheat the system, is too paranoid to be out without a leash.

    Further, if it were true then this country the USA and its way of life are doomed. You must also consider that if 70% of today’s youths are cheating (they supposedly admitted this for the purposes of this survey), then they sure as hell are not many qualified professors out there teaching since they had to be cheating at least as much if not more, it was much easier to get away with. They (the teachers/professors) submitted themselves to their peers for review, not a database.

    Today's students even have to pay to be treated as if they come to school with a tool belt of cheating tools all ready to go, and what's more is they have to pay the tab for using this service against themselves.

    I end this once more with a simple question, if we ask every teaching tenured college professor today to submit their papers (thesis, etc) for review in this same system, how many would step up to the plate without reservation? 30% you think. I do not think so, after all they already got over.

    In five years, this tool will no longer be used. However, just so I am clear, I do not mean to say that no system of checks and balance should be in place, there always have been. I simply do not think that technology should be used indiscriminately with the human element taking a distant backseat.

    TMS

     

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  22.  
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    Professor HighBrow, Mar 12th, 2006 @ 1:33am

    TMS is Correct

    I ran TMS's very intelligent responses through a special mechanism, called "my Brain," and decided that his writings were original.

    Therefore, if he were a student, I would not run HIS WRITING through a database of plaigerised documents at HIS EXPENSE.

    Unethical behavior is to be expected in education, regardless of whether or not the person is a student or a teacher. I've had professors that basically forced their TA's to teach their course for them, and about the same percenage of students that will subvert testing (putting info into calculators, etc.)

    Overall, the responsibility lies in the hands of the teacher to be informed enough on what they themselves are teaching -- that they can detect these things.

    Well done TMS, the Prof says A+.

     

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  23.  
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    Professor HighBrow, Mar 12th, 2006 @ 1:41am

    Re: TMS is correct, Ladies



    Note:
    Professor HighBrow is not a real professor; do not try this at home. Uninformed decisions may result in personal injury and/or Accidental death or Dismemberment. No Students were harmed in the production of this paragraph.

     

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  24.  
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    Bobby Sizzle, Mar 14th, 2006 @ 4:29pm

    Google Searches

    Surveys have shown that secondary teachers can spend up to 20 percent of their time checking papers for plagiarism. This is in part because they must rely on an inefficient means to do so - ie using a general search engine. I can only imagine that college professors spend a greater deal of time (or none at all). In either case, there is a detriment to students. Your professors time is consumed if he chooses to use inefficient methods to search papers, in which case funds spent on educating you for the future are wasted on frivolity. If he/she chooses not to search papers, a blind eye is turned to potential cases of plagiarism, which ultimately devalues the efforts of those students who submitted work that adhered to standards of academic integrity.

     

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  25.  
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    james, Mar 16th, 2006 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Forced relinquishment of Copyright-And othe Od

    I would be interrested to see your copyright law links... Primarily because it is my understanding that the laws do not prevent one from profetting off copyrighted work, but instead prevent someone from preventing the owner of the copyright from profetting off their work.

    Consider:

    Is it legal to sell a used book? This is profetting off another's copyright.

    Is it legal for libraries to charge fines for overdue books if those books are still under an active copyright?

    Could an artist take a stack of the New York Time, make it into papermache and sell the artwork, or would they have to find paper that did not originally contain copyrighted material.

    How about book critics, are they not profetting off another's copyrighted work?

    How about renting movies, which DEFINITLY involves third-parties profetting off another copyrighted work.

    And then there are of course Doctors who read copyrighted material in the process of getting their degree. Can they only charge for the medical pratices they perform if they learned those practices through readings of non-copyrighted sources?

    If you take growing tips from a copyrighted gardening magazine, is it illegal for you to sell your produce?

    Can you sell cookies if you took the recipee from a copyrighted cookbook?

    Ok, I think this horse is dead, so I'll stop beating it.

