High-Tech Cheating and Term Papers

Teachers tell me they would assign more term papers if they had an easy way to check for plagiarism. I know there are companies that do this sort of thing, but aren’t they expensive? I’m just not sure it’s worth the cost.

It is true that the Internet, coupled with the copy-and-paste features of applications programs, makes it extremely easy for students to plagiarize. However, according to a recent national poll, just 15% of high school students admitted to copying or purchasing online term papers. By the same token, many instances of plagiarism are frequently accidental. As a result, some teachers are shifting their thinking. Instead of using commercial programs or search engines like Google to catch cheaters, they’re using tools to teach students how to avoid plagiarizing someone else’s work. For example, a by-subscription product, called Turnitin, includes a feature called an originality report. Students submit early drafts of their papers online and receive feedback about whether or not the material is properly cited. The teacher also gets the report and can work with students to make corrections before the final draft is submitted. Teachers can also catch copying by Googling phrases and sentences that don’t ring true. Although this does the job, it is extra work for the teacher.

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