Pragmatism and Skepticism about Plagiarism Detection Software

Elizabeth Losh, University of California, Irvine



A Tale of Two Metaphors: "Metal Detectors" at Airports (David Kay) or Tests that Generate "
False Positives" (Sharon Block)

Metal Detectors at Airports
Tests that Generate False Positives
Purpose is primarily deterrance
Purpose is primarily diagnosis
Operates in public space
Operates in private space
Applies to all equally
Objectifies one party and elevates the other to "expert"
Labor is lessened by the machine
Labor is created by the machine
Guilty parties are manifestly guilty ("terrorists")
Diseases or controlled substances may only appear to be present

The "fingerprint" analogy from Turnitin.com

The "radar screen" analogy from The Center for Academic Integrity

How is the definition of plagiarism being shaped by technological means?


Why is "tool literacy" dominating the debate?

Does research indicate that "cut-and-paste" plagiarism is viewed the same way by students as it is by
their instructors

If so, is Rebecca Moore Howard Right that "patchwriting" is a subversively productive, albeit immature, cultural act?


Sexuality, Textuality: The Cultural Work of Plagiarism

Plagiarism, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty

Or does the rhetoric of institutions that capitalize on plagiarism reflect the consumerism, unfair commodity relations, and the ideologies of class and cultural capital from the dominant society, as Kelly Ritter claims?

The Economics of Authorship: Online Paper Mills, Student Writers, and First-Year Composition

In contrast to those who advocate "honor code" over software code, I am claiming that discussion of the issues in the context of penalties and outcomes opens opportunities for dialogue

Empirical evidence about what works: the 1998 U.C. Irvine experience

Discussion of writing as a public act and the circulation of discourses can be productive

The rhetoric of the release that U.C. Irvine students sign avoids reactionary or nostalgic appeals and more realistically emphasizes "independence" rather than "originality"

The emphasis is on external practices rather than internalized ideals

See this Virtual Research exercise from Ellen Strenski and Liz Losh

Rethinking our allegiances within the academy

The U.C. Irvine Revision to the Policy on Academic Honesty

The alarm about file-sharing

Academia and the remix culture described by Lawrence Lessig

Plagiarism by prominent faculty members, such as in the cases described by Jon Wiener

Total information awareness: LexisNexis uses Turnitin.com to "protect intellectual property" with a product "designed to benefit the media and business community"

Research universities and corporate ownership: another version of the iParadigms success story that goes beyond the obvious concerns about legal dilemmas about student privacy and intellectual property that U.C. Berkeley cites

Should silence about or lobbying against the Digital Millennium Copywright Act and other pieces of restrictive copyright legislation be important?  (Even the NCTE and the MLA take different positions)

Open Source and Freeware Alternatives

The MOSS system

PAIRwise, The Santa Barbara project

How else can plagiarism be prevented?  The WPA Statement

Multiple occasions for writing

Specificity of writing prompts and situations

Pedagogical emphasis on feedback and revision.

Apprenticeship: providing models for good citation practice

Is "Being Happy about Internet Plagiarism" Possible?

What have we discovered about the cultural practices of plagiarism because of www.turnitin.com?

Unwitting collaborators

The role of print sources

Ethnographies of cyberculture and virtual communities