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McGill student wins fight over anti-cheating website Last Updated Fri, 16 Jan 2004 11:11:57 EST CBC News TORONTO - A student at McGill University has won the right to have his assignments marked without first submitting them to an American, anti- plagiarism website. Jesse Rosenfeld refused to submit three assignments for his second-year economics class to Turnitin.com, a website that compares submitted works to other student essays in its database, as well as to documents on the web and published research papers. The site prepares an "originality report" on how the submitted work compares with other documents. It can also evaluate students' papers for spelling, grammar and structural errors. McGill was using the website as part of a trial use of its services, which expired in December. Students submitted their papers to the website for a preliminary evaluation, after which their work was marked by instructors. Jesse Rosenfeld Rosenfeld, 19, said he refused to submit his work to the website because it's offensive to most students who are honest and work hard to create original material. "What I object to most about the policy at McGill is that it treats students as though we are guilty until proven innocent," said Rosenfeld, in a media release from the Canadian Federation of Students. Rosenfeld also objected to the California-based company profiting from its database of student work. Rosenfeld initially received a zero on all three assignments. McGill agreed this week to mark Rosenfeld's papers, giving him marks ranging from B+ to C+. The software behind Turnitin.com was designed by a graduate student at Berkeley University in California, but that school has refused to use it. It has been adopted, however, at several schools in the U.S. and at 29 universities in Canada. The Canadian Federation of Students says this amounts to allowing technology to evaluate and grade student papers. The group says it's a reaction to ballooning classroom sizes and government funding cuts. "The reality is that the high monitoring of students really isn't about catching cheaters, it is a substitute for hiring enough faculty members to take the time to read student work," said Ian Boyko, national chair of the student federation. Anti-cheating database banned at N.S. university Last Updated Wed, 08 Mar 2006 11:36:09 EST CBC News A university in the Halifax area is banning the use of computer software designed to help professors catch plagiarists. Student leaders at Mount Saint Vincent University in Bedford, N.S., have been lobbying to stop professors from using the online database turnitin.com, and the university's senate agreed in a vote on Monday. 'It's the feeling of guilt The university is banning all plagiarism detection when you go in a software as of May, when the summer session begins. classroom, the fact that your intellectual "Students go to university for a higher education. They property is not being don't go to be involved in a culture of mistrust, a culture valued the way it of guilt," said Chantal Brushett, president of the students should.' –Students union. union president Chantal Brushett FROM NOV. 9, 2005: N.S. students lobby against cheat-and-tell site About 4,000 schools worldwide use the California-based subscription site to check whether a student's work is really someone else's. Assignments submitted to professors are uploaded to turnitin.com. The program then checks each student's paper against a database of more than 4.5 billion pages of newspapers, academic journals, books and other students' reports. If a student's paper has more than eight consecutive words in common with another source, the words are highlighted, alerting the instructor to possible plagiarism. Students at several Canadian universities that use the service have objected to the practice, saying an American company is profiting by fostering an atmosphere of distrust at Canadian campuses. They also don't like the fact that their own work becomes part of the database when it is submitted. FROM DEC. 27, 2003: McGill student continues fight against anti- plagiarism website Brushett acknowledges that some students do cheat, but she fears someone could be accused of plagiarism before the professor even reads that person's paper. "It's the feeling of guilt when you go in a classroom, the fact that your intellectual property is not being valued the way it should," she said. Despite Mount Saint Vincent University's action this week, Dalhousie University in nearby Halifax still supports turnitin.com. "Universities are having to deal with an increased use of plagiarized material [and] a softer sense among some of our student population about what honesty entails," said Sam Scully, vice-president academic at Dalhousie.
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