Issues of academic plagiarism in educational institutions are often played out in the public arena. Media reports that ‘scandals’ occur in universities where plagiarism has gone undetected, or unpunished can undermine public faith in the academic integrity of higher education. Antiplagiarism software has been successfully marketed to universities as a means through which to detect and deter plagiarism. One commercially available product, Turnitin, has been embraced and implemented in many educational settings around the globe. Although Turnitin has been heralded as an effective measure to combat plagiarism, little empirical research has been undertaken to examine user perceptions of its effectiveness. This paper details a site-specific case study which explores the perspectives of seven teachers across five faculties at South-Coast University¹ about the effectiveness and usability of Turnitin. The findings indicate that Turnitin assists in detecting passages where text matches other sources. However, the software does not indicate whether plagiarism has occurred or not. That remains the decision of the teacher. Additionally, such software should not be considered a panacea for plagiarism. Students still require explicit teaching of the concept of textual attribution, often with subject-specific examples to understand acknowledgement conventions within academia.
Recommended CitationSutherland-Smith, W. and Carr, R., Turnitin.com: Teachers’ Perspectives of Anti-Plagiarism Software in Raising Issues of Educational Integrity, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 2(3), 2005.