    Cheers

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    TMS, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 2:38am

    Re: Re: Forced relinquishment of Copyright-And oth

    You say:
    Primarily because it is my understanding that the laws do not prevent one from profetting off copyrighted work, but instead prevent someone from preventing the owner of the copyright from profetting off their work.
    -------------------------------------------------
    My Reply:
    James, I am not going to flame you here, but I would not be surprised if someone did. I get the sense that the opinions you posted are sincere. They do seem to be the result if an entirely misunderstood idea of what copyright law is. Therefore I will save you a little effort (actually a good bit of it) at going over the complexity's of "copyright" and all of the complications that this seemingly simple term carries with it. (also an "over used" term from which I think much of the public confusion arises from.)
    Okay, try this one on for size:(I have inserted small lines in some key point areas)
    ------------------------------------------>>>
    WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?
    Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,� including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. ---This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the-- owner --of copyright the ---exclusive right ---to do and to authorize others to do the following:

    To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;

    To prepare derivative works based upon the work;

    To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

    To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

    To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

    In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

    ------------------What is the key line from the above from which we can all understand what the basic tenant of copyright protection is?------

    ANSWER:----->

    Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the-- owner --of copyright the ---exclusive right ---to do and to authorize

    ----------Yes, what a class, everyone passes--->>>

    Oh, I see there is a question it the back there (there is one in every class). Yes, yes, okay, here is your answer:
    ------------------------------>>>>

    -----It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. ----

    When is something copyrighted you ask? Good question,
    Answer:>>>>>

    ---Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.------
    ----------------------------------------------------WOW!>>>

    Okay James, these are the most basic ideas. However, I think they are plenty enough to answer you query above, but look it up, the US Copyright offices serves up this stuff by the truckloads. Is it really so clear cut and easy as that? No, of course it isn't, instead as I have said before it is an extremely complicated set of rules and laws all of which have mountains of more rules and laws laid upon them constantly, even as the technology to create copyrighted works increases faster than the laws and rules can can change.

    Lastly, this horse is not dead, and you certainly have not even got it (the metaphorical "horse") to break a sweat.

    So feel free to unleash some more ideas, it's all good for the mind.

    Jeesh, the next thing you know someone is going to say "but what about "fair use"? Well the truth is that this is not exactly a "law" as much as it is what these "legal eagle" types like to call a "doctrine of law" in this case the "Doctrine of law which relates to the "fair use" clause in the morass of copyright procedures. Many people think that this means: Hey if I need to use it, that's fair isn't it? No it is not.

    Cool Running to all..........
    TMS

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Michelle, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 7:41am

    Re: Forced relinquishment of Copyright-And othe Od

    Further, if it were true then this country the USA and its way of life are doomed. You must also consider that if 70% of today�s youths are cheating (they supposedly admitted this for the purposes of this survey), then they sure as hell are not many qualified professors out there teaching since they had to be cheating at least as much if not more, it was much easier to get away with. They (the teachers/professors) submitted themselves to their peers for review, not a database.


    That's the most profound argument I've read on this entire board. Well done!

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Michelle, Mar 17th, 2006 @ 8:24am

    IP Law... yeah, right. I've heard this tune befor

    And further, to the myriad of arguments posted here that turnitin.com is fully allowable within their "interpretation" of IP law, even they have to admit that it is on shaky ground. Just because an issue hasn't been effectively put to the test by any court in an influential case does not mean that it has been determined to be legal. Maybe they should read up on "case law" period, before handing out arrogant suggestions to others to do the same...

    Someone here should remember the disgust and outrage that the National Library of Canada invoked after getting an under-the-table payout from American company contentville.com for the receipt of Canadian graduate students' theses - which they then sold on the internet. I know a number of people who got burned by that affair when they found their hard work pilfered on the web, after they themselves assured me that signing mandatory licensing agreements for their own work to the NLC as a requirement for graduation was perfectly harmless, as it was of no financial benefit to the library itself. Maybe if they had more individuals questioning that process at the time, as individuals are doing so now with turnitin.com, the scrutiny would have prompted the NLC to think longer and harder before they tried to secretly rip-off those students.

    Bottom line is that despite anyone's assertions on this board or anywhere else that turnitin.com is legal or ethical, it has not been determined to either - whatever their "privacy policy" states on their website. Legally it is still unchallenged, and if the complex ethical debate had been in found in its favour there would be no entries on this message board.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    TMS, Mar 18th, 2006 @ 8:00am

    Re: IP Law... yeah, right. I've heard this tune b

    A very clear statement of clear logical fact, not to mention as you said so well this entire other area which has not really been pin-pointed as well as you in your post.

