Turnitin: Hypocrisy of Its Own

Over the centuries, teachers and professors all have had a problem with academic dishonesty.
The advancement in technology has made plagiarizing so much easier, and because of this, many professors have resorted to using software programs which detects any sort of plagiarism. One popular program many professors are enforcing their students to use is Turnitin. com. When a paper is submitted into Turnitin, the program compares it to previous submitted essays saved in its database and the content available on the internet.However, in recent years, there has been much controversy between the ethics of Turnitin and student’s rights. According to Merriam-Webster, plagiarizing is defined as, “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own, without crediting the source” (1). Whenever a thought comes to mind, it is highly unlikely the first time the person has encountered this “newfound” idea.
Books, classes, and conversations with others integrate and become an essential part of the thought process and the fine line between plagiarism and thought becomes slightly unclear.Every class a student takes focus on the concept of when using another’s work, you must always give credit to the owner; otherwise, you have committed plagiarism. The focus on crediting becomes stricter as students take higher level classes as they prepare for and enter the real world.

Although students know that cheating has heavy consequences—receiving an F in the course, or worse, expulsion from school—some may take the risk if they believe that the benefit of receiving a higher grade may outweigh the potential consequences.Plagiarism had been limited by availability of information in newspapers, books, or libraries in the past. Today, with the advancement in technology, students now have access to the internet which contains a wealth of limitless information, making plagiarism ever so easy, one-click-away. Because of this, many professors have felt the need to be proactive and fight back with technology in order to prevent plagiarism.
One popular plagiarizing detection program many schools and universities are using is Turnitin. com.As soon as a student submits an electronic copy of their work, the website compares it with resources found online and files from its extensive database and produces an originality report. Teachers believe that anti-plagiarizing software programs such as Turnitin is a way to deter and, possibly, catch students if they plagiarized Conversely, Turnitin is a major contradiction itself. In Bill Walsh’s article, “Expect, but Respect, Original Work by Students,” he points out the hypocrisy of Turnitin lies in what it is presumably trying to prevent and teach.He states that Turnitin, “is actually infringing on the students’ intellectual property, making money from it, and violating the very copyright laws Turnitin is supposed to be protecting” (Walsh 568). Every time a paper is submitted into Turnitin, the student unknowingly fuels its database and helps the website run more efficiently.
In order to make a database, Turnitin has to save a copy of the student’s intellectual work; if the student has not given authorization, then Turnitin, hypocritically, is potentially violating copyright infringement laws.Without the extensive database of submitted papers, Turnitin will be merely just a simple search engine such as Google. Every single paper that is submitted to the site gets added to the database increases the value of their product and what they have to offer. The website asserts complete ownership and access to every paper and assignment that is submitted in to their site; this allows the company to generate a revenue of “tens of millions of dollars annually” (Walsh 568) without giving the authors any compensation or credit.Without giving any credit or compensation to the owners of that intellectual property, Turnitin has contradicted its business model and has become its own hypocrite. Besides academic learning, education also teaches students about the value of academic integrity. Donald L.
McCabe explains in his essay that, “integrity cannot be divided… college teaches values to students by the standards they set for themselves”( McCabe 575). Since childhood, students are instilled with the negative connotation associated with cheating.They learn that it is unfair to other students around and there are heavy consequences which can include failing the course, or worse, expulsion from the school. Students also learn that when they cheat, they often they not only end up cheating themselves out of a learning experience, but they also lose their sense of academic integrity as well as their professor’s trust. However, when professors enforce their students to use Turnitin, a program that is clearly is its own hypocrite, they devalue academic integrity.When the education system place so much emphasis on the importance of academic honesty and then enforces students to use Turnitin, a business built on a foundation of the usage of unauthorized work of students, they show students that they support a business which goes against the very standards in which they value. The author suggests that, “its time to abandon [their] almost exclusive reliance on deterrence and punishment and to look at the issue of academic dishonesty as an educational opportunity as well” (McCabe 576).
When professors and schools force students to use programs such as Turnitin, they are clearly sending out a message which states, “guilty-until-proven-innocent. ” By asking students to use Turnitin, professors are assuming that most students are going to cheat and plagiarize their papers in some way and it creates a “culture of mistrust, a culture of guilt” (Rawe 570). Ethics in education should always include a magnitude of trust, so when professors presume students to all have plagiarized until a software program proves otherwise, it violates this code.This not only creates a feeling of mistrust amongst students and professors, this also goes against our American rights—innocent until proven guilty. Instead of using anti-plagiarizing programs such as Turnitin to catch or discourage students from cheating, schools should focus more on the ethics in academic integrity, and possibly expand the “honor code by obligating students to take action of they observe or hear about cheating”(Rawe 570); by doing so will ensue an ethical education formally based upon academic integrity.Plagiarism is a behavior of academic misconduct that violates the importance of academic integrity and definitely should not be acceptable. Many schools have resorted to using Turnitin as a convenient way to prevent and detect plagiarism.
However, when schools decide to use a program that uses student’s intellectual work in order to make a hefty profit without offering compensation, permission, or acknowledgment to the student, they support a company which goes against all of the fundamental elements they have tried protect and instill into the education system regarding academic integrity.And when schools still choose to sacrifice student intellectual property in order to prevent plagiarism, the trust code between professors and students becomes violated, and academic integrity will cease to exist.Works Cited 1. “Plagiarizing. ” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. http://www.
merriam-webster. com/dictionary/plagiarizing? show=0;t=1284692767(14 Sept. 2010). 2. Walsh, Bill. “Expect, but Respect, Original Work by

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