New plagiarism detection tool to help universities clamp down on ‘one in seven’ graduates who may have cheated on essays.
Turnitin, the essay submission software integrated into QMplus, has recently announced new features that will help universities identify students who are purchasing essays from so-called, ‘essay mills.’
The new tools will be able to spot subtle differences between a student’s own work and essays written by hired essay writers.
The “forensic linguistic” algorithm will analyse previously submitted work for vocabulary, grammar and readability, then flag up anything that looks suspicious. It will then be down to university staff to decide whether they want to investigate further.
The feature is currently being tested and is due for release in early 2019.
Development of the new functionality came after a Turnitin survey revealed 32% of college and university teaching staff in North America suspected a student of submitting work that was not their own. Two out of three teachers said they may not act on those suspicions due to “insufficient evidence”.
A study released by Swansea University in August estimated that up to one in seven graduates may have cheated on essays.
It is reckoned there are over 100 essay mill websites currently in operation who offer ghostwriting services to students. Prices range from a couple of hundred pounds to over £6,750 for a PhD dissertation.
At the moment, the websites are legal in the UK however a parliamentary petition aiming to ban them has recently gathered over 3,000 signatures.
Image – Nic McPhee / Flickr