Ever since teachers have assigned papers as a part of a class, students have found a way to cheat. Cheating on papers comes in several forms. There is blatant plagiarism – copying another student’s work or drawing out long quotes from a book without attribution. There is also paying another person to do the work for you – providing them a fee in exchange for doing your work.
Technology has made it easier in certain areas to detect cheating. Sites like plagiarisma.net and dustball.com offer free plagiarism checkers on the internet for teachers to investigate their student’s work. Turnitin is also a popular service, and has been subscribed to by a number of institutions to monitor student work. Teachers and professors often require students to submit their papers to the Turnitin site before submitting it for a grade. The paper is given a score based on how much of the work is originally produced by the student.
Ironically, while the internet has made it easier to ferret out cheating, it has also made it easier to cheat. The universe of publicly avalible information has skyrocketed in the information age, making it less likely that an article a student plagiarizes from will be traced to something other than the student’s original work product. Meanwhile, the sale of everything from test outlines, to book summaries, to essays personalized to a particular course has become a cottage industry online. Customwritings.com for example offers custom papers at $10 a page. Midterm.US puts the price at $12 a page. The websites for these companies are unapologetic. They feature photographs of smiling students, and contain lengthy paragraphs detailing how college life can be stressful and students should not feel ashamed paying someone else to do the work for them.
Teachers and professors should be aware that these sites are out there. The first step to preventing there use is to subscribe to sites like Turnitin. This will catch any students relying on paper already submitted for other classes. For papers that are custom written for the student, the task of discovering cheating is more difficult but not impossible. Teachers should know their students. If students are using a high vocabulary or grammar level in a particular paper, but have not similarly done so in other papers, the chances are someone else may have written the paper. Similarly, if the paper was on a subject that was discussed at length in class, but the paper contains a spectrum of new ideas not raised in class, it is possible the paper was written by a non class member.