Exorcising ghost writers

Turnitin tech to catch contract cheating

Plagiarism-checker Turnitin has launched new software to combat contract cheating, where students pay a third-party to write assignments/complete assessment. The new product, Authorship Investigate started with a collaboration between the company and Australian academics, including academic integrity expert, Tracey Bretag (UniSA).

According to Turnitin, detecting contract cheating in assignments is beyond plagiarism programmes – the work is original, just not by the student who signs it. Authorship I compares students’ previous work, creates data on assignments and compares all that against new work using, “document metadata, forensic linguistic analysis, and natural language processing. “

It’s good says Associate Professor Bretag, who tells CMM that in a trial of a beta version, Authorship Investigate, “was potentially very useful.”

Authorship Investigate definitely has the potential to assist staff to identify and substantiate contract cheating,” she says.

But ASPRO Bretag adds it is not a complete solution.

“The product by itself will not be useful unless universities are prepared to devote serious resources to training and professional development of teaching staff. … That means genuine workload and TIME to engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning, the development of innovative curriculum and assessment, and the means to know students (for example, smaller classes, face to face time), as well as training in new technologies.”


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