Paraphrasing Tools: A New Problem

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“This is why dreams of finding the perfect plagiarism detection system are doomed to failure. The ‘other side,” if you will, will come up with better disguises. We have to find other ways of teaching and enforcing good academic practice” (Debora Weber-Wulff, quoted in retractionwatch.com).

A new internet based tool has become the norm for students scrambling to complete their essays–Paraphrasing generators.  Here’s an example of one.

This article (Evading Plagiarism Detection Software) by retractionwatch.com discusses this new problem.

The article discuses the rising issue with various experts offering their opinions including what to do in response. The best advice for teachers is to LOOKOUT FOR STRANGE OR ODD WRITING WHERE THE SENTENCES DON’T MAKE SENSE.

This is excellent advice. Remember, there is no perfect plagiarism detection software out there. Students can get around it. You can’t just submit a paper to a plagiarism detection tool. You must read the paper and use your common sense.

In the article, university professor Ann Rogerson, tells teachers to “openly discuss their existence in class demonstrating how poor the tools actually are along with my encouraging student questions about originality, citations and acknowledgements when preparing for assignments.  Confronting the issue is important therefore I work with students on how to learn and develop paraphrasing skills without using an online tool.  Just because some online tools can easily and correctly convert temperature, distance and currency does not mean that Internet based text tools can be relied upon the same way.  The only way of bringing it to light is to talk and write about it.”

In the final part of the article, Rogerson describes her steps to detect whether or not a paraphrasing tool has been used by a student. Extremely valuable.

Teachers everywhere must make themselves aware.

 

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