    To think anyone in today's world of technology being paid to mine and disseminate information is beyond reproach, whatever the circumstances, borders on the ridiculous.

    As I have previously predicted there will be a lawsuit, possible even class action against these companies within the window of the next five years.

    With the entire "privacy" issue today being what it is, I do not see how they could survive the publicity, not to mention colleges who may be forced to compensate some parties as well. This first school ban was the first, I do not think it will be the last.

    Cool Running to all
    TMS

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Teacher, Mar 18th, 2006 @ 7:55pm

    Alternative

    There's always PlagiarismChecker.com... banning that one would be equivalent to banning teachers from using Google.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    TMS, Mar 18th, 2006 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Alternative - Wrong

    Reply:
    The mere fact that it is "free", I assume is what you think bears out your comparison of the site link you provide to Google as (as opposed to Turnitin.com.) However, the validity of this assumption does not bear out on several fronts. One is that "Google" has no special abilities specifically written to do what the site you link above does and two would be the following disclaimer at the bottom of their front page:
    _________________
    Site:
    This site is in no way endorsed by Google, Inc. or Yahoo!
    Google is a trademark of Google, Inc. Yahoo!™ is a trademark of Yahoo! Inc.
    Do not make automated search queries using this site. You will be permanently blocked if this happens.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Observation:
    However, there is certainly a keen interest in the material on this "site" being copyright protected as is evidenced below.
    ---------------------------------------
    Site:
    The material on this Web site is Copyright ©2005-2006 by Darren Hom. All Rights Reserved.
    -------------------

    TMS

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Mount Student, Apr 7th, 2006 @ 6:16pm

    Set the Record Straight

    Firstly, I am amazed at the comments of many of the people here considering 90% of the people posting comments have no clue about the university. It wasn't until someone posted the name of the school that any of you knew about it anyhow.

    Also, Turnitin was not banned by the student union, but by the senate, which is made up primarily of faculty, in fact, there are only three students sitting on the senate. Turnitin was banned for many reasons, and while you may not believe presumption of guilt is a sufficient reason, the fact that turnitin is profiting off of student work is a violation of student rights. Additionally, turnitin is subject to the patriot act, and as a Canadian, it worries me that Bush and his retarded trigger happy GOP would have access to the intellectual property of students, despite the fact he could learn quite a bit by reading something, but I suppose he'd have to remove his head from Cheney's ass for that.

    Turnitin hasn't been around forever. Previous to its existence, teachers checked for plagerism. Thank god teachers at this school are volunteering to do the job they're paid for, unlike most schools. The teachers at this school displayed trust in their students and dedication to their jobs by supporting the ban of turnitin.

    Finally, MSVU is a small university, with average class sizes hovering around 20 students. As such, teachers and students are generally on a first name basis. This alone makes turnitin wrong for our school because it takes away from the relationship between student and teacher.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    SLC, May 6th, 2006 @ 2:47am

    Re: Re: No Subject Given

    Actually after reading all the posts I think what you are claiming is insane. I am a full time online college student. I work hard to write my papers and I know my teachers use some plagiarism checkers. The main one is in the school library. The students get to use it too. Yes, the college pays for the library and many other supplies. However, I pay to go to the school. I don't only pay by financial means to go to school but I also pay by working hard. I should be entitled to some rights also. When I write a paper, that paper belongs to me. It does not belong to the school and I should have the right to choose wheher it gets permanately stored somewhere. Writers get their articles and books published all the time and I am pretty sure that the work is still their own. They have to be asked before it is used for anything. I don't mind my school checking my work. I trust my teachers and faculty and I have nothing to hide. However, if my work is expected to be original, then that is the way it should remain. My "original" should remain mine!

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    John, May 12th, 2006 @ 9:32am

    cheating

    With the advent of the Internet, and the free papers that students regularly download, I welcome tools like TurnItIn that quickly identify plagiarism.

    Like the Internet itself, used a tool so students can be lazy and cheat, TurnItIn is merely a tool to combat it.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Roger Pratt, May 18th, 2006 @ 5:46pm

    Let it rot!

