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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New software to help fight plagiarism

New software to help fight plagiarism

Odds are, a student has plagiarized, or will plagiarize, at some point in their college career. A 1991 study by Rutgers University found that 66 percent of students from 31 US universities admit to it. While the Internet makes it easier than before to plagiarize, it also increases the possibilities for new tools to prevent it.

The consequences for plagiarism vary widely between schools and professors, and they can be anything from having to rewrite a paper, to expulsion. It is true that professors cannot catch every single student that cheats on a paper, but it is about to get much easier for them to find out who is being dishonest.

Starting this fall, UMass Boston professors will have access to new software called SafeAssign. SafeAssign makes it possible for professors to check a student’s paper, submitted through the Blackboard system, against several databases.

If a professor runs the program on an assignment, a full report will be sent to the professor with details on which parts may be copied, and which sources they may have come from. The program is already in use in many universities, including UMass Amherst.

UMass Boston will pilot SafeAssign this fall semester, Education Technology Director Apurva Mehta said, to “see how it works so that the staff can support this service.”

A similar product, TurnItIn, was piloted last fall “and the feedback we received from faculty was that they would like to pursue this solution,” Mehta said. When a price quote was obtained from TurnItIn, however, it was decided that the program was too expensive. SafeAssign comes free with the Blackboard Learning System.

It may not be surprising that professors are in favor of a tool that will help them catch cheating students. Equally expected is the reaction of a student.

“There are only so many ways to rephrase someone’s work,” David Ziegler, a UMass Boston Pre-Med student, said. “It’s just going to cause more problems for students who aren’t knowingly plagiarizing.”

Like it or not, SafeAssign is on its way. If the pilot goes well, the program will be in use on a more permanent level. Programs like this may prompt students to do what educators have been pushing them to do since middle school-cite their sources.

SafeAssign checks all submitted papersagainst the following databases:? Internet – comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the Internet

? ProQuest ABI/Inform database with more than 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from ’90s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access)

? Institutional document archives containing all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institution

? Global Reference Database containing papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.

Source: www.safeassign.com