Critically evaluate the use of text matching software as an aid to developing good scholarship practice Introduction Academic dishonesty such as plagiarism has been a major factor in education that has affected students’ success and academic achievements in recent years. Plagiarism according to Park (2003) is the act of appropriating or copying another person’s work and passing them on as one’s idea without acknowledging the original source. Park (2003) noted that plagiarism is a growing problem and has been a misuse of the writings of another author, their ideas, hypothesis, theories, research findings and interpretations.
Furthermore studies by Chao, Wilhelm and Neureuther (2009) emphasised that the rising trend of plagiarism among students can be attributed to several factors such as academic literacy, language competence and the technological advancements in the world today in terms of high speed internet facility available in hostels and computer labs. These factors according to Chao, Wilhelm and Neureuther (2009) has enhanced the ability of students to plagiarise a whole assignment by obtaining papers on the internet relating to their assignments which is as easy as copying and pasting.
Park (2003) stated that students have different perceptions towards plagiarism. He noted that students view plagiarism as a minor offence which is different from cheating in exams. He further discovered that plagiarism could be unintentional (ibid). This is because some students possess a mental illusion in which they believe they have produced something from their own perspective while infact they are reproducing something which they have read from another author. The purpose of this paper is to critically evaluate the effect of text matching software as an aid to developing good scholarship practice.
This paper will begin by briefly describing what good scholarship practise is. In addition the use of text matching software for detecting good scholarship practice will be critically discussed and a conclusion will be made based on the evaluation. Good scholarship practice can be referred to as a formal study which involves academic learning and achievement. It involves acknowledging where information used to support ideas in a particular context is gotten and citing the sources (Locke and Latham, 2009). Britag and Mahmud (2009) pointed out that different strategies which nclude the use of electronic software tools such as turnitin have been derived for detecting plagiarism with the intent of allowing students’ take responsibility of their learning and also work hand in hand with their tutors in the drafting stages of their assignments. According to Britag and Mahmud (2009) manual detection of plagiarism is difficult because it is time consuming and this is the reason why some tutors are reluctant in pursuing potential cases of plagiarism. However both the manual method of plagiarism detection and the electronic text matching method should be employed (Britag and Mahmud, 2009).
Scaife (2007) argued that the electronic text matching software is not the solution to eliminating plagiarism because the software only focuses on text matching of paper under review with documents (journals, articles, e-books and conference papers) found on the internet or which has been previously submitted and this is a limitation because the only detection are focused on electronic materials without considering some non-electronic paper based documents which could still be plagiarised.
Walker (2010) stated that with the development of text matching software such as the turnitin plagiarism detection was made easier, however he emphasised that the turnitin detection software is not 100 per cent efficient, it merely identifies and matches materials present in a document uploaded to turnitin website to materials available on the internet. Walker (2010) describes the electronic text matching software as a tool only suitable for detecting word for word or direct plagiarism in electronic form and the refined ones from the paper based sources are not easily detected.
Moreover Carroll and Appleton (2001) argued that the turnitin is just an option for measuring plagiarism and that alone cannot be used as a basis for judging good scholarship practice. In addition Carroll and Appleton (2001) insist that the use of electronic software for detecting plagiarism requires human application and interpretation and that using turnitin alone as a medium for plagiarism detection is not proficient.
According to Barrett and Malcolm (2006) the electronic text matching software (turnitin) only indicates possible plagiarism without any certainty, it is left to the tutor to determine the extent to which the writer has plagiarised or included some sources in the paper without acknowledging where they were acquired. In conclusion the concept of plagiarism cannot be overemphasised. It has become a factor that has affected good academic scholarship practice and has reated an avenue for educators to develop methods for detecting and dealing with plagiarism. The development of the electronic detection software such as the turnitin has enhanced the detection of plagiarism however it cannot be relied upon completely because it is not effective. In addition it is important to understand that the best way to detect plagiarism is to use both the manual method which involves educators and the use of electronic text matching software such as turnitin.
Students could also be assisted in understanding the criteria for academic writing such as the code of conducts which requires them to acknowledge any source from where data is derived when writing academically. References Barrett, R. & Malcolm, J. (2006) ‘Embedding plagiarism education in the assessment process’, International Journal for Educational Integrity, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 38-45. Bretag, T. and Mahmud, S. (2009) ‘A model for determining student plagiarism: Electronic detection and academic judgement. , Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 50-60. Chao, C. , Wilhelm, W. J. , Neureuther, B. D. (2009. ) ‘A Study of Electronic Detection and Pedagogical Approaches for Reducing Plagiarism’, The Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 31-42. Carroll, J. and Appleton, J. (2001), Plagiarism: A good practice guide, Oxford: Oxford Brookes University. Locke, E. A, Latham, G. P (2009) ‘Has Goal Setting Gone Wild, or Have Its Attackers Abandoned Good Scholarship? ‘, The Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 7-23. Park, C. (2003) ‘In Other (People’s) Words: plagiarism by university students—literature and lessons’, Assessment ;amp; Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 28, No. 5, pp. 472-488. Scaife, B (2007) IT Consultancy Plagiarism Detection Software Report for JISC Advisory Service. [Online]. Retrieved from:www. plagiarismadvice. org/documents/resources/PDReview-Reportv1_5. pdf [Accessed 24th October 2012]. Walker, J. (2010) ‘Measuring plagiarism: researching what students do, not what they say they do’, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 41-59.