Sunday, August 14, 2022

Why Turnitin Should be Illegal… If You’re a Student, This Affects YOU.

December 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Education, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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( In the “cut-and-paste” world we live in today, plagiarism is easier than ever and academic institutions are faced with the task of promoting honesty and respect for the work of others whilst simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the learning process.

The plagiarism-prevention tool Turnitin is used by universities and high schools to check documents for duplicated content. It works on the principle of identifying similarities to help students learn how to avoid plagiarism and ultimately to get better grades without copying the work of others. I believe it should be illegal for more than one reason.

Questions about the legality and effectiveness of the Turnitin system continue to grow. Many students are required by schools to submit essays to Turnitin but this has been a criticized with good reason.

The requirement for students to submit their work to Turnitin automatically makes each student a suspect of guilt in the first instance, a concern that many professors have discussed previously. In fact, some students have refused to submit their work on this basis alone and have successfully won their cases. Turnitin, in fact, breeds distrust amongst students and teachers and students and their peers but this is not the only reason I believe it shouldn’t be used.

The issue of ‘Fair Use’ applies here. Turnitin holds a vast database of student works to compare against new submissions in order to check for plagiarism. Copyright law operates by providing the creator of a new work a set of exclusive rights to the work for a limited period of time. I would argue that archiving student works like this and comparing them against subsequent papers does not constitute a fair use and is, in fact, copyright infringement.

Turnitin works by asserting ownership and access over work submitted by students without compensating them. It effectively uses this work to generate profit for the company itself. When you turn a paper into it is included into their database from that point on is accessed and referenced multiple times with no payment made to the author. For the author, the process of routinely submitting work to Turnitin means a loss of intellectual control over the distribution and use of that work. Of course, this practice is unfair and should be banned.

And at the end of the day, Turnitin doesn’t even work! Students are able to get away with plagiarism all the time. Students translate papers from one language to another, which can completely fool Turnitin. Other students pay people to rewrite their papers to get around Turnitin scans. There are plenty of ways to cheat Turnitin, so many, in fact, that even if Turnitin weren’t questionably legal, it’s still a huge waste of the time and money that universities continue to dump into this expensive software.

Use of this software by schools and colleges all over the world serves to violate educational privacy and intellectual property laws and for those reasons alone it should be made illegal. Anti-plagiarism software like this may presume to be protecting the work of students but it is effectively doing the opposite and is instead exploiting that work. For these reasons, I believe it should be made illegal without delay.

Staff Writer; George Adams



One Response to “Why Turnitin Should be Illegal… If You’re a Student, This Affects YOU.”
  1. Sarah says:

    I agree it is a means of controling students and lecturers behaviour. I accidentally pressed turnitin button three times. The night before my assessment was due to be put. I tried to download it. Phoned the university department. They where unsympathetic. Don’t know what human error and lack of concentration is. The lecturers behave like robots. Soon they will be out of a Job once the computers take over. It is like going back to school when teachers had the belt. People with autism I don’t believe could cope with the restraints either. I want it banned for the safety of the well being of students. I am a mature student. The most inhumane thing ever invented in education.

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