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Turnitin to give Ohio State professors, students a plagiarism check

Ohio State students may soon notice something new after submitting their papers through Carmen.

As a result of OSU purchasing a three-year license for a program called Turnitin, there will be a new icon next to Carmen dropbox folders where students will be able to view their “OriginalityCheck” report – the percentage of the paper that the program has found to have possibly been plagiarized.

Turnitin compares written compositions against a variety of sources to check for plagiarism and offers grading and peer review features. The program license costs about $105,000 annually, paid for out of the Office of Distance Education and eLearning budget, and the integration with Carmen was completed Aug. 11, Office of the Chief Information Officer Communication Director Katharine Keune said in an email.

Turnitin’s OriginalityCheck feature has been used across campus by various departments, including the Department of Economics, Department of Political Science and Fisher College of Business, for a few years, but this year, things will be different. Prior to the new purchase, each department contracted separately with Turnitin and had different applications of the service.

The OriginalityCheck Report details what percentage of the compared text matches material on the Internet without making judgments about whether or not the text is cited correctly. Instructors will be able to use Turnitin via Carmen, but each instructor will have the choice of whether or not to have students use the program.

Without the new consolidated contract between OSU and Turnitin, OSU would have paid “almost twice as much without covering all of the university departments,” Keune said, adding that the decision was not entirely about cost.

“As important as cost savings are, what is even more important to us is that the use of Turnitin is transparent and we are able to provide university-wide education on the best practices for using it,” Keune said in an email.

Some OSU students think the program is a good idea but won’t affect them much personally.

“If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear,” said David Kucia, a first-year in marketing. “I wouldn’t plagiarize to begin with so it wouldn’t really change (my writing).”

Others said their past experiences with similar programs haven’t been entirely positive.

“I don’t think it really spoke truly all the time to be honest,” said Kelsey Shearer, a first-year in business.

She said Turnitin will make her more cautious while writing though.

“I would just try to be a lot more careful than if I knew I didn’t have it,” Shearer said.

ODEE will be hosting two Turnitin workshops the week of Aug. 26 to help with the implementation of the new programs and to help educators understand how Turnitin can be used as an effective teaching tool to help students learn how to properly cite sources, quotes and resources.

Keune said Turnitin isn’t meant to be a plagiarism detection tool.

“OriginalityCheck simply allows users to compare a composition to a large collection of Internet resources, published papers, and previous student submission,” Keune said.

Mike Hofherr, the associate vice president for ODEE, said in a statement, sent to The Lantern by Keune, instructors should use the program to further students’ learning.

“I hope that instructors take advantage of our workshops to discover some of the best practices for using Turnitin as a way to support our students in their quest to become great writers, researchers, and lifelong learners,” Hofherr said.

The OriginalityCheck citations will be checked over by the instructors and students together to decide whether they need revisions for better citation or indicate that plagiarism has occurred after the paper has been submitted, Keune said.

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