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University of Iowa Subscribes to Plagiarism Checking Service

University of Iowa Subscribes to Plagiarism Checking Service


Turnitin, which costs about $11,000 a year, compares student papers to databases of past work, books, journals, newspapers and even the Internet.

About 150 faculty are Plagiarism has become so widespread on college campuses that the University of Iowa employs a service to help stop it. now signed on to the service, but many don’t know it exists, said Ken