April 19, 2021

Is it Possible to Detect Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is an enormous problem in higher education and it often begins when students are in high school. According to a Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics survey, one in three high school students in the U.S. used Internet resources to plagiarize an assignment. But what can we do about these disappointing statistics? How can teachers stop academic dishonesty from spreading, and encourage students to develop their own voices? Let’s examine plagiarism and cheating a bit closer.

Commercial Contract Cheating is on the Rise 

When you hear about students using the Internet for cheating, you probably imagine a lot of copy-pasting from different sources. But plagiarism is so much more than that. Aside from simply stealing information without stating the source, more students are using professional academic writing services.

Sadly, contract cheating is extremely popular these days. In this form of plagiarism, students buy papers written for them by professional academic writing services. Statistics show that in the UK alone, 20,000 students buy professionally written essays every year. In fact, the professional essay-writing industry is worth over $100m. If you’d like to learn more about contract cheating, check out professor Tracey Bretag’s key findings on this problem in Australian higher education.

Essay Mills Force Students to Commit Fraud

Today, thousands of companies offer academic writing services to students online, which makes it even harder for teachers to detect plagiarism. Beyond that, aggressive online advertising is one of the reasons why commercial contract cheating has become so popular around the globe. Just listen to what Dr. Thomas Lancaster discovered about the essay mills’ marketing strategy.

Anti-Plagiarism Systems Are Not Suffice

The difficult part of preventing commercial contract cheating is that it’s almost impossible to detect. Ordinary plagiarism detection software is useless against this type of academic dishonesty. No matter what plagiarism checker you have, all it does is track similarities in texts. Sure, it can help a lot if your students copied some parts of an essay from several websites, but in contract cheating, we deal with someone else’s original work, so it won’t be considered plagiarism by the checker. In fact, most online essay-writing services use this as their selling point, claiming that their products are “plagiarism-free.” This is only true, of course, if you take a plagiarism checker’s opinion on that.

Artificial Intelligence Assists in Detecting Academic Fraud

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know how to identify academic contract cheating, because intelligent contract cheating detection software can provide a solution. Take a look at Emma, for instance. Emma is an AI-based authorship verification assistant developed by Unicheck. Thanks to natural language processing combined with stylometry, Emma studies the writing of a student. She analyzes the writing, categorizing it into linguistic and stylistic silos. Having read through at least three of a student’s original texts ranging between 300 and 1000 words, Emma can identify the writing voice of a person. This makes it easy for Emma to detect if a piece was written by a particular student or someone else. This tool also allows teachers to save more time on assessing papers. 

Nurture Academic Integrity

Every educator wants their students to develop independent thinking and their own voice. Unfortunately, with essay mills storming students’ inboxes daily, it becomes harder to foster creativity and academic honesty while preventing contract cheating. The good news is you can actually distinguish the works that have been written by someone else thanks to artificial intelligence and neural networks. By using software to detect contract cheating, you can help stop the outsourcing of academic work and make your students think twice before paying for their essays. Also, don’t forget to make it clear that contract cheating means committing fraud, and can result in serious penalties. And to top it off, equip your students with an understanding of Plagiarism, so they know what it means and how they can avoid it. The Oxford University’s guide on academic good practice is a great tool to get them started.


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