Web site deters cheating students

A new Web site is filling the much-needed role as a deterrent to plagiarism on the Internet. Plagiarism.org allows professors to download papers onto the site, which will then be “fingerprinted” for plagiarism. If plagiarism is suspected, an e-mail report stating the degree of cheating will be sent back to the professor. The site has to detect at least eight similarly used words before it will be put into the report.
With all the information on the Internet, students have more resources available for cheating. By simply surfing the Internet, cutting and pasting from a Web site into a paper, all of the work is done for students. However, this new service provides a balance for the academic resources available on the Internet. In fact, simply publicizing this site might deter students from plagiarizing because of the possibility this program could be used on papers.
Although this sort of service is necessary to ensure academic honesty, the system is not without problems. It is currently too easy for students to get around the “fingerprinting” process. Because the service only detects large text blocks taken directly from another source, by changing one or two words in the information block, plagiarized papers can avoid detection.
Also, the $20 registration fee — which allows 30 papers per user — could stop professors from using this important tool. The service should be offered free to schools, and fees should only be charged to independent parties.
This program is a much-needed resource for professors and instructors. By detecting plagiarism, it further expands the practical applications the Internet can provide.