    If profs are so divorced from knowing their students that they can't tell original work from copy-paste, then the system of "education" is already rotten. In which case, let it rot! A pox on both your houses, on the profs and on the sheep-students who pay a fortune to be processed. ("Pox" -- that's plagarism for you. Stuff-it-in.com)

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Dana, May 18th, 2006 @ 6:14pm

    Would professors submit their own work?

    I cannot say for certain whether all thr professors at my university would submit their own work for scrutiny by TurnItIn but I can say that I for certain would submit it to a similar system. (Why merely similar, you ask? well, I appreciate the point made by Mount Student, that TurnItIn is subject to the patriot act). I agree with Mount Student, that use of a system like this in a small-class environment is probably inappropraite; then a teacher has the time to use google and other sources to do their searching.

    I do not agree with TMS' interpretation of copyright law. The example cited was "if a person has an archive of copyrighted works, and they analyse those works in some way, is their analysis an infringement of copyright?". No, it isn't. They have used a number of sources to create a work that is THEIR OWN intellectual property -- the analysis of the materials is THEIR OWN sweat, blood and tears.

    I am a student, and I am a teacher in a computer science department a long way from the United States. We do not use TurnItIn or any similar system; however, there have been times when I have marked essays where the work has clearly been plagiarised (a student's written English going from appalling to professional in the space of a paragraph break, for example) and had my hands tied because using all the search engine power in the world I could not find where the student had gotten the material from. As a student who did all my own undergraduate work, and who continues to do my own research, I want to catch these people. Them getting a degree by plagiarism devalues the degree that I and many others worked so hard for.

    Is TurnItIn the right approach? Perhaps not. Can professors reasonably be expected to catch cheats without some electronic assistance? Not when it is a requirement of the university that evidence of the original be provided. Is it ethically okay to store student work in a secure, not for profit server to ensure the quality of the degree that honest students get? Absolutely.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Robert Geerling, May 19th, 2006 @ 5:53am

    Re: Looks Like I'm Moving

    Dear ZOMG CENSORED,

    Apart from your comments on which I will not comment, I was taken by your use of the (your)
    words 'plagarize' and 'publically'.

    In order to deserve credibility you might do well to
    either go back to school to learn good English, or
    take the easy way out and use your spell-checker.

    Sincerely,

    Robert Geerling.

    PS
    I learnt English the hard way as a Dutch immigrant
    into Australia and having to do an 'English Expression'
    course alongside my 'Accounting' Course and cannot abide with people bastardising their own language.
    Take a page from my book?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Demexii, May 25th, 2006 @ 4:44pm

    My own thoughts...

    Is it legal for libraries to charge fines for overdue books if those books are still under an active copyright?

    Yes, but that isn't the same thing. It would be like me going to the library and taking out a book, photocopying the book, and then having people come in with their books, photocopying them, and using those photocopies to make a profit comparing the two. In America, at least, an act like that would be sued within minutes.

    The difference is that the libraries only have one object, the book. It was paid for and only one person is using it at a time. Turnitin copies the paper to their computer and use it even when the original is gone.

    and had my hands tied because using all the search engine power in the world I could not find where the student had gotten the material from.

    Most likely Turnitin would not catch it as well. It compares information on the internet (using identical spiders to google most likely) and other students' papers. If it was in a book or a friend who didn't use Turnitin you would still be screwed.

    As well, I have seen it mess up many times. It picked up things that were original and miss things that were unoriginal. I had a whole paragraph stolen from wikipedia but it said it was only 60% unoriginal to some school in some odd place. Most likely the kid got it and changed it slightly and put it up without getting caught. Then when I did it I hit him instead of wiki. If I changed the article as well I would have even a lower rating. How does that help the instructor? He still has no way of knowing if it was a false hit or not. And he can't legally read the offending paper without permission and why would that other person ever give permission to send out his paper when he knows he got it from wiki as well? So unless it is obvious you are pretty much going through it blindly anyway.

    I just find the entire thing greatly flawed. Disregarding the fact that there are ways to full the scan, even when it is working correctly it is flawed. Don't let instructors used such flawed software that gives a feeling of security when it is not so.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    RDJ, May 26th, 2006 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Forced relinquishment of Copyright-And

    TMS,

    You had me at hello, which is until you committed the very thing you so obstinately tried to defend here. I must ask and ponder the ramifications you may now endure for plagiarizing another’s work to substantiate your opinions.

