Internet cheating, harder to catch!

BBC News reports on how students are using new ways to cheat which are more difficult to detect:

Universities warn that students who cheat by commissioning essays from other students are proving harder to catch than other types of plagiarism.

Students are using websites to outsource their essays – inviting other students to put forward their most competitive bids for the work.

What this means is that this work is original and new and can not be easily identified by staff or specialist plagarism software such as Turnitin.

Robert Clarke, a lecturer at Birmingham City University, has identified 4,000 sales on a small number of websites.

Unlike other copied work, he says it is hard for plagiarism software to detect.

“The difficulty is that it is original work – it’s just not the original work of the student handing in the assignment,” says Mr Clarke, principal lecturer in the Department of Computing.

There are no easy solutions to this, though we may need to start re-thinking how we assess students, if traditional models of assessment can be easily circumvented using these auction sites.

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One Response to Internet cheating, harder to catch!

  1. davefoord says:

    I think TurnItIn still has a place, as although these essays are being ‘individually’ written, the reality is that people will re-use chunks of text, as this is the only way that you can realistic make a profit from this, and TurnItIn will detect chunks that match. It may not match the students work to the original creator, but even if it matches a students work to another student who has bought an assignment from the same person, you know the work isn’t original and plagiarism has occurred.

    I do however agree that thinking about the design of the assessment is important, and it is possible to design plagiarism out that way.

    If anyone doesn’t think that the buying and selling of essays exists, go onto eBay and type in ‘essay’ – and prepare to be horrified!

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