How Should Schools Deal with Internet Plagiarism?
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A high school teacher failed 28 students for plagiarizing, or copying, material from the Internet. When parents complained, the school board passed the students, and the teacher resigned. Word processing software and the Internet make plagiarism easier than ever. Students can use term paper Web sites, such as CheatHouse.com or Research Papers Online, to copy complete papers on a variety of topics. According to one survey, half of those who responded said that cheating does not or may not matter in the long run, and 60 percent had plagiarized in the past. Students who plagiarize blame peer pressure, classroom competition, the “busy work” nature of some assignments, and the permissive attitude that pervades the Internet. Teachers have several tools to catch plagiarists, including a variety of Internet based services, such as Turnitin, that compare suspected papers to papers found on the Internet and produce an originality report highlighting text that may have been copied. Some instructors, however, are reluctant to investigate the integrity of a student’s work and possibly ruin an academic career.
How should educators deal with plagiarism? Should a school’s response to plagiarism depend on such factors as the material copied, the assignment for which it was copied, or the reason it was copied? Why or why not? How would you feel if a paper you wrote was used by a service such as Turnitin to be used as a benchmark against other student’s papers? Why? Should schools nationwide be required to use a service such as Turnitin in an attempt to stop cheating? Why or why not?
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