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Statement on Plagiarism Detection Software

The Faculty Writing Committee has produced the following statement on the use of plagiarism detection software. This statement is endorsed by Patricia Roberts-Miller, Director of the University Writing Center and Jeffrey Walker, Chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing.

Instructors considering using plagiarism detection software in their Writing Flagged classes should be aware of the following

  • Despite industry claims to the contrary, most plagiarism detection software fails to accurately detect plagiarism. Read more.
  • The Conference on College Composition and Communication and the Council of Writing Program Administrators do not endorse plagiarism detection software and have issued statements warning of its limitations. Read more.
  • Plagiarism detection software can have substantial unintended effects on student learning. It perpetuates a very narrow definition of originality and does little to teach students about the complex interplay of voices required in dialogic academic writing.
  • Plagiarism detection software transfers the responsibility for identifying plagiarism from a human reader to a non-human process. This runs counter to the Writing Flag’s concern for “careful reading and analysis of the writing of others” as part of the learning process.
  • Plagiarism detection software raises potential legal and ethical concerns, such as the use of student writing to construct databases that earn a profit for software companies, the lack of appeals processes, and potential violations of student privacy and FERPA protections.
  • Plagiarism detection software does not, by itself, provide sufficient evidence to prove academic dishonesty; it should not serve as the sole grounds for cases filed with Student Judicial Services.
  • Instructors who choose to use plagiarism detection software should include a syllabus statement about the software and its use, establish appeals processes, and plan for potential technological failures.
  • Other best practices for the use of plagiarism detection software may be found here
    1. Preventing Plagiarism
    2. Teaching with Plagiarism Detection Software
    3. Plagiarism Detection Software: Limitations and Responsibilities