Turnitin tool on Trunk monitors plagiarism
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 01:09
The university introduced an interface between Trunk and Turnitin.com, an online plagiarism-prevention technology, at the start of the fall semester.
The change was made in an effort to provide faculty with a more convenient way to use the Turnitin program, according to Sheryl Barnes, interim director of Educational and Scholarly Technology Services.
“We realized that without a huge amount of additional cost or effort, we could make a connection between Trunk and Turnitin, and therefore allow this additional functionality for the community and convenience of the faculty,” she said.
Barnes noted, however, that the version of Turnitin available on Trunk lacks the full functionality associated with Turnitin’s website. While the Trunk version has faculties for detecting plagiarism, it does not allow online grading, commenting and other options offered by Turnitin.
“If [faculty] wanted to use [Turnitin] just to run assignments that students turn in through the Turnitin databases and make sure that everything’s okay in terms of originality, they can do that right from within Trunk,” Barnes said.
Faculty will also still have the option to use the full Turnitin website as in previous semesters, Barnes added.
Since Tufts has used Turnitin.com prior to this year’s enhancement, the Educational and Scholarly Technology Services did not have to seek explicit permission to proceed with the Trunk integration, according to Barnes.
“This [integration] was just an enhancement ... there was no additional process that was really needed,” Barnes said.
Barnes explained that Turnitin is not mandatory on the Trunk site but can be activated through a simple process. The application is listed under tools in the editor site on Trunk.
“[Faculty] have to turn it on,” she said. “It’s not turned on automatically.”
While most faculty were pleased with the addition of Turnitin, some faculty may be disappointed that not all features of the website were accessible on Trunk, Barnes said.
“It might have been possible to manage expectations a little bit better about what we were actually going to be providing,” Barnes said.
The new Trunk feature has spurred mixed reaction among Tufts faculty. Lecturer in the Department of History David Proctor said he did not feel comfortable using Turnitin — through Trunk or otherwise — in his courses and will not be doing so this year.
“I just have an issue with students having to submit their work to some big entity,” he said. “As a student, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that with any of my work, and so as a faculty member I can’t in good conscience support something that I can’t see as acceptable,” he said.
Assistant Professor of History Alisha Rankin, on the other hand, was pleased with the greater convenience and accessibility of Turnitin on Trunk.
“In principle, this is fantastic,” she said. “I love this idea.”
While noting that Turnitin’s online grading feature is helpful, especially in large lecture courses, Rankin explained that her main reason for using Turnitin is to detect and deter plagiarism.
Rankin also appreciated the new simplicity of the system. Instead of having to submit papers to both Turnitin and Trunk, students now only have to visit the Trunk site.
Rankin regrets only that Trunk cannot allow students to view originality reports or submit essay revisions to Turnitin, because the final drafts would be viewed as plagiarism from the first draft, she said.
“It is much more practical, but has a lot less functionality than it did before,” she said.