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Letter to the editor

Turnitin encourages legitimate writers

September 28, 2007

In response to last week’s editorial, I disagree with your portrayal of Turnitin.com. In short, Turnitin is a Web site professors use to grade papers and check them for plagiarism. Students upload papers, which the Web site cross-checks against billions of other student submitted papers, Web sites, journals and other periodicals. Turnitin then gives back an “originality report” which highlights parts of the paper that match the content from their database. Professors can also digitally grade papers using a standardized grading system and store those papers in an online grade book similar to D2L. You claim that Turnitin makes students worry about being caught for similar work they didn’t know existed. After using Turnitin for three classes I can say this is an irrational belief. As students who are required to use this Web site, we should familiarize ourselves with it and use it to our advantage. The “originality report” feature allows a student to submit their paper before it’s due and see if any content matches that in Turnitin’s database. This can help students catch any work that wasn’t properly cited. If there is duplicate content, the student becomes aware of it and can edit the paper or talk to the professor. Furthermore, this site checks for plagiarism more thoroughly and efficiently than a professor could, giving them time for more productive pursuits. The only people that don’t benefit from using Turnitin are those who rely on plagiarism, and those people deserve to be stopped. Students on this campus are working hard to graduate and move on to bigger and better things. Being held accountable for our written work is one way to achieve that goal. It shows professionalism and integrity in not only ourselves, but also the institution that we represent.

John Strharsky