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


This article reports the results of a trial of automated detection of term-paper plagiarism in a large, introductory undergraduate class. The trial was premised on the observation that college students exploit information technology extensively to cheat on papers and assignments, but for the most part university faculty have employed few technological techniques to detect cheating. Topics covered include the decision to adopt electronic means for screening student papers, strategic concerns regarding deterrence versus detection of cheating, the technology employed to detect plagiarism, student outcomes, and the results of a survey of student attitudes about the experience. The article 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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