A new online text matching tool will become available on the university network this November.  In a drive to challenge plagiarism, the online facility, named Turnitin, can compare written text to various online stored sources, including web pages, electronic journal articles and other authored material.

According to the university’s Teaching and Learning Development Unit this programme is already used by a large majority of UK universities.  The Turnitin international website boasts of holding over 90,000 journals, periodicals and books, and millions of student papers.

The tool will at first be available for student use.  This idea, advocated was by the university’s Turnitin Steering and Implementation Group as a way of developing the resource.
Students will be able to use the tool independently when drafting and redrafting essays and papers.  Turnitin will also copy and store online essays submitted on the programme by users, discouraging peer copying.

The university suggests it will also reduce accidental plagiarism,  including the use of a resource without reference.  It implies use of Turnitin could aid students in achieving a good standard of writing with proper referencing.
An initial student orientation to the system may help people improve their ability to work independently.  This could possibly encourage increased seeking of primary resources for improved individual interpretation of a topic, beyond textbooks.

A potential negative issue could be a feeling of insecurity in terms of privacy when submitting essays, sections of which could later be returned to other users.
Although currently a student resource, there are plans to possibly extend the programme to teaching staff, who could check students’ work themselves. That particular proposal might come into effect in the next academic year.  However, for now it could prove valuable for students across many fields.

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