No surprise: Turnitin report on own data tells us little of interest

Whilst I was on holiday, iParadigms published a white paper looking at the top 100 sources of non-original text in student papers submitted to Turnitin from June 2010 to March 2011. I didn’t have chance to read it until today, though I expressed my concerns about the data that it may contain when I heard about the story.

A good summary of the findings is available from Scholarly Kitchen, or you can register to download the report (for free) with Turnitin.  There really isn’t much more meat to it than the headlines reported in the press release. The data used were raw figures of non-originality scores, which are pretty meaningless in the context of plagiarism and academic integrity (as Turnitin itself knows and comments on in the report).

I’m disappointed (but not surprised) that Turnitin are not using the incredible database of student writing they have at their disposal for something more interesting than some sweeping generalisations with little consideration of the context of these data. Scholarly publishing is beginning to wake up to open source, open data and open access, I wonder if the world of academic integrity will ever move in this direction?

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