Dr. David Perry discusses “Using Software to Reinforce Academic Integrity: An Assessment of Turnitin.com,” on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 on the Davidson College campus. This forum is hosted by the Vann Center for Ethics.
Consistent with Davidson’s Honor Code and our wider responsibilities to the scholarly community, one of the obligations of faculty is to help students learn how to use source material ethically in their writing and speaking. Given the ease with which writers today can copy and paste material from digital sources, they risk making unfair use of them, not only if they don’t provide adequate documentation, but also if they don’t paraphrase others’ words thoroughly. Searching Google to investigate questionable paraphrasing can be effective in some cases, but unreliable in others.
Turnitin.com offers an “originality check” on student papers that compares them not only with online sources but also with its database of literally hundreds of millions of essays that it’s compiled over the past dozen years. Dr. Perry first used Turnitin at Santa Clara University a decade ago, and is testing it again this semester with his Writing 101 students. He’ll discuss Turnitin’s strengths and weaknesses, and indicate whether he recommends that Davidson College faculty sign up for a free six-month subscription, and possibly a paid subscription after that. (Dr. Perry has no financial relationship with Turnitin.com.)
About the Vann Center for Ethics:
Established through a generous gift from James Vann, Jr. ’50 and Lee Stanton Vann, and dedicated on November 16, 2009 at Davidson College. Its strategic vision is to be a catalyst for moral inquiry and imagination, careful analysis and reflection, civil dialogue, and responsible action.