"You spent all weekend on that world history paper? All I did was download one from the web!" While most students use the Internet as a tool for legitimate research, some use it as a new mechanism for cheating. The Internet offers vast resources, such as websites that sell term papers, which many students find hard to pass up. The temptation and simplicity of lifting entire papers from the Internet without appropriate credits draws students to cheating. In this environment, traditional means for detecting plagiarism become inadequate.
To combat such growing abuse, emerging websites such as plagiarism.org, recently developed by teachers at UC Berkeley, help to identify possible instances of unauthorized copying. Such websites scan large databases of published articles and papers to determine parallels in construction and wording to help identify possible instances of unauthorized copying. Websites rate the degrees of similarity between an already published work and a paper in question so that instructors can evaluate them for cheating.
Using any available sources to catch plagiarized work, including the search capabilities of the Internet, must be allowed, especially with the forces shaping school, society and business.
There are two sweeping trends which have raised the stakes for copying. First, there is the ever-growing importance of brain power to a prospering economy. The marketplace today places high premiums on new ideas and creative problem-solving, so for the less-skilled, the incentives to steal and misrepresent ideas have never been greater. Secondly, the Internet's global networking capabilities allow access to all kinds of published material from countless sources, with easily obscured origins, increasing the temptation to plagiarize. On an unprecedented scale, over 50 web sites (such as "Term Paper Warehouse" and "The Paper Store") sell or exchange reports, theses and term papers belonging to others. The ease of...