Plaigarism Checker Recommendations

<p>Hello all,</p>

<p>My 14 year old has a science teacher who is requiring the students to submit the research paper portion of their science projects to Turnitin.com. My daughter has never used this service and is intimidated by it. She tends to read, read, read and then writes her papers on the fly with very little use of note cards. She then goes back and inserts her citations and footnotes. I am concerned her wording (which tends to be technical anyway) may be too similar to her sources. I have read about plagiarism checkers which can help the student identify where their wording may be flagged. The teacher indicates she allows 5% plagiarism for definitions and the like. What is everyone's opinion about these checkers? Can they be of value? My daughter does not plagiarize and assures me she does paraphrase but with technical jargon, how many ways can one actually paraphrase? This is new territory for us so I would greatly value your input/experiences.</p>

<p>I don't know the exact details of turnitin.com but my kids have been using it for years. Their teachers required it for every paper in high school and they never had any problems with their papers.</p>

<p>You're right to be concerned about plagiarism, especially the way turnitin handles suspected cases. The company behind turnitin has now launched write check, which you can access at: <a href="https://www.writecheck.com/static/home.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;https://www.writecheck.com/static/home.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>This service is essentially the inverse of TurnItIn, providing students insight into portions of their papers that are less original, but the service is not cheap (IMHO). I'd love to hear what your take (and your daughter's) is on the service-- I work for an application essay company, and haven't used these services for my coursework directly.</p>

<p>My kids are required to use this as well. I think she should go see her teacher to discuss and/or possibly visit her English teacher for some guidance.</p>

<p>Thank you for posting that link - had not heard about this but I could see this being helpful to some students.</p>

<p>I'm 90% sure that the turnitin website has it set up so when you input your essay, you can see the plagiarism markings before you choose to submit it to the teacher.</p>

<p>Can anyone verify that? There is a service called Viper as well. Has anyone used this?</p>

<p>I use this website to check all my essays before submitting them to turnitin:
The</a> Plagiarism Checker</p>

<p>I think these plagiarism checkers are a good idea in principle, but since I have never used one I would like to ask: Is it easy to "fool" them by copying a paper and changing a few words/ rearranging a few sentences?</p>

<p>@NJres,
My teachers have explained turnitin in my classes. From what I understand, turnitin compares the papers to other papers submitted to turnitin (and probably some published ones). My teachers have said that turnitin picks up on similarities between words, phrases etc and that it is likely that most students' papers are similar to other papers (i think about 50 or 60%) and that they will only check the paper for issues if it is significantly lower or greater than that.</p>

<p>I guess that is possible; however, I definitely do not recommend doing that.</p>

<p>Also, just rearranging some sentences and changing some words probably would not be enough to "fool" a plagiarism checker.</p>

<p>EDIT: If one did that, one would have to keep in mind that other students may have done the same and submitted to turnitin. One of my teachers said that a student had an essay almost identical to one by a student in California and another in like Texas. She said that it seemed that the students had all copied and rearranged the same essay.</p>

<p>I use Turnitin for my college students. All it does is provide an originality report based on a percentage of the text that is copied from somewhere else on the Internet or among the papers from other institutions submitted to Turnitin. The teacher still has to read the paper and evaluate the student's use of sources. Turnitin also has instructor-activated filters for works cited lists, quoted blocks of text etc. </p>

<p>A writer who is properly attributing sources and using correct citation procedures will have no problem with Turnitin. It does not eliminate the element of teacher judgment.</p>

<p>Turnitin has been murder on fraternity cheat files. Those old saved papers that have been recycled by other students are now in the Turnitin database.</p>

<p>My kids had to turn all papers in this way 6th grade on. It checks against all papers from school on that topic and likely Sparknotes etc. THey also have to turn in a hard copy to the teacher the following morning. One benefit of turnitin is that teachers usually give a late evening due date/time so kids who have afterschool activities etc have more freedom to plan around their own schedules. Kids like it and are very comfortable with the process. In high school they also turn in physics and chemistry problem sets through web assign.</p>

<p>So from what I understand, Turnitin also has a paid service for students to use called writecheck which is a pay as you use service which utilizes the turnitin search engine to essentially do the same checking the turnitin site would use for the teachers. I also understand that it is up to the teacher as to whether the papers being submitted will actually show the students where they have problems and the student may correct those problems and re-submit the paper. The student would have to actually ask the teacher how the specific teacher has it set up. I found a free trial site at plagscan and my daughter will try scanning her paper there first to see if anything lights up.</p>

<p>I think it is great that your daughter's teaching is using this with 14- year olds. I teach at a university and I have students who have never learned how to research information and then use their own words to synthesize and report on their research. They are under the impression that copying and pasting from any source anyway they want is acceptable. College is rather late in the game to learn that is not the way to write. Turnitin results can be seen by students after the submission and through use of various kinds of highlighting, Turnitin helps students identify problems with originality. If your daughter's teacher is trying to enhance learning (as opposed to creating "gotcha" moments), she is doing your daughter a great favor. 14 is the perfect age for young people to start developing the writing and research skills they will need in college. Using Turnitin now will launch your daughter early and well.</p>

