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Monday, May 08, 2006

An academic approach to spotting plagiarized content...

By now, almost everyone with an interest in making sure his or her content (or content to be purchased) is original knows about Copyscape. Googling sample portions of text can also help uncover acts of plagiarism. I learned about an interesting new option to check for originality. It's designed for educators and is called Turnitin.

Here's how it works: Turnitin checks submitted student papers against the net, all other papers submitted to turn it in and an extensive electronic database of other resources, papers, etc. It then gives the teacher an annotated report highlight possible transgressions and final "originality"score.

Turnitin is bundled with some other educator resources like an online grading tool. It's an interesting system and you might want to take alook at their product tour.

It seems to me as if something like Turnitin will eventually be widely available to the non-academic community. Copyscape is great, but it has some limitations that a solution like Turnitin can solve by adding other non-web digitized resources to the process. The final report the program produces looks like a great proof when one claims content misappropriation.

My bet: Look for a pay-per-use version of a more generalized Turnitin-style system in the near future. As content originality continues to increase in importance along with incidents of stolen text, I think something like that would find a substantial audience.