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									                                                                 Plagiarism 1


                 Reducing Plagiarism with Technology Solutions
                                Kristi N. Garrett
                    The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa
                                                                                         Plagiarism 2

       Is the occurrence of plagiarism an oversight or intentional deception? Course after

course, students within the education system are reprimanded for plagiarism and it continues

without showing signs of ceasing with the increased use of the Internet. The 2008 United States

vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was recently marked as using the words from one of

Newt Gingrich’s articles as words of her own. An article in the Huffington Post states that Palin

did give credit to Gingrich at the beginning and end of her speech and she did not use exact

phrases, but instead paraphrased which is not considered plagiarism among the masses. With

this being a media highlight, it offers questions about what constitutes plagiarism and how to

diminish this issue within our education system.

       According to Olivas and Thompson (2008), plagiarism occurs when the original owner of

a source of ideas, opinions, theories, facts, or words is not given recognition. However, if the

information is considered common knowledge and can be found in multiple reference sources,

such as, dictionaries, encyclopedia, or almanacs, then citation is not required. In effort to reduce

plagiarism, different software is now available to help identify illegal use of words. Let us first

take a look at how plagiarism has been transformed into Internet businesses, therefore requiring

the education systems to take more drastic approaches.

       With the wide range of information available on the Internet, the use of “Paper Mills” is

becoming the new phenomena. Ronald Roach (1998) explains paper milling as a method of

selling research, essays, and other forms of pre-written class documents to desperate students

with the use of the Internet. In order to understand the paper mill method, a quick overview of a

couple available paper mills is worth mentioning.
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       AcaDemon, Bookrag, and 123HelpMe are three competitors in the paper milling industry

that offer pre-written documents that are available to the student consumer (see sites for

AcaDemon, Bookrag, and 123HelpMe, 2009). reports that their site contains over

8.3 million pages of content available to their consumers. reports that their site

contains over 3,000 essays, narratives, and research documents. AcaDemon has reportedly been

buying and selling documents from a student clientele of over 120,000 since 2000. The cost of

pre-written documents on these sites range from around $17 and above depending on the

required time span and the page quantity. There are several Internet sites available to desperate

students, for which the students fail to do a quality validation check on the pre-written

documents for plagiary, therefore requiring instructors to become more informed on how to use

plagiarism prevention tools.

       One of the more familiar plagiarism software tools that detect plagiarism is called

TurnItIn. TurnItIn is designed to assist the instructor with preventing oversight of citation in

documents. As an online instructor for Virginia College Online, I have had the opportunity to

use TurnItIn for my classes and found it to be useful, yet it contains other features that could

require more in depth training for instructors whom are less technology savvy. The way that the

tool works is by having the students submit their work into the TurnItIn repository. Virginia

College Online actually had the tool linked within the course management system, Angel, so that

the instructor could create a folder in TurnItIn for the applicable assignment. Other course

management systems that support TurnItIn are Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, and Desire2Learn.

When the instructor is ready to grade the assignments he/she can perform a scan that displays

results based on originality, in which the instructor can allow the student to see the results,
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therefore providing an opportunity for the student to include the proper citations before their

final submission.

       According to a study done by Gregory (2002) at the University of Maine, TurnItIn did

not uncover all recognizable material. In his findings, TurnItIn was limited in its ability to detect

and flag plagiarized material from the following source material: password protected sites, PDF

files, foreign languages, with the exception of some Spanish. Therefore, this makes it more

tempting for students to use paper milling sites like AcaDemon, Bookrag, and 123HelpMe

because the commonality of these sites is that they require a user name and password in order to

access and place orders, as a result the inability of some of the plagiarism prevention tools to

search theses sites makes it harder for instructors to reduce plagiarism in their classes. Below is

a screenshot of a sample originality report from a TurnItIn tutorial. The red and green text in the

left column matches Internet sites that contain the same text. The right column corresponds with

the numbered text in the left column and also includes the percentage of the text match with that

of the Internet site. Source number one shows that it is a 31% match from Therefore, it can be concluded that this verbiage was copied from the

Internet site. However, TurnItIn does not show if this information was properly cited, so the

instructor would need to perform a citation validation.
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Figure 1: TurnItIn Originality Report provided by

        Another plagiarism detection tool is SafeAssign (also known as MyDropBox).

According to the Internet website, SafeAssign (2009) was developed by and is available on the

Blackboard course management system with a free trial version. Kanner and Fiedler (2008) did

a study on TurnItIn and SafeAssign, in which they concluded that both lacked sufficient ability

to identify plagiarism of password protected databases. In a comparison of the same set of

papers, “SafeAssign missed 8 out of 13 plagiarized papers and TurnItIn missed 9 out of 13”

(Kanner and Fielder, 2008, p. 187). This reflection shows that neither tool is capable of

identifying 100% of plagiarism. Below is a screenshot of a sample originality report provided by

SafeAssign. Notice the yellow highlighted portions in the report represent material that is

flagged as plagiarized information from a paper mill source. The green highlighted portion was

flagged as information from an Internet source. Again, the instructor would need to perform a

quality check on the student’s paper in order to determine if the proper citations were included.
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Figure 2: SafeAssign Originality Report provided by

        In a world saturated with technology, educators are challenged with identifying pedagogy

techniques that will help educate students on plagiary prevention, although, there seems to be a

lack of concern amongst many of our students in regards to plagiarism, therefore requiring

alternate means of addressing the issue. Students do not realize that they are cheating

themselves out of learning the proper techniques for essay and research writing. The desire for

fast and easy “microwave” results is the driving force for our society, which seems to decrease

the desire and value of a true pedagogical experience. Technology has opened the doors to better

assist our educators, but the workload is increasing which limits pedagogical preparation and

forces the educators to become more of quality managers over their classes. A key solution is

providing more technology focused training for educators in order to preserve the merit of our

education system.
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AcaDemon. (2009). AcaDemon. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from

Bookrags. (2009). Bookrags. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from

Gregory, J. (2002). Ensuring academic integrity in the age of the Internet:

       Evaluating a web- based analytic tool. [Electronic version]. IEEE Conference

       Processings, 2, 1363 – 1364.

Kanner, C., Fielder, R. (2008). A cautionary note on checking software engineering

       papers for plagiarism. [Electronic version]. IEEE Transactions, Volume 51, Issue 2, 184

       – 188.

Lathrop, A., Foss, K.E. (2000). Student cheating and plagiarism in the Internet era. Colorado:

       Libraries Unlimited, LLC.

Olivas, T. &Thompson, S. (2008). Plagiarism Prevention for Students. Retrieved July 16,

       2009 from

Roach, R. (1998). Diverse: Issues in higher education. Retrieved July 13, 2009 from

Weiner, R. (2009, June). Palin denies plagiarism. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from

123HelpMe. (2009). 123HelpMe. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from

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