turnitin essay checker

turnitin essay checker

The Impact and Efficacy of Turnitin as an Essay Checker in Academic Settings

1. Introduction to Turnitin and its Role in Academic Integrity

Turnitin is known by many as an education technology company that provides plagiarism detection, grammar check, and online grading system services. As a novelty tool that teachers and professors can use to deter plagiarism, Turnitin, as a company, has experienced a near-monopoly standing in the higher education sector – with only a handful of significant competitors in the space. It proudly proclaims that their new text-matching software and its accuracy are a level ahead when comparing features to ‘older and duplicate checking software’ and that it is used by millions of students across the world. Even in the face of new entrants in the online education space, Turnitin’s usage statistics remain formidable, and many schools and academic institutions use this software as their first-line of defense when met with student essays.

2. The Technology Behind Turnitin: How Does it Work?

Kinematic fingerprints of user papers are accompanied by information obtained from various linguistic analyses and machine learning data from other sources. Indexing the completed fingerprint data is done with the help of a hash algorithm and parsers.

At the most basic level, the depository table comprises of four columns – the paper ID, the user submission (an encrypted version of the document text), the length of the text (in words), and the creation date. Researchers use a unique set of patented algorithms to generate signatures for all indexed documents. These signatures make it easy to efficiently calculate partial compares as well as those against the actual documents in order to find similarity correlation.

The search of the electronic depository maintained and updated by the software for the term papers it processes is executed sequentially via standard SQL. There are separate tables in Turnitin’s system for each portion of the detection metadata, such as previous essay processing results, previous user account transactions with the system, and the actual depository of submissions.

Each of the source sites examined by the web crawler has its own frequency and context metadata stored for the indexed pages. This metadata is used by different detection engines to filter out search results, identify indices with sources matching the submitted papers, and store additional citation information specific to each located document.

Additional functions of the application are checking for possible text plagiarism, frequency of submission of individual students, and identifying students whose essays are similar or identical to one another. Each of these functions is performed by a separate detection engine.

First of all, the system is not made up of a single detection engine. The primary function of the application is to check for instances of text similarity. It scans the web, some databases, and its own depository of student submissions to look for comparable sentences and/or paragraphs. This is by no means a comprehensive search, covering a fraction of the web, and monitoring only the portions of text that have been submitted to the system in previous essays.

3. Benefits and Limitations of Turnitin in Detecting Plagiarism

Second, the results generated by Turnitin can be utilized to educate the culprit authors about their wrongdoings, the repercussions of them, and other ethical issues associated with plagiarism from the same web database. Many a time, students are not aware of the ethics dealing with plagiarism or they have a very superficial understanding of them. Professors could use these results to discipline their students. If Turnitin simply highlights the portions of the essay’s content, fresh in their original format, alongside with the formatted bibliographic citations, there is no overt attempt to commit plagiarism. Other than the verbatim text, there is nothing in the source to which the writing in the submitted essay resembles; hence, the student’s writing is highly associated with their own ideas and knowledge. What does this surname mean exactly from the instructor’s reading of the essay? What action should he/she take if the direct copying cannot be visualized? These three issues were dealt with in depth to ascertain if the instructor’s dilemma about Turnitin’s accuracy was justified or just a myth.

This study set out to identify whether a plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin can be an efficacious tool for English language instructors to hold their students accountable to their writing claims and to educate them about the ethics of plagiarism in academia. Dr. Robert Harrington at the Northern Illinois University Writing Center pointed out that Turnitin serves as a control measure to deter plagiarism, but more importantly, it can be utilized as extra pedagogic supervision and feedback for students’ writing practices enabling teachers to constantly monitor their students’ writing progress. Indeed, Turnitin has numerous benefits. First, Turnitin can easily detect the portions of an essay that were directly copied alongside with the formatted source citations verifying the quoted sentences. Neither professors nor lecturers could make this distinction as effectively without Turnitin, and would have to look up the references one by one before they decide if and to what extent the student’s work is plagiarized, which can be very time-consuming.

4. Ethical and Pedagogical Considerations in Using Turnitin

Pedagogical Concerns: Our third set of concerns are ethical but more specifically pedagogical. The decision to use or not use Turnitin is essentially a judgment as to what’s the best pedagogical practice. Somehow, educators have to teach themselves and students to value originality more than just as a change in method of evaluation. It is a matter of integrity; original academic work is an expression of identity, not a test that has to be passed. The faculty member who provides feedback on drafts works with individual students to achieve quality original research is part of a pedagogy. This service is lost when a student simply copies from a paper that can be downloaded from the internet; at the very least, the student has eliminated the dialogue aspect of the interaction that starts to make a piece of information knowledge. Use of a plagiarism checker sidesteps this discussion entirely.

Ethical Concerns: As institutional subscribers of Turnitin, contract with the service, a student’s essay may have been submitted by a faculty member in another school with a different contract. Thus, the student submits it without realizing the plagiarism checking implications. And the faculty member who set up the assignment in Turnitin may never have met or taught that student. Indeed, Turnitin has enabled students to plagiarize from one another, which is a more serious and deceptive form of sharism. The whole concept of being successful by using the original author’s work as a model for one’s own is undermined. Turnitin violates this relationship by reading and comparing the content of a student’s paper with work that may not have been written for a teacher who has the same affiliation. This is the ethical problem.

5. Future Developments and Innovations in Turnitin Technology

There are also sound ethical arguments that support Turnitin. It can be claimed that just as the assessed work of students is the result of their study at university, so the degree awarded to them on the successful completion of that study is awarded because of the culmination of their academic record. If not their own work, then the degree earned is earned under false pretenses. Furthermore, employment in the degree context is earned in the belief by the future employer of the individual’s competent knowledge and skills. If the degree is earned by fraudulent means, then any employment is procured under false pretenses. In these generic arguments, there are strong pointers back to requiring an ethical position that asserts strongly that an appropriate monitoring and control mechanism helps engender academic honesty. With this perspective, the checking process for essays is no different in conceptually checking and assuring the integrity in all student works, all the time.

While Turnitin and other related online blocking technologies are already well developed and in use, this does not mean that they will not continue to develop new and better means of detecting and reporting upon inappropriate copying of electronic text. The strongest software to protect and ensure the academic honesty of our students is a necessary and essential part of any teacher’s academic life. It will soon become as important an adjunct to that life as are the powerful courseware programs that assist in the management of the teaching process. Thus, ongoing support for the strong development of technologies such as Turnitin and for the efforts of the staff who create and manage those technologies is an essential part of the future of tertiary education.

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