Is it cheating – or learning the craft of writing? Using Turnitin to help students avoid plagiarism

  • Lynne Graham-Matheson Canterbury Christ Church University North Holmes Road Canterbury Kent CT1 1QU
  • Simon Starr Canterbury Christ Church University
Keywords: higher education, plagiarism, assessment, Turnitin

Abstract

Plagiarism is a growing problem for universities, many of which are turning to software detection for help in detecting and dealing with it. This paper explores issues around plagiarism and reports on a study of the use of Turnitin in a new university. The purpose of the study was to inform the senior management team about the plagiarism policy and the use of Turnitin. The study found that staff and students largely understood the university’s policy and Turnitin’s place within it, and were very supportive of the use of Turnitin in originality checking. Students who had not used Turnitin were generally keen to do so. The recommendation to the senior management team, which was implemented, was that the use of Turnitin for originality checking should be made compulsory where possible – at the time of the study the use of Turnitin was at the discretion of programme directors. A further aim of the study was to contribute to the sector’s body of knowledge. Prevention of plagiarism through education is a theme identified by Badge and Scott (2009) who conclude an area lacking in research is “investigation of the impact of these tools on staff teaching practices”. Although a number of recent studies have considered educational use of Turnitin they focus on individual programmes or subject areas rather than institutions as a whole and the relationship with policy.

Keywords: higher education; plagiarism; assessment; Turnitin

(Published: 29 April 2013)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2013, 21: 17218 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.17218

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Author Biographies

Lynne Graham-Matheson, Canterbury Christ Church University North Holmes Road Canterbury Kent CT1 1QU

Principal Research Fellow

Faculty of Education

Simon Starr, Canterbury Christ Church University

Faculty Learning Technologist

Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit

Published
2013-04-29
How to Cite
Graham-Matheson, L., & Starr, S. (2013). Is it cheating – or learning the craft of writing? Using Turnitin to help students avoid plagiarism. Research in Learning Technology, 21. https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.17218
Section
Original Research Articles