Indiana Daily Student

New software to stop cheating

TurnItIn could assist University in detecting student plagiarism

To some students, copying and pasting some information here and there into the usual English paper doesn't seem like such a big deal. These students question how professors will ever know.\nBut with the new software, TurnItIn, that IU faculty and staff are test-running in classes, those few stolen words could turn into a plagiarism dilemma.\nTurnItIn, the new software available to universities across the country for catching plagiarism, has found its way into IU's computer systems.\n"This software is available nationally for universities to subscribe to, and we've been using it in a limited way, making it available to faculty," said Pamela Freeman, associate dean of students and director for the Office of Student Ethics.\nThe new software, which matches a student's paper with the entire publicly accessible Internet, millions of published works and every student paper ever submitted to TurnItIn, is available to IU faculty for a test run.\nWilliam Wheeler, a professor of mathematics and a member of the Bloomington Faculty Council, brought the issue of TurnItIn to the council meeting Tuesday, offering a resolution for the University to make it available to all students and instructors.\nDuring the meeting, Wheeler brought up the concern of student rights in using this software. \n"One of the issues that has arisen is the protection of students' intellectual rights," he said. "Two ways of going about that are getting written permission from the students, or letting the University have control of the databases."\nWhile it was a concern for faculty to have student permission, about 40 professors and instructors signed up to use the new software. Now that written permission from the student isn't needed anymore, about 80 have signed up to use the program.\nAnother issue brought up at the meeting was the proposal in the resolution to make TurnItIn available to students.\n"The thought here is that students will be able to submit their own papers to TurnItIn," Wheeler said. "It will educate them on what plagiarism is and they will have that option of direct feedback."\nWheeler is proposing that students will be able to directly submit their work to TurnItIn, see if anything they have written is plagiarism and learn from their mistakes.\nWhile it seems bold, he said that it would be up to the instructor whether to offer it to the students for use or not.\nWhile the resolution was a compilation of three parts, only the third portion was voted on and favored unanimously. \nThe third part, which states, "The Office of Instructional Support Services, in consultation with the Educational Policies Committee and the Student Affairs Committee, should continue the current pilot test of the TurnItIn software," was approved by the BFC; while the other parts, which would make it available to all students and instructors, were set aside for the next meeting.\nAlthough it's not fully instituted yet, the test run of TurnItIn will continue to be available for faculty to try out.\n-- Contact staff writer Rachel Ward at raward@indiana.edu.

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