Experiences with TurnitinWhat successes or failures have you had using turnitin or similar plagiarism detection software? 

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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I've used turnitin.com for nearly 3 years now.  Our college English dept. purchased it.  I personally like it very much, although we're now beginning to use a free program provided through Blackboard that works just as well, in my opinion.  I've had very little negativity towards turnitin.com and would recommend it to others.

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blacksheepunite | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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We had Turnitin for a semester then got bogged down in a discussion of the morality of using the site (if you can believe it). Our administration, ever careful of avoiding bad press and/ or lawsuits, and perpetually cash strapped, took the discussion as a justification for turfing it before we even got accustomed to using it.

I find google marginally effective--it works with the students who aren't bright enough to cheat effectively, but I know there are still many others who slip through because they are better at cheating. Sure, I caught the football player who wrote about something being "truncated", not because he used that word, but because he also plagiarized the entire essay word for word, but I know I've missed some that I sensed were cheating but couldn't prove. One of my colleagues posts all of the study help sites he can find--his premise is that if he offers them, his students couldn't possibly think they could get away with cheating from any of those sites. But again, I'm not sure that's foolproof either.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Our district paid for our subscription. 

i agree that most of the time I think a paper or a section has been copied it probably has, and yes, it can be found on Google in most cases.  However, this site is an incredible time saver.  Instead of weeding through search engines to see if I can find anything that matches, all the work is taken care of.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Don't sites like these cost lots of money? If so, where does the funding come from?  Does your district pay for it? 

I usually just use Google or some other search engine to see if a line or lines in my students' papers is lifted from some previously published work.  By the time I get to research papers, I know their writing style and the words they are most likely to use, and 90% of the time, I find my gut instinct is correct.

 

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Turnitin.com is designed to catch any three-five words in succession that occur in order to catch the plagiarists. One professor of mine in college basically allowed a certain percentage of "red" in every paper because the same three words sometimes do occur without deliberately copying. We were told to unofficially submit our papers to the site first and make any corrections or citations that needed to be made before submitting it officially, that way we would be sure not to have anything left uncited. Then we were told that only 20% or less of each paper (bearing in mind these papers ranged anywhere from 15-40 pages) could consist of citations. It worked and it really helped to have a kind of pre-submission to check the validity of our citations and other work.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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From the high school standpoint, google is my best source.  I've also found great results just typing in the topic of the paper.  Even the smartest high school students are naive, and the first few hits from a topic search will be the source for the stolen work.

When all else fails, I turn to the direct approach.  Taking a suspect phrase or section and having a student explain his/her thinking will quickly reveal authenticity. 

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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My university is adopting a policy of having all papers be submitted to turnitin.  I have very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, it paints all guilty until proven innocent.  On the other, it reduces my leg work and instills a fear factor I alone could not deliver. 

And luannw (post 3) makes a good point.  The larger the body of the database grows, the more likely it is to catch a thief...

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asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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I just use  Google most of the time.  I just type in a suspect phrase and I'd say 90% of the time, my gut is right.  One thing I've also done is to make kids turn in copies of the websites they use.  That puts a little fear into them if they know all I have to do is flip through their sources.  Most of them are too lazy to actually plagiarize from a book because it involves typing it out!

Here's a free site someone told me about, but I haven't actually tried it with a student paper yet.

http://www.plagiarismchecker.com/

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Sadly, Jamie, if I tried to Google all the suspect phrases I get from the papers submitted by some classes, I'd get little else accomplished.   Another downside to Turnitin is that when the site shows me the student's paper and what it considers plagiarism, the format of the paper is changed.  This makes it harder for me to find the text underlined by Turnitin in the student's paper.  I like to underline, with a colored pencil, anything the student didn't change or didn't properly cite.

 

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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My university is adopting a policy of having all papers be submitted to turnitin.  I have very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, it paints all guilty until proven innocent.  On the other, it reduces my leg work and instills a fear factor I alone could not deliver. 

And luannw (post 3) makes a good point.  The larger the body of the database grows, the more likely it is to catch a thief...

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The only thing I don't like about turnitin is that it red flags anything that's directly quoted - even those passages that are corrected cited.  The site still saves a ton of time, but most times I still have to dig through the results of the website's searches to see if the student actually plagiarized or not.

Other than that, it's made grading opinion and persuasion essays a breeze.  Anything that students are supposed to write without research is an easy check.  It's red flagged numerous attempts to copy papers off the internet already, and I've only used it for a semester.  This, coupled with our cheating policy, has really led to a decrease in the number of students trying to get away with copying.

  I've had similar experiences with turnitin.  Though my university has subscribed to it for some time, typically a search of suspect phrases on google has delivered all the proof I need. 

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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I agree with mrerick on the downside of Turnitin.  I've written to them and suggested that they make this change, in fact.

I had a student last year try to turn in a research paper that had been written the previous year by a student who had submitted her paper to Turnitin (not one of my students, but one from my school).  The paper came back with a 98% similarity and because the site tells you the source of the copying, I could go to the original writer and tell her I knew that she'd given her paper to another student.  The more teachers use Turnitin and the more students see they cannot get away with copying and pasting, or simply copying, the more students are writing on their own.

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The only thing I don't like about turnitin is that it red flags anything that's directly quoted - even those passages that are corrected cited.  The site still saves a ton of time, but most times I still have to dig through the results of the website's searches to see if the student actually plagiarized or not.

Other than that, it's made grading opinion and persuasion essays a breeze.  Anything that students are supposed to write without research is an easy check.  It's red flagged numerous attempts to copy papers off the internet already, and I've only used it for a semester.  This, coupled with our cheating policy, has really led to a decrease in the number of students trying to get away with copying.

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spazzer16 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

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Well... when dealing with plagerism... Turnitin.com helps alot 2 kids in my comp lab were caught plagerizing and kicked from Rio salado online college courses

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