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Turnitin to become more intelligent and detect writing style as well as content

Submitting assignments just got harder

The Turnitin we know and loathe is soon to be upgraded to detect essay writing style as well as essay content. The upgrade has been developed in response to a trend in which students pay third parties to write their essays for them.

The new algorithm will be able to detect and learn a student’s writing style. If sections of submissions, or entire essays differ in style to previous work, the programme will flag the submission as plagiarised.

Currently, students are getting away with cheating

Many lecturers believe hiring professional essay writers is becoming ever more popular. Turnitin can currently only detect plagiarised work against a text that already exists. If the content is original, it will circumvent the algorithm despite the fact that the work is not the student’s own.

According to The Daily Telegraph, as many as 20,000 students per year are paying for essays and the industry is thought to be worth over £100 million. The companies offering these services continue to exist because they state that the essays are not be submitted as the student’s own. Quite regularly however, students ignore the warnings and submit them anyway.

Contract writing and plagiarism

It is not unusual to see targeted adverts on social media offering ‘bespoke essay writing services’ to students. Submitting another’s work as your own tantamount to plagiarism and if a student were to be caught, they would risk suspension and their degree.

The issue with such a method of plagiarism is that wealthier students are able to gain an unfair and undeserved advantage over other students who cant afford the large fees paid to the freelance writers. Some students have apparently paid thousands of pounds for dissertations to ensure that they get a good degree classification.

How does it work?

The new software has been developed thanks to new machine learning technology which is able to improve itself over time. By detecting patterns in phraseology and syntax employed by a student, the new algorithm will be able to identify the author of a text.

The change will benefit everyone

Whilst the development may well make the essay submission process more difficult thanks to an extra similarity level to worry about, the move will benefit all students by enforcing academic integrity. Plagiarists will no longer be able to pay their way through a degree and the playing field will be levelled.

Universities are supposed to be the most meritocratic of places and this should not be undermined by students who have no sense of fairness and extra cash to spare.