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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Technology and Plagiarism in the University: Brief Report of a Trial in Dectecting Cheating

  • Author(s): Johnson, Diane;
  • Patton, Rob;
  • Michaels, George;
  • Bimber, Bruce;
  • Almeroth, Kevin
  • et al.

College students exploit information technology to cheat on papers and assignments, but for the most part university faculty employ few technological techniques to detect cheating. This paper reports on a trial of software for the detection of cheating in a large undergraduate survey class. The paper discusses the decision to adopt electronic means for screening student papers, the techniques used, the outcome, strategic concerns regarding deterrence versus detection of cheating, and the results of a survey of student attitudes about the experience. The paper advances the thesis that easily-adopted techniques not only close a sophistication gap associated with computerized cheating, but can place faculty in a stronger position than they have ever enjoyed historically with regard to the deterrence and detection of some classes of plagiarism.

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