Revolution Lullabye

May 20, 2009

Brown, Fallon, Matthews, Mintie, Taking on Turnitin

Brown, Renee, Brian Fallon, Elizabeth Matthews, and Elizabeth Mentie. “Taking on Turnitin: Tutors Advocating Change.” The Writing Center Journal 27.1 (2007): 7-28.

These four writing center tutors ran a paper through the Turnitin software and analyzed its results, arguing that Turnitin has both pedagogical limitations and ethical problems in the way it handles student writing.  It oversimplifies what it means to write with sources, and students can quickly learn how to “outsmart” Turnitin (but not become more sophisticated source-users) by using thesauruses to change individual words in an Internet source. Writing centers, since they come into contact with writers from all over the university, need to take the lead in plagiarism and citation issues and should argue for teaching citation first and giving workshops so that instuctors can interpret Turnitin results into pedagogical solutions.

Notable Notes

who owns the database of papers that Turnitin uses?

universities find it hard to opt out of Turnitin for a different service…all the student papers are stored there; they’d lose what they had gathered.

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