    TMS if you had used anyone of the programs out there you may find that your answers represent a higher than 80% return on the possibility that you are not the originator.

    I am not here, in your words, flame anyone but again question why you have not correctly cited the source for your comments.

    Concerned Student/Teacher/Facilitator/Parent

    RDJ

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Michelle, Jun 6th, 2006 @ 12:29am

    I am in college and I don't have a problem with teachers using the site, but only if the students have access to it also. I have asked teachers for a username and password so I can check my paper and see how well or bad I rewrite sources information, but I have yet had a teacher give me any way to check my own paper before I turn it in. I think schools should give access to the students also.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Sirena, Jul 9th, 2006 @ 4:36pm

    Re: turnitoff

    ok, so I've been accused of plagiarism and I think the reason that it came up to begin with is that the teacher did not know how turnitin.com works! It seems that he was not even familiar with my paper and had not checked out the text in question before accusing me. The cutoff line is 22% I guess ...and I was at 24% - mainly becuase I started off my paper with a direct passage from a website (italicized and cited as "Taken from web address so-and-so). Maybe a little unconventional but NOT plagiarism. I need to fight it now and would like to know more about how the site's program works to id plagiarism.

    Thanks for any info you can give me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    teh_uberfunker, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 2:54am

    "Being Caught"

    I am a student who was so called "Caught" by a program very similar to this. However i did not copy directly from websites, but as this program identified frases and sentinces that are similar i was accused of plagiarism. The guilty untill proven inocent is also something that i am finding difficult to combat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Dave, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 12:25pm

    Turnitin.com engages in "acceptable" thievery

    If you really think about it, TurnItIn.com is probably the king of all plagiarists and copyright infringers. Who grants TurnItIn.com the legal consent to publish the custom-written papers that originate from online companies and are not posted in the public domain by the company? The only people who could legally transfer copyright to Turnitin.com are the owners of the companies that created the papers, as the copywrite of each paper belongs solely to the company that created it, not to the customer who paid to reference it. The customer has absolutely no legal right to transfer copyright. TurnItIn.com and its ilk are basically cyber-vigilantes who steal on a grand scale and rake in millions of dollars in profit, but educators look the other way because TurnItIn.com is doing a "good" thing. That's nonsense. Stealing is stealing, no matter how some may want to spin it!

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Dtb, Aug 25th, 2006 @ 6:14pm

    Im not so smart

    Here is a nice website I stumbled upon regarding turnitin and someones experiance with dealing with the issue of copyright.
    http://www.mikesmit.com/page.php?id=23

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    FMM, Sep 10th, 2006 @ 2:49pm

    GOOD!

    Good for them for banning it. I have been fasley accused of plagerism before...and that's just not right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Charles James, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 8:18pm

    Combating Turnitin.com

    Students can help build a case against turnitin by simply adding this statement to all papers, under their name, course description and other requirements of the title page:
    Copyright © [Student's name and year, 2006, etc.] This document may not be electronically stored, transmitted or stored any individual, corporation, or nonprofit organization or entity without the express written consent of the copyright holder. Any unauthorized use constitutes copyright infringement under International copyright law.
    {the student may include the permission for the educator to store the document only in protected school databases or personal computer/media, and may transmit the documewnt only back to the student} this may make a good test case!
    Doc

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    UW-Madison senior, Sep 24th, 2006 @ 9:47pm

    Hypocrisy and laziness

    Why don't these lazy Turnitin-dependent professors do exactly what almost every single one of my teachers and profs has done since middle school--assign creative essay questions??? Maybe I'm just reeeally lucky to have at least semi-competent professionals teaching me.

    You're going to have research papers where a person can pick a topic, but you can be fairly creative with that too. For example, review rough drafts so you can watch the paper evolve, meet with them about their topic and/or discuss in class, put specific restrictions on topics (ie must be concerning a local issue/writer), require *annotated* formal or quick-and-dirty bibliographies, or actually take the time to learn and recognize your students' writing styles and/or be able to tell when the work is above or below their level (and only then question their innocence). And this is just off the top of my head, never having taught myself.

    One of my profs was just telling our class that it's easy to tell, and that cheating sites are worthless--the paper quality is bad, and even when you have it "custom written," it's usually plagiarized or pieced together anyway, and sometimes it's not on time. As my prof said, you'll be in a much bigger world of hurt if you're caught plagiarizing than if you require an undeserved extension.

