The Growing Backlash Against Automated Cheating Detectors

from the but-for-a-good-reason dept

It's been nearly four years since we wrote about students and parents being upset that online services that check student homework for plagiarism were also uploading and storing a copy of every paper they checked. It got to the point, earlier this year, that at least one university banned the use of Turnitin, one of the most popular services in this field. It seems that the student rebellion against such tools is growing, as many more students are questioning the legality of such tools, and asking their schools to stop using them. They're not just upset about the uploads, but about the assumption of guilt. While there clearly is plenty of plagiarism to go around, that doesn't mean this is the right solution to it. It's often easy to just throw technology at a problem, but it's worth recognizing that doing so always raises unexpected issues -- and those issues may not be technological on their own, but legal and cultural issues. It seems like many of the schools who jumped on the Turnitin bandwagon didn't spend much time thinking about those additional consequences, and are now facing student anger because of it.

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  1. identicon
    University Student, 30 Mar 2007 @ 4:54am

    Re: Facts are Facts

    Oh, contrare Mr. Hussain! Any other subscriber to the system who gets a comparison match, even if it is one sentence, may request a full and complete copy of the "original" work. The student is NOT the one who gives permission for this, it is the professor who has the account.

    The company is making money by selling the comparison capability to papers that I write and not compensating me justly for such papers/works. Besides, this service will end up in commercial and government hands at some point in the future for job screening, etc., and if the professor does not release the copy to the inquiring party at that time so that you may prove it is your paper that was flagged as "stolen" how are you going to prove to the potential employer that it really was your paper in the database and not somebody else's? Given the level of professional plagiarism going on (ie. news reporters, etc.) where would YOU stand then? I'll tell you, you'll be moving on to the next application/employer, never knowing why you got ditched!

    This is such a complex issue, it cannot be answered in one post. Look through this thread to see other Pro-Freedom, Anti-Turnitin comments - maybe then you'll get the bigger picture.

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