Thursday, September 27, 2007

Test of Plagiarism Detection Software

It's finished, it's published. We worked feverishly right up to the wire. On Sept. 26 we sent copies of the preliminary reports (they were still in line for some language polishing) to the companies tested, so that they could prepare a statement, if they so chose.

We held a press conference this afternoon, cutting over to the new version of the plagiarism portal and the E-Learning unit on plagiarism detection ("Fremde Federn Finden", in German) at the start of the conference. We had 5 reporters in attendance and many who requested virtual press materials. The online magazine "Spiegel Online" had requested that we write a summary article for them, so we just cut out sleep for a few days in order to get it done.

We have had a lot of interest from reports and of course the companies tested. If we learn of other systems, we will be glad to test them as we have time (which will be spare time, as the financing for this project runs out tomorrow), although the results might not be comparable, as the Internet is constantly changing.

Here is a copy of the ranking page:


Excellent Systems

No system was ranked as excellent - but there have been many people who attended plagiarism detection seminars who scored 100% on the same tests!

Good Systems

Nr. 1 : Ephorus

Acceptable Systems

Nr. 2 : Docoloc
Nr. 3 : Urkund, Copyscape (premium), PlagAware
Nr. 6 : Copyscape (free)
Nr. 7 : TextGuard
Nr. 8 : turnitin, ArticleChecker
Nr. 10 : picapica

Unacceptable Systems

Nr. 11 : DocCop
Nr. 12 : iPlagiarismCheck, StrikePlagiarism
Nr. 14 : CatchItFirst

We hope that our work can help these companies to produce better results. But our summary for 2007 is the same as for 2004: It is better to use a search machine yourself, the software just costs money and is not necessarily very good at finding all plagiarisms.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blog post on plagiarism detection

I am busy round the clock tidying up and getting my report about plagiarism detection finished for Thursday, and one major online publication has requested that we also write an article for them, so sleep is down to a minimum at the moment.

But I must post this link from "Hardcore Ambiguity" entitled "A few more stabs at plagiarism". The author is spittin' mad about services such as www-dot- academicintegrity -dot-com. We had found a different one during our tests, but this is just outrageous. I won't link to them either (but you can easily find the page). They write about academic integrity on the same page that they offer you their paper-writing services. Just disgusting.

Now back to work

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Coming soon: plagiarism detection software test

I have been super busy lately, as we are testing as many plagiarism detection software systems as we can get our fingers on. The final results will be announced on September 27, 2007 at 12.00 UTC+1, so if you are considering obtaining such a system, you might want to wait a few weeks.

We looked at 15 plagiarism detection systems, one collusion detection system and two code sharing detection systems. We used 20 short papers of known plagiarism degree, two files for collusion detection and two 400-line program code files specifically prepared with 14 different types of "masking" behavior.

Stay tuned for the results - in German first, I'm afraid, but we will get around to putting it in English soon, I hope!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Stealing from a Plagiarism Site

We are currently testing plagiarism detection software and were evaluating the results from one system when we discovered a strange link. Some blog at Windows Live had plagiarized one of our plagiarism test cases about the history of Döner, a Turkish fast food popular in Germany.

The site did give a source - is listed at the bottom as being a source. Of course, this is our portal, not the E-Learning unit and most certainly not the exact source. A large chunk and a smaller one are taken verbatim from our page without using those pesky "..." signs that just mean extra typing for the author, I suppose.

I wanted to send the "author" a take-down notice, as my texts may only be quoted or used as per copyleft, that is, that the derivative work also be under the same license and that a link to the license and the authors remain intact. But I have to sign up for Microsoft's "Windows Live" in order to contact the author!

I was just about to sign up in order to contact the author when I found a little link at the bottom of the page labeled "Legal". Following this I find a large page with a paragraph entitled Notices and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement. This is interesting, there is even an E-Mail address given and a procedure for issuing take-down notices.

Okay, so this is a test for Microsoft. I wrote an email, detailing the amount of the plagiarism and the problem: I have permission from the original authors of this plagiarism to use this content - my plagiarizer doesn't. I will report on whether Microsoft bothers to answer, and if they do indeed get the page taken down.

I find it very troublesome that someone just uses the text they found without bothering to understand the context in which it was written. It seems we must not only educate our students on avoiding plagiarism, but also the general public. I am happy when people write - that's what blogs are for. But I do not understand that people find it okay to just copy other people's texts - and publish it on their blogs!

This makes it clear that the schools must act and teach about the proper use of content and good research practices, something I thought was self-evident, but apparently is not.