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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA fights plagiarism with online service

    UA officials paid $36,000 for a three-semester-long subscription to an online plagiarism-prevention service in an effort to reduce the number of academic-integrity violations.

    The service, Turnitin.com, allows professors to review student assignments for any potential plagiarism by comparing them to billions of current and archived Internet pages, millions of previously submitted student papers and commercial databases of journal articles and periodicals.

    The program provides teachers with a report that includes a percent-based similarity index along with a color-coded system that corresponds to the severity of plagiarism, according to the company’s Web site.

    In 2005 there were 325 reported cases of plagiarism and undergraduate students committed 315 of those violations, said Anne Marie Jones, senior program coordinator for the vice provost of instruction.

    In 2004, there were a total of 319 cases of plagiarism, and undergraduate students were responsible for 314 of those cases, Jones said.

    Robert Hendricks, associate dean of the College of Education, said he receives an average of two plagiarism cases a week.

    “”The issue of plagiarism is rampant,”” said Hendricks, who was a strong proponent for the use of Turnitin.com.

    The program will allow teachers to concentrate on addressing the causes of plagiarism rather than wasting time searching for them.

    “”The most frequent excuse that I hear from students who plagiarize is ‘I was in a rush’ or ‘I didn’t have enough time,'”” said Hendricks.

    Tyler Renzi, a freshman majoring in business, submitted his work to Turnitin.com when he was in high school.

    “”It (turnitin.com) took papers very deliberately,”” Renzi said.

    Renzi said that the program would initially flag cited sources as plagiarism, but ultimately approved the text.

    “”If you’re a good student, then you have nothing to worry about,”” Renzi said.

    Students from the Eller College of Management, the College of Science and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are already familiar with the program because those colleges employed Turnitin.com’s services last year, Jones said.

    Fifteen UA colleges contributed $2,400 each to pay for the program, which will now be available to all UA colleges, Jones said.

    Dani M. Alvarez, a freshman majoring in architecture, remains skeptical of the necessity for such a program at the UA.

    “”I don’t think it’s that big of a deal that we really need the program,”” Alvarez said.

    Mac Wiseley, a pre-business freshman, said the program is a good idea, but he thinks there’s no such thing as original thought.

    “”You need to take other people’s ideas and make them your own,”” Wiseley said.

    Both Hendricks and Jones said the service will discourage students from plagiarizing. Hendricks said he believes more students will be caught for plagiarizing initially by the program, and Jones said she thinks student plagiarism will be immediately discouraged by the service.

    Hendricks said that he wanted the program to be “”a wake-up call for students not to plagiarize.””

    Possible punishment for plagiarizing ranges from a verbal warning to expulsion depending on the severity of the offense, Hendricks said.

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