Turnitin: Arming both sides in the Plagiarism War

The internet has made plagiarism much easier and by most accounts plagiarism is increasing rapidly. As a result, over a million instructors now use services like Turnitin, a plagiarism detector that compares submitted manuscripts against a large database of material, including previously submitted manuscripts.  What is less well appreciated is that Turnitin also sells its services to students. In fact, students whose professors use Turnitin are encouraged to pre-submit their work to Writecheck which will analyze and “verify” for the students that their paper has “properly quoted, summarized or paraphrased” previous work and it will also relieve students from “worrying that their paper will be recycled without their knowledge.” Uh huh.

In other words, WriteCheck will tell students if their essays will pass Turnitin! David Harrington summarizes nicely:

Turnitin is playing both sides of the fence, helping instructors identify plagiarists while helping plagiarists avoid detection.  It is akin to selling security systems to stores while allowing shoplifters to test whether putting tagged goods into bags lined with aluminum thwart the detectors.


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