Flaws highlighted in a plagiarism-detection system used by the University have been explained by the Deputy Head of the Law School, Gordon Stewart.
In last week’s Salient, it was reported that British lecturer Simeon Yates used Turnitin to test his own work for copied material and found that it failed to recognise his submission was 100 percent copied from his own previously-published output.
Turnitin is an online system used by a number of faculties which checks submissions against both current and archived internet content, commercial databases of periodicals and previously submitted material.
Stewart believes that Yates’ research results were “merely sensational [rather] than valid.” “Unless Yates’ first piece [was] on the Turnitin database, this will happen,” he says, “[He] should have run his previously published piece through… and then later run his second piece through.”
Stewart added that he often ran work through the system twice and conceded that while Turnitin was not yet a perfect system, it would improve as its database grew.
Stephen Marshall, Acting Director at the University’s Teaching Development Centre, confirmed Stewart’s interpretation of Yates’ findings, and noted that Turnitin greatly reduced the work that University staff needed to do to document and resolve plagiarism problems.