McGill student wins fight over anti-cheating website
Last Updated Fri, 16 Jan 2004 11:11:57 EST
TORONTO - A student at McGill University has won the right to have his
assignments marked without first submitting them to an American, anti-
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
"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
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
Anti-cheating database banned at N.S. university
Last Updated Wed, 08 Mar 2006 11:36:09 EST
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
'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
FROM NOV. 9, 2005: N.S. students lobby against
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
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
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-
Brushett acknowledges that some students do cheat, but she fears someone
could be accused of plagiarism before the professor even reads that person's
"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.