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Professors worried about Web plagiarism

Sun., Aug. 21, 2005

Type “Moby Dick papers” into Google.

It won’t take long to see what has some college professors concerned – a zillion Web sites boasting high quality and low prices for pre-fab term papers.

“The paper states,” one site reads, “that, in Ahab, the reader can see exceptional courage, endurance, strength of purpose, and admirable heroic willpower, but at the same time, he is a destructive madman who has substituted egotism and self-love for the humility and self-abnegation of a true believer.”

A steal at $34.95.

Plagiarism and other forms of cheating are high among the concerns that university professors have about the influence of the Internet on education. A University of Illinois survey conducted in 2004 found that 42 percent of professors said the Internet has harmed the quality of student work, while just 22 percent said it had improved, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Despite the professors’ reservations about the influence of the Internet on student performance, more than 80 percent surveyed said it had improved their teaching. Virtually all of them said they communicate with students via e-mail, and three-quarters said e-mail had improved communications with students.

Professors say they can recognize signs of writing that isn’t a student’s own, and some computer programs check submitted work for signs of plagiarism. In the University of Illinois survey, nearly three-quarters said they had used the Internet themselves to try and catch plagiarists.

Shawn Vestal


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