Plagiarism in college is a serious issue that demands officials’ attention, but MSU might be making premature decisions to prevent students from plagiarizing.
MSU is considering purchasing Turnitin, a plagiarism detection software, for academic assignments. The software is in use by more than 100 universities nationwide and offers features and tools for instructors to detect copied work.
Although plagiarism in general is a problem that should be stopped, it isn’t a big enough issue at MSU to warrant the money needed for the Turnitin program.
With the software having more than 17 billion websites and 200 million student papers in its database, it can be assumed that Turnitin would not be a cheap investment for MSU.
When the MSU Virtual University Design and Technology, or vuDAT, conducted a survey last year regarding plagiarism, 66 percent of instructors said they were “quite” or “very” concerned about it, but 25 percent reported never having a plagiarism incident with students.
If plagiarism is not a huge issue for the university, Turnitin might be a waste of money. MSU could benefit from investing its money elsewhere. For example, ANGEL, MSU’s current course management system, has had many issues during the past few years that make it difficult for students to access the program, and students and instructors both would benefit from those problems being solved.
It seems the university is making pre-emptive decisions with researching Turnitin, and spending money on a little-needed program would be like throwing funds out the window.
Even though 75 percent of instructors having an occurrence with the issue might sound like a large amount of incidences, it might not be telling of how often plagiarism actually occurs.
Some instructors might have only encountered a single incident, causing them to be a part of the 75 percent. Many instructors have been teaching for many years, and a handful of occurrences during the course of 20 or 30 years is not enough to make plagiarism a major concern.
It doesn’t seem plagiarism occurs often enough at MSU to need an entire program to prevent it.
Additionally, if MSU buys Turnitin, students would submit their papers to turnitin.com, which raises issues with paper copies being submitted. Rubrics for all classes would need changing, and it’s a possibility that some professors might not even use the software. The program also could delay grades being posted at the end of semesters, and professors don’t need another potential delay at that time of the year.
If plagiarism was a bigger issue, MSU would benefit from investing in Turnitin, but they do not have enough evidence to prove that it is a big problem. In the future, if the university researches how often plagiarism occurs in classrooms, and it proves to be a problem, then the program would be justified. Now, it is a pre-emptive strike against something that might not even be an issue.