Revolution Lullabye

May 12, 2009

Atkins and Nelson, Plagiarism and the Internet

Atkins, Thomas and Gene Nelson. “Plagiarism and the Internet: Turning the Tables.” The English Journal. 90.4 (March 2001), 101-104.

Atkins and Nelson, two high school teachers, teach at the high school that test piloted (the creator of the program was an alma mater.) They claim that the software has cut student plagiarism to nearly zero and advocate its use to both prevent plagiarism and to make sure students are getting as good as an education as they could possibly get, one that is in jeopardy if Internet plagiarism goes uncontrolled. They argue that teachers and schools, by using a program like Turnitin, insist on high academic integrity, an expectation that is beneficial to students. Their article gives a sample paper that shows how Turnitin is able to identify passages that were lifted from internet sites and other papers.

Quotable Quotes

“The teacher is the final determiner of whether or not the paper was plagiarized. The program is a tool, albiet a powerful tool, but it is not the final determiner. The teacher, with his or her knowledge, skill, and experience, will make the final decision” (104).

“If students are allowed to use others’ words and ideas as their own, they deny themselves the opportunity to develop writing fluency and critical thinking skills” (104).

The goal of education = “The development of comprehesive skills, powerful understanding, and excellent ethics” (104).

Notable Notes

Turnitin is supposed to be preventative, not punitive

students are in awe of the power of the program, witness its capabilities and then, I suppose, cut out the plagiarism

all of plagiarism – stealing and buying papers, patchwritten text, is treated the same


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