Websites detect plagiarism

Plagiarism, considered one of the worst evils of academia, has both proliferated and found its demise in technology. Students and professors can access resources to catch and commit plagiarized papers online.

Sites such as www.plagiarism.org claim they can identify a plagiarized paper using a logarithmic detection method which compares the text of a paper to other papers in their extensive database.

"If you are a professor who is concerned about the originality of
your students’ work, our automated online plagiarism detection service will aid you in maintaining the level of quality you expect from your students," reads the website. "If you are an author or student who wants to protect your work from potential plagiarists, make sure you can."

Professors simply need to upload a suspicious paper and submit it to the site. Within a couple of days, the company will have a complete report identifying the degree of originality and which source (or sources) it was copied from. This is not the first site of this kind; www.plagiarism.com, IntegriGuard www.integriguard.com and the Essay Verification Engine www.canexus.com/eve all specialize in plagiarism detection.

A simple search on the Internet for "helpful databases" turns up hundreds of links; the most popular includes The Evil House of cheat, www.cheathouse.com, which features essays from around the world at secondary and post-secondary levels and in well-organized categories.

"The majority of professors are well aware of the property for sale on the Internet," says University of Calgary Students’ Union Vice-president Academic Heather Clitheroe. "If you can find it, your professor can too… It’s better to ask for an extension than risking your university career."

Although cases of plagiarism have occurred at the U of C, the detection sites are not popular among the faculties, and most professors are not aware they even exist.

"It’s the first time I’ve heard about it," says Dr. Ron Keith, head of the Political Science Department. The detection sites do little more than what professors must do themselves if they suspect plagiarism.

"The professor must go through the paper, identify what they think is too sophisticated for the student’s level or strangely worded, find the sources they suspect it came from and Xerox it," says Keith. "If you feel something is wrong, it’s not good enough."

Neither university representatives or the SU know exactly how many cases of plagiarism occur per year or by faculty, but both agree it is infrequent.

"I don’t think there is an attitude of deceit at the university," says Clitheroe. "We know what’s going on. The bulk of students wouldn’t want to take the risk of find that it’s worth it. If you paid that amount of money for the course, you might as well make sure it was well spent."

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