Minimising Plagiarism by t1mYG7

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									                    Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                    Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                    www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning




Plagiarism detection software: How effective
is it?
The first thing to note about plagiarism detection software is that much of it is ephemeral. The
available software tends to come and go: new software and websites surface and then disappear. It is
difficult to predict how many stable products will emerge.

On the whole, plagiarism detection software can make a useful contribution to minimising plagiarism.
The visible use of such software is a strong deterrent to students who are considering plagiarising
material. It should be recognised, however, that the software provides no magical answers. Some is
expensive; most is time-consuming. No software seems to discriminate between quotations which are
properly cited and those which are unacknowledged: what the software detects and notifies is
duplication. So reports issued by plagiarism software alert the user to what may appear to be
plagiarized material that is in fact appropriately referenced. Manual checking and human judgement
are still needed.

Some plagiarism detection schemes require students to submit their work electronically directly to the
software company. The company then sends a report on submitted student work to the university. It
is important to note that assignment formatting may be lost during the detection process. As a
consequence, students must also submit either an electronic copy or hard copy of their work to the
university as well – raising the question of how it can be ensured the two versions are identical. If
students submit electronic copy, lecturers have to print out the assignment – time-consuming
operations in cases where lecturers are assessing large numbers of students.

Some software programs concentrate on comparing the material submitted within a defined group of
students; others compare the material submitted with either an in-house data base (compiled
cumulatively by the software company), or the web, or both. A number of software plagiarism
detection companies offer as part of their service the archiving of student essays, which in turn gives
lecturers a specialized in-house data base and, in some cases, the possibility of a secure web
environment which can be accessed by students for purposes related to group assessment and peer
review.

It is worth remembering, of course, that ‘traditional’ plagiarism — text copied from books rather than
downloaded from the Web — may well persist, but cannot be electronically detected.




Excerpt from James, R., McInnis, C. and Devlin, M. (2002)              Assessing Learning in Australian
Universities. This section was prepared by Marcia Devlin.
                       Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                       Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                       www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning



   Plagiarism Detection Software

   NAME                        FEATURES/                                   PROS/CONS                              COSTS
                               TECHNIQUES


Copycatch                   A UK system which concentrates on           PROS: The JISC (Joint Information      Approx $700 AUD to purchase
                            comparison within a group of                Systems Committee – HEFCE-             software.
http://www.copycatch.free   students. The software compares             funded UK organization) gave this
serve.co.uk/vocalyse.htm    text from work collected by email or        software five stars for detection,
                            on disk using a similarity threshold        clarity, value, user-friendliness,
                            that will detect essays which are very      speed and reliability.
                            similar or dissimilar to other class        CONS: Detects only collusion
                            essays by communality of words and          among students, and cannot detect
                            phrases.                                    material downloaded from the Web




Glatt Plagiarism            Uses the ‘fingerprint’ method. It           PROS: Useful for detecting             Approx $580 AUD to purchase
Screening Program           exploits the uniqueness of each             plagiarism where the original source   software.
                            individual’s linguistic patterns –          material cannot be located.
(GPSP)                      ‘cloze’ technique. It eliminates every      CONS: Students actually have to sit    Additional financial commitment is
                            fifth word of a student’s paper and         down to a test to fulfil the           required for a subscription to the
http://www.plagiarism.co    replaces the words with a blank             requirements.                          Plagiarism Screening Service to
m/INDEX.HTM                 which the student is asked to fill in.                                             provide the scoring for submitted
                            The number of correct responses is                                                 tests.
                            one of the factors considered in the
                            production of a final probability score.




   Plagiarism Detection Software                                                                                                                    2
                           Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                           Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                           www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning



   NAME                            FEATURES/                                   PROS/CONS                                 COSTS
                                   TECHNIQUES


Turnitin.com is the            The technology used is called                PROS: Covers a huge range of              A free one-month trial is available.
user portal for                ‘document source analysis’. It uses a        sources. Offers a digital portfolio       Costs are for subscription rather than
                               set of algorithms to make a digital          service. in which students’ work is       purchase and vary according to
Plagiarism.org.                fingerprint of any text document, and        archived.                                 extent of commitment. The web
                               then compares it against Internet            CONS: The user has to check the           page provides quotations depending
http://www.turnitin.com/       sources and against an in-house              report carefully because the software     on numbers of classes, numbers of
                               database. Results are compiled into          detects correctly-cited material as       students, and so on.
                               an ‘originality report’ which colour-        well as plagiarised material. As in
                               codes and underlines text passages           similar programs, formatting is lost in
                               showing similarities to other sources,       the checking procedure, so essays
                               and gives the URLs of the sources.           for marking have to be submitted
                                                                            separately from essays for checking.


EVE2 - Essay                   Performs searches to find Internet           PROS: Tests against wide area of          Download free for 15 days; purchase
Verification Engine            sites with similarities to the submitted     internet.                                 for approx $40 AUD. Each user must
                               text. Produces report underlining text       CONS: Each piece of work has to be        purchase a separate copy and
http://www.canexus.com/        passages possibly plagiarised.               individually loaded and checked by        licence.
eve/index.shtml                                                             the lecturer.

Plagiserve                     A system which checks the originality        PROS: Tests against extensive in-         Free.
                               of reports by comparing students’            house database and internet
http://www.plagiserve.co       work with its own database and the           searches
m/                             internet. It provides an originality         CONS:
                               report that colour codes possibly            Formatting is lost during the checking
                               plagiarised passages and provides            process, so material has to be
                               direct links to the original source.         handed in separately. Has been
                                                                            claimed to be associated with cheat
                                                                            sites.



