Turnitin new add-on: Authorship Investigate

Recent articles (see below) have highlighted growing concern about students purchasing made-to-order essays and assignments from so-called ‘essay mills’ or ‘essay writing services’ and how universities need to raise awareness about the practice and the risks involved. The practice is known as ‘contract cheating’.

Oxford University has been aware of this practice for a number of years, and warns students by means of lunch-time awareness sessions, study skills websites and other support services (Oxford login required). Students are also warned not to seek free so-called ‘plagiarism checking’ services, which may be spurious (for example, resulting in stealing original work and selling it to others).

From January 2019, the providers of Turnitin will launch a new add-on product called Authorship Investigate. This tool makes use of forensic linguistics and machine learning to investigate a piece of student writing based on the student’s usual style, tone and other linguistic characteristics. As always, a software tool can only flag issues that may deserve further investigation and interpretation by experts in the field.

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