Authentic Authenticity

A frequent question in academic and educational forums is, “How much help can a student get?”

The answer, not surprisingly, must be “It depends.”

In the first place, it depends on the terms of the assignment. If the instructions state that the work must be done without help, then no help is permitted.

If the instructions state that the work can or must be carried out in consultation Continue reading

Fewer cases of plagiarism

The online THE (Times Higher Education) recently carried a headline: Turnitin is turning up fewer cases of plagiarism. That’s good news.

The subtitle of Paul Rump’s article runs “Cases of serious cheating fall by 60 per cent, company says.”  Serious cheating is apparently defined as essays where more than 75% is made up of unoriginal material, and the figures as given in the article are impressive: Continue reading

Carried away

Every so often, we have a good laugh – or cry – at a newspaper report of someone who, believing their GPS rather than their own eyes, drives a high vehicle into a low bridge, or drives into a river,  or maybe drives 3000 km across Europe on what should have been a one-hour journey. No, surely not?

And then there is Turnitin. I often wonder whether Turnitin and its sister companies sometimes get carried away, Continue reading

Worth 1000 words

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. So is a good analogy.

Teddi Fishman’s horse-training analogy in her column for the March 2013 edition of Ethos, is spot-on!  The analogy  just chimes with so much of what I’ve been trying to say in this series of musings.  Ethos is the newsletter of the International Center for Academic Integrity (ICAI), and Teddi Fishman is both Director of ICAI and Executive Editor of the newsletter.  Ethos is available to ICAI members only, but Teddi has very kindly permitted me to copy the column Continue reading

How much plagiarism?

Every so often, in workshop and in forums, someone asks, “What percentage of plagiarism is allowed?”

The short answer is, of course, zero per-cent.

The question is usually asked by someone who has received an originality report from Turnitin or other online text-matching software, turnitin-report
and it has come back with passages and paragraphs brightly coloured. The highlighted sections indicate text for which the software has found matches, on the internet or within its own databases.

Highlighted text does NOT indicate plagiarism. Continue reading


An article in today’s online version of Campus Technology catches my eye: “Tackling Plagiarism” by Bridget McCrea.CampusTech-p2

The article deals with Brevard Community College’s decision to adopt Turnitin as an anti-plagiarism tool. I’m pleased to see that the College realises that it is a tool, that the reports it generates do need further checking by teachers, that matches are not necessarily indicative of plagiarism.

But I am puzzled by a statement made on screen two of the article: Continue reading