   Plagiarism Detection Software                                                                                                                               3
                       Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                       Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                       www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning



   NAME                        FEATURES/                                   PROS/CONS                            COSTS
                               TECHNIQUES


WordCHECK DP                Software which profiles documents           PROS: Similar system to Copycatch.   Profiler Basic $185
                            by identifying key word use, allowing                                            ($115 academic price)
http://www.wordchecksyst    users to search manually for                CONS: Uses only internal database.   Profiler Pro $570
ems.com/wordcheck-          matching documents based upon               Manual checking of each piece of     ($345 academic price)
dp.html                     word use and frequency patterns.            work is very time-consuming.         Users can add “profile capacity” as
                            Uses an internal database. Produces                                              they go:
                            report with key-word profiles and                                                2,000 profiles - $380
                            word frequency lists.                                                            5,000 profiles - $760
                                                                                                             10,000 profiles - $1,540
                                                                                                             (All dollars approximate AUD.)


WordCHECK RA                An upmarket package which is aimed          PROS: As for the DP version.         RA Individual Desktop $380
                            at academic research rather than                                                 ($185 academic price)
http://www.wordchecksyst    student assignments. Works on the           CONS: As for the DP version.         RA Department Desktop $1,925
ems.com/wordcheck-          same principles as the DP version.                                               ($1,347 academic price)
ra.html                                                                                                      plus profile expansion
                                                                                                             (All dollars approximate AUD.)

Moss                        MOSS is an acronym for Measure of           PROS: Designed with a special        Free but restricted to instructors and
                            Software Similarity – an internal           focus on computer programming        staff of computer programming
http://www.cs.berkeley.ed   system at Berkeley developed                code rather than text.               courses. A request must be sent to
u/~aikenn/moss/html         specifically for computer                   CONS: Limited in scope.              use.
                            programming fields.




   Plagiarism Detection Software                                                                                                                      4
                        Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                        Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                        www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning



   NAME                         FEATURES/                                   PROS/CONS                             COSTS
                                TECHNIQUES


SIM                          Another computer code plagiarism            PROS: As for Moss                     Available free through the website of
                             detector. SIM tests lexical similarity                                            the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam,
http://www.cs.vu.nl/~dick/   in a number of languages including          CONS: As for Moss                     where the software was developed.
sim.html                     Java, Pascal, Lisp, and Miranda. It
and                          detects potentially duplicated code
http://www.cs.vu.nl/pub/di   fragments in software projects.
ck/similarity_tester/

JPlag                        System that finds similarities among        PROS: The only software that can      Free, but an account must be applied
                             multiple sets of source code files.         deal with programming-type work as    for on the website.
http://wwwipd.ira.uka.de:2   Designed for detecting plagiarism in        well as ordinary text.
222/                         computer programming but can                CONS: Limited and less effective in
                             support plain text as well (although        its use with ordinary text.
                             with less satisfactory results).

Google                       Primarily a search engine and not a         PROS: Quick and free. Google          Free
                             plagiarism detector, Google is              extracts from pdf files, which many
http://www/google.com        nevertheless able to detect phrases         search engines cannot do.
                             and can rapidly identify source             CONS: Unsystematic, and involves
                             material from the Internet.                 manual entry of strings. Labour-
                                                                         intensive.




   Plagiarism Detection Software                                                                                                                       5
                     Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                     Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                     www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning



  Comparison Of Plagiarism Software Features
                                                                                          Word    Word
                      Copy         Glatt      Turnitin.                   Plagi
                                                             EVE2                        CHECK   CHECK   Moss   Sim   JPlag   Google
                      catch       (GPSP)        com                       serve
                                                                                           DP      RA

Checks against
Web?                   X            X             Y            Y            Y             X       X       X     X      X        Y

Checks against its
own data base?
                       X            X             Y            X            Y             Y       Y       Y     Y      Y        X

Cross-checks with
other students’        Y            X             Y            X            Y             Y       Y       X     Y      Y        X
work?

Purchase?              Y            Y             X            Y            X             Y       Y       X     X      X        X


Subscription?          X            Y             Y            X            Y             Y       Y       Y     X      Y        X


Free?                  X            X             X            X            Y             X       X       Y     Y      Y        Y

Checks ordinary
text?                  Y            Y             Y            Y            Y             Y       Y       X     X      Y        Y

Checks computer
programming?           X            X             X            X            X             X       X       Y     Y      Y        X



  Plagiarism Detection Software                                                                                                        6
                      Assessing Learning in Australian Universities
                      Ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment
                      www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning

                                                                                           Word    Word
                       Copy         Glatt      Turnitin.                   Plagi
                                                              EVE2                        CHECK   CHECK   Moss   Sim   JPlag   Google
                       catch       (GPSP)        com                       serve
                                                                                            DP      RA

Students sit test?      X            Y             X            X            X             X       X       X     X      X        X

Designed for use
by students?
                        X            X             Y            X            X             X       X       X     X      X        Y

Designed for use
by teachers?            Y            Y             Y            Y            Y             Y       Y       Y     Y      Y        Y


Instant response?       X            X             X            Y            X             Y       Y       X     Y      X        Y




   Plagiarism Detection Software                                                                                                        7

								
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