    That said, I think that a company that exists to stop people from copying others' work by copying others' work (and profiting from it) is hypocritical and ethically disgusting. How audacious to make hundreds of thousands of dollars off the backs of honest students, who are often themselves on shoe-string budgets. I can't wait to see their @sses handed to them in court.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Prometheum, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re: so...The

    But every student isn't producing an essay for every teacher in every class. Its very possible to store that much data, especially since an essay submitted to turnitin is usually an assignment being worked on for a long period of time, at least in my school.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    13 yr old, Nov 21st, 2006 @ 2:36am

    but!!!

    but what if the site was taking the information in and using it actually using your evidence to commit copyright fraud. If you rely upon a site that much you should check it out before you rely all your work on it after all the internet is just a source of information that aint necessarily true

    from concerned pupil of passmores school
    M.B.Pessach

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    David, Mar 18th, 2007 @ 11:29am

    Civil Rights Violation - Freedom of Speach

    Has anyone even researched or addressed the issue concerning a civil rights violation of freedom of speach.

    Teachers are using the turnitin system to restrict honest students from expressing themselves in their own words.

    The way this system is implemented is ridiculous. Of couse it will produce matches because it compares a single paper to billions of documents. The more time passes, the more matches. There will come a time when a student's paper will result in a high percentage of matches every time as the stored documents increase.

    I don't believe there is a legal basis here for any teacher to force a student to change their paper because turnitin.com has produced a high percentage of matches. It would have to be proven that the student actually violated someone's intellectual property. Without this proof, these teachers are arbitrarily subjecting the students to punishment and violating their civil rights without legal justification.

    This system is not implemented properly. It should be used as a reference for teachers to then perform additional investigative work. Not simply obtain a percentage rating from the service then tell the student to change their paper. These teachers try to teach the students to be themselves and to express themselves; but then put them in a box and tell them to change the way they express themselves simply because turnitin.com produced a high percentage of matches. Absolutely ridiculous.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 29th, 2007 @ 5:18pm

    i have been caught by plagiarism

    yes, i was told today by my techer that i was caught cheating....an i dont no what to do my sister helpme by letting me use her paper frm her english class how is that plagiarism...? thats what stumps me the most ?

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    MR.Tonite, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 9:37pm

    What if?

    If a turn in a paper to my professor for my homeland security class and then 3 months later use the same paper, MY OWN WORK, for my terrorism class, I would be accused of plagiarism. Can I plagiarize from myself?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    unique, Dec 13th, 2007 @ 3:55pm

    plagarism

    In a day and age where information is owned by various breeds of politics and technology we have sold ourselves short from the real problem. It's not the people that are borrowing information(how can you steal knowledge, unless it is worth money), it's not the people that post their knowledge, and it's not the professors that are questioning. We treat cheating on papers as equal to adultery. Why don't we just all post the names of our spouses (costs money), which detects the cheaters and call it affair.com. To me it's just another lousy reason for all people involved to be lazy. One wants to share, another wants to borrow, and another wants to execute the trade. Where's the mediator? It sounds to me like we need to review our laws on infringement. How can the educational institution penalize a student when it isn't their copyrights that were violated? Teacher's can give F's for one sentence being plagiarized and they can also give A's for blow jobs. The judgment is biased. I find it funny how the educational institutional can make mandates, but fail to perceive the errors. Basically if they can make us sign a paper for this, what's next that we will allow them to do?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    ian, Aug 24th, 2010 @ 6:54pm

    akemoneyonline

    Dominican University subscribes to a plagiarism prevention and detection resource: Turnitin.com. Turnitin helps students properly cite quotations and ideas in their papers. Instructors and students may submit electronic copies of papers to Turnitin.com and receive an originality report. The report indicates how much of the paper is original and how much has been copied from other sources. It does differentiate between text that is properly quoted, and text that has been copied without quotation marks. Turnitin is used to check rough drafts of papers, and to grade final drafts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    ian, Nov 26th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    http://howtodealwithdepression.org

    wow, awesome post, I was wondering the same thing. and found your site by google, many userful stuff here, now i have got some idea. bookmarked and also signed up your rss. keep us updated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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