Academic integrity has always been an integral part of the reason why educational environments like colleges and universities thrive and are effective. As a result, a breach of this integrity, which is referred to as academic misconduct by most institutions, is not tolerated at any level. Among the many forms of academic misconduct, student plagiarism has proven to be one of the the most popular types of misconduct committed on college campuses, frustrating many professors, instructors, and teachers assistants.
Plagiarism detection services intended to reveal a lack of originality in submitted works have become commonplace in college courses. Since the implementation of these services, academic misconduct rates on many campuses are through the roof. Skeptics of plagiarism detection services have come up with studies and collected data that challenges the validity and usefulness of these devices in college settings.
One of the most popular services for identifying plagiarism in academic works is Turnitin. To use this service, students are required to upload their essay, reports, and other coursework into this program. In a few moments, it displays an originality report that compares the text submitted to its massive database of student work, websites, books, articles etc. What writing students have discovered about the service is that the instances of “non-originality” Turnitin detects in most cases isn't plagiarism, but the use of jargon, common terms, and the lack of originality one would expect of a college freshman. In some cases, the service has been found to not provide the correct source from which a student's paper was supposedly plagiarized.
A former student at Rutgers University, by the name of Amanda Serpico, says she was a victim of a Turnitin false positive. The plagiarism detection system concluded that parts of her paper on gay marriage laws were lifted from other sources, which lead to an academic misconduct report to the dean. Due to this finding, a lengthy and complex process disciplinary process ensued, forcing Serpico to attend numerous meetings and to write several appeals to prove her innocence.
Ultimately, Serpico's appeal was rejected and she was found guilty of plagiarism this past spring, she received an “F” on her final, which means she failed her course. She was scheduled to graduate in May with a double major, but she only walked across that stage for one major. She claims her senior year was ruined due to what she, and the institution, acknowledges as a mistake. The most disheartening aspect of this situation is that Serpico likely isn't the only one to suffer due to the false positives Turnitin and other detection services conclude. Unfortunately, as schools rely more heavily on these services, more innocent students will be unfairly penalized for academic misconduct.
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Allegations of academic misconduct are serious and should be treated as such. If you believe that your allegations are unjustified, you need the help of a student defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience helping students who've acquired academic misconduct charges prevail in disciplinary hearings, and he as the skill and expertise to help you do the same. Contact him today.