<p>I use Turnitin on my student's papers. It shows exactly where there is overlap with existing known sources, color coded, and provides a percentage. Every paper has some overlap, simply because we share common but uninteresting phrasing in a lot of documents (it is easy to imagine 5 word strings that appear all over the place). </p>

<p>I'm a bit confused. Why is she intimidated? She's 14! Now I can see adults being intimated by technology :). But t's not at all clear why your daughter would have the exact same wording for more than a few words. Nor what you mean by 'technical jargon. Singular words and labels are not identified. A whole sentence of technical jargon means your daughter doesn't really understand what she's writing because she can't paraphrase. I've also never heard of, nor understand, what it would mean to say "5% plagarism" is okay. How does one calculate this? What what a ridiculous way to teach students how to properly cite and avoid plagarism. As an aside, I haven't seen a paper in Turnitin yet that doesn't have at least "5%" overlap as they are also capturing things like, "and therefore one can assume".</p>

<p>Well, my daughter submitted her paper yesterday and checked this morning on the Turnitin site. It showed a 15% plagiarism rate. When we looked at the supposed matches, they were mainly technical phrases or definitions which are essentially universal. You simply cannot re-word or paraphrase a specific description of them without losing the correct meaning. She properly cited all of these as well and the matches did show up in her footnotes. She was describing how certain chemicals pass through a membrane of a fuel cell. Most of the matches were to papers submitted by other students in the turnitin database some of which utilized the same sources and some did not. Even more perplexing was the fact that my daughter did not use wikipedia but some of the articles she did use and properly cite were matched to wikipedia. When we went to the wikipedia web site, it clearly showed the information from the same original article my daughter used. I assume a teacher will need to carefully inspect these alleged matches and truly determine if plagiarism exists. I can understand how these tools are helpful but the results should really be scrutinized individually by the teachers.</p>

<p>^ Yes that is exactly how it works. A teacher can't use Turnit in and not make their own judgement. The number alone is meaningless. And 15% is low, maybe impossible to be lower. That is why it seems silly and meaningless for a teacher to make up something like "5%" (whatever the heck that means).</p>

<p>What do you mean the articles she used were matched to Wikipedia and other students' submissions? Why would they not be matched to the original sources she used? Even if wiki writers plagarized the original articles, your daughter's document should be also matching the original source. Turnit in doesn't just rely on internet stuff being matched, but also published articles.</p>

<p>Perhaps I did not explain clearly. The teacher set the level at 5%, whatever that means. I will give you an example. My D was describing the 4 different types of fuel cells and the elements they are made up of. She listed them in a series like Hydrogen, phosphoric acid...Turnitin highlighted that series of 8 words and attributed it to "student papers" from various schools. She also was describing different soil amendments and specifically was referring to cow manure. She cited her source correctly from an article she read on the Colorado State University extension web site. Turnitin highlighted about 7 words ( not all in one phrase by the way) and attributed it to a wikipedia article. When my daughter checked the Wiki article, she found it had been cited from the same web page she used at Colorado State University. None of the "incidences" were more than 3% each and most were 1% but her rating was 15%. Maybe we just don't understand how this works.</p>

<p>@saismom: My first teacher who used turnitin.com set the limit at around 5%, too. I received about 3%, actually... but it seems the majority of the rest of the class went over 5% and into the 'high ranges' of 15%-30%. Needless to say, with so much freaking out going on, my teacher decided to check each case above 25% individually as he realized anything above that was - as you said - generally technical/common phrases.</p>

<p>Especially since this was a government class, it's a little hard not to say someone else didn't mention that "Ronald Reagan was a popular Republican candidate" or something. </p>

<p>In any case, there was never a real case w/ plagiarism even though some people went high up, it was generally a match of really common phrases. I have also noticed that anything above 5% for me is generally common and short phrases like "A decade ago, they were very..." etc., and even as you mentioned, a series of words.</p>

<p>Perhaps your D's teacher will realize that too.</p>

<p>If your daughter is using "technical jargon" in her paper she should cite that anyway as it is not an original thought so she shouldn't have a problem with turnitin. How does she write a research paper on the fly? That sounds strange to me as a research paper is normally citation after citation. Let's face it, none of it is an original thought except maybe the intro and conclusion. My kids have used it for years and many kids in their class have been busted for plagiarism, mostly because they lift something from an original work without proper citation. When in doubt, cite, and you should be fine. My kids have always been taught that you must cite a paraphrase also, not just a direct quote so your daughter should learn how to properly write a paper before she gets to high school and college.</p>