14 May, 2012

Plagiarism solution introduced at DUT

Plagiarism solution introduced at DUT

Sphelele Ngubane

The Durban University of Technology introduced the Turnitin plagiarism detecting software, as a solution for plagiarism prevention earlier this month.  The software will be used by lecturers when assessing students’ work.  This came after the university realised that many students plagiarise when writing assignment.  Students also fail to acknowledge their source but pretend the work they submit as theirs.

The Turnitin software is a web-based programme.  Students are now said to be required to submit both hard and soft copy of their work.  The soft copy is put through Turnitin and the software is able to tell how much the student has plagiarised.

Improve students’ thinking
DUT spokesperson, Alan Khan said that there was an urgent need that the university gets a programme of this kind.  Khan mentioned that there are many students who graduate without mastering the art of thinking.  He said this is caused by students who plagiarised.

“We were really in need of the solution to plagiarism.  We have produced thousands of students whom some of them were copying other people’s work and pretend it was their own.  We have spent a lot of money in buying this software but we believe it will benefit us and mostly the improve students,” said Khan.

Original writings required
The Department of Media, Language and Communication is said to be the one that needed the software of this kind mostly.  According to the Head of the Department, Ms. Mbali Makhubu, the department requires students to be able to form their original written pieces.  Makhubu says students need to be able to come up with new writings to show that they really understand what they are being lectured.

“Students need to apply the knowledge they acquire in lectures and be able to write original work.  We do not want students who will pass and when they get to workplace they fail to deliver because they have been plagiarising other people’s work.  The Turnitin software is really going to help us in this mission of ours, the mission to create students with originality,” said Makhubu.

The Journalism Programme
While other programmes are seen to be using it once in a while, the Journalism Programme has started using it.  Adv. Robin Sewlal who lectures at the department said it became much more paramount that the Journalism Programme uses the Turnitin software.  He said as the programme they really want to promote original thought and the culture of original pieces.

“I fear that if we do not curb plagiarism could be taken out in the industry and the industry does not need that, and if the industry does not need that, your respective audience does not need that,” Adv. Sewlal said.

Sewlal said he would recommend the software for all universities.  He said one would not expect people, be the student or the academic staff to be copying other people’s work.

“By having the software, it provides a deterrent to people who would want to plagiarise, so if students know such a software has been put into use they will stop plagiarising. Whenever they are writing their assignments they will remember to acknowledge other people’s work they have used.  They will also be encouraged to write their own stuff.”

Teach using Turnitin
The Faculty of Arts and Design Writing Centre encouraged the use of the software even by students themselves.  The Writing centre co-ordinator, Andrea Alcock ensured that there has been a serious problem with students plagiarising.  Alcock advised that the software be used as a teaching tool.

 “It’s better to use it in a more positive way, where Turnitin tells the students what level of originality they managing to create when they are writing and that way Turnitin does not have to be seen as a punishment or as a big stick thing waved but rather as a way to develop oneself as a writer.”

Production of quality students
Simethembile Mbatha: Journalism student said the software is seen to be a way of failing them but he does not believe in that.  Mbatha said it will ensure that students of quality are produced.

“I believe this will be good help.  It will make us work hard and stand on our toes.  The unprofessional practice of “cut & paste” will be over and students now will create their own writings and do thorough research and also be able to paraphrase the information they get,” said Mbatha.

The Turnitin plagiarising software is currently available for lecturers in DUT.  Students hope that they will soon have access to it, so they may check their work themselves before they submit to lecturers.


Tanyaradzwa Nyamapfene said...

Informative article. Can't wait to have access to this software.

Tanyaradzwa Nyamapfene said...

Informative article. Can't wait to have access to this software.