The pros and cons of using a plagiarism checker for teaching or learning

The influence of IT on the education system is currently progressing. The positive aspects of such a pattern are undeniable and include increasing the accessibility of data and speeding up and simplifying various communication channels. Today, students have the ability to access the sources and information they need quickly and at almost no additional cost, whereas less than a decade ago it required a much greater investment of time and resources. A similar principle applies to communication: a student can contact an educator from home, another region and even another country. Information technology also allows for a more visual presentation of material using various animations, charts, tables and other interactive means.

Thus, the main privileges of using information technologies in academia include accelerating, simplifying and expanding the exchange of information. However, all this also reflects an unfavorable circumstance and a negative side of computerization processes, because this ease gives impetus to a problem that has recently become more and more urgent, namely the problem of plagiarism in education. Accordingly, with all these points in mind, it will be useful to review the pros and cons of plagiarism for teaching or learning.

Recognize plagiarism as a waste of time

Plagiarism has become a really alarming problem in higher education in most countries. The proportion of student projects with some obvious signs of plagiarism seems to increase geometrically. It is mainly explained by the proliferation of the internet and digital technologies, the growing workload of teachers, plus the total and absolute disregard for copyright, and a declining level of academic culture or the fear of being expelled. Accordingly, many educational institutions are aware of the need to adopt a strict plagiarism prohibition policy and take strict measures for timely detection.

Disadvantages of using a plagiarism checker

In theory, a majority of universities already have a strict academic ethics policy that touches on the problem of plagiarism. However, there are certain disadvantages of using plagiarism checkers that prevent their use by educators and learners at many universities:

  • Economic cost of high-quality plagiarism checkers;
  • issue of data protection compliance;
  • Weak regulation in academia.

The main disadvantage in this list dealing with plagiarism software for teachers seems to be the economic cost of plagiarism detection, which is proposed by numerous services today. The big players in this space tend to offer different types of subscriptions for different customers. If it is an academic institution, educators share the cost of implementing the policy, usually on a voluntary basis, to streamline their workflows. The latter suggests excluding plagiarized projects from the evaluation process from the outset. Because it is voluntary, this approach does not typically apply to all subjects listed in the university curriculum, and students find out relatively quickly which exact items are exempt from control.

When using a university subscription, all teachers receive comparatively flexible access to a plagiarism detection service, but a large-volume subscription is expensive. Adding all the features together, the cost of using a commercial plagiarism service can be prohibitive for any discipline taught at university.

Another “downside” to teachers being cautious about using plagiarism tools is compliance with privacy and property laws, including retention policies for work submitted for review. The terms of such services contain a clause that gives the service provider the right to store copies of papers “forever”, which is justified by the need for actual verification of the document. Also, the faculty or university remains responsible for compliance with all privacy and property laws. Also, the teacher and the university are usually granted copyright of the content they scan.

Benefits of using a plagiarism checker

Considering the above reasons, some institutions still ignore the possession of a proper toolkit to check the originality of the submitted assignments, preferring to pay more attention only to graduate courses and thesis. This is ironic considering that the junior year is the most efficient time for students to absorb all the details of academic ethics and the culture of responsibility. In particular, as a result of some research on this issue, the conclusion was drawn that tools for detecting plagiarism are an integral part of the strategy aimed at the ethical empowerment of learners and teachers. The advantages of this are as follows:

  • training in ethical writing skills;
  • Strengthening the ability to use all sources within the allowed rule sets;
  • improving a muscle of the original idea formulation;
  • A guarantee for a positive image as a student and teacher:
  • For students, you are considered a responsible learner;
  • As an educator, you demonstrate your commitment to pedagogy and the rise of an ethically strong undergraduate.

Accordingly, the best plagiarism checker for teachers would be the one that suggests an ethics training course that they can propose for their students, as well as those that suggest active and qualitative participation by teachers and reviewers. Also, the anti-plagiarism systems should be self-sufficient, which means that they use specialized search algorithms, legally use their own databases with potentially unique content that is not openly available everywhere on the webspaces, and work at a relatively high speed in comparison with meta search engines. Working principles of self-sufficient systems suggest converting the checked paper or document into text and indexing the result. The indexing phase may involve selecting elementary text fragments and reducing their number, and actually creating an index. Ultimately, when searching, the systems similarly transform the reviewed project, looking for “matching” parts and sorting the result.

Why use a student plagiarist?

Considering all the pros and cons for teaching, it is easier to formulate an answer to the question “Why use a plagiarist for students?”. The points for and against are actually similar, namely the cost of subscribing to the plagiarism checker and the desire to grant copyright to your work to the commercial service or educational institution checking the text. However, the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages: the student gets the assurance that his project is completely original and that he has appropriately applied the reference rules on each and every page of the submitted document. In addition, it is understandable that the potential of the machine with access to digital databases is much higher than when a person tries to check the text himself.

Also, the plagiarism check services are continuously evolving and overcoming all the troublesome issues of checking the paper for uniqueness. To illustrate, searching word-by-word for text matches is an extremely resource-intensive operation; one can be simplified by not looking for individual words but for individual fragments. The latter could be sentences; However, they give a comparatively low search efficiency, so there was a solution to split one into several parts or to connect the neighboring ones. For this reason, examiners choose to use phrases extracted from a single submitted text.

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