Monday, August 13, 2007

Plagiarism Decrease on use of Detection Software?

The German online SZ-online (Süddeutsche) reports that a dean of a business school has said that the amount of plagiarism has sharply decreased since they started using plagiarism detection software.

Now, I know of no method for actually measuring the amount of plagiarism, as we can only measure the plagiarisms that we actually find. And the intermediate results of my plagiarism detection software test are not encouraging.

It may be that this works as a psychological deterrent - but as soon as students wise up to the fact that the software doesn't catch everything, things will probably return to normal.

Or is anyone aware of any research that a) measures the actual amount of plagiarism or b) that detection software works as a deterrent?

In lieu of scientific findings, this is just wishful thinking.

1 comment:

  1. THe best way to determine the amount of actual plagiarism in an academic environment is the anonymous surveys that go around every so often. Though riddled with problems, they are at least somewhat more reliable than "what we catch" as a sample.

    The underlying problems remain, we can never really know how much plagiarism there is, sadly.

    All that plagiarism detection software does is force an evolution of the plagiarist, pushing them toward paper writing services, synonymizing programs and other tools designed to dodge the pesky checkers.

    The only way to stop plagiarism is to craft plagiarism-proof assignments. That, sadly, requires more effort on the part of instructors.

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