Is it cheating – or learning the craft of writing? Using Turnitin to help students avoid plagiarism
Plagiarism is a growing problem for universities, many of which are turning to software detection for help in detecting and dealing with it. This paper explores issues around plagiarism and reports on a study of the use of Turnitin in a new university. The purpose of the study was to inform the senior management team about the plagiarism policy and the use of Turnitin. The study found that staff and students largely understood the university’s policy and Turnitin’s place within it, and were very supportive of the use of Turnitin in originality checking. Students who had not used Turnitin were generally keen to do so. The recommendation to the senior management team, which was implemented, was that the use of Turnitin for originality checking should be made compulsory where possible – at the time of the study the use of Turnitin was at the discretion of programme directors. A further aim of the study was to contribute to the sector’s body of knowledge. Prevention of plagiarism through education is a theme identified by Badge and Scott (2009) who conclude an area lacking in research is “investigation of the impact of these tools on staff teaching practices”. Although a number of recent studies have considered educational use of Turnitin they focus on individual programmes or subject areas rather than institutions as a whole and the relationship with policy.
Research in Learning Technology