Last night I spent over an hour doing some user testing for iParadigms. They are trying to create a new originality report for Turnitin. I was very impressed, not just at being asked to actually do some user testing (acting on customer feedback has never been a strong point before) but at the design of the new report.
The biggest change is that student work will be shown with full formatting, including diagrams and figures. The matching text is highlighted in situ, a little like using a highlighter pen on real paper. This will give a far more intuitive feel to the analysis of originality reports and include a huge amount of context in a very visual way. The current system of highlighting matches using boxing out, tends to over emphasize their importance and makes it difficult to judge the amount and severity of the non-original text. Including figures will help us to judge whether the figures have been properly used and referenced.
It appears that iParadigms are also trying hard to counteract the noise that is creeping into the originality reports. I complained about this at the beginning of this academic year. They have recognised this and are looking at ways of representing overlapping matches in a different way though the representation of this required some work, the concept was great.
I’m sure that the final product will end being different from the version I saw last night, but it certainly looks like they have some interesting developments in the pipeline.
Update 11 May 2010: Turnitin have now made these changes public, with a release date of 21 August 2010. Lots more information about the improvements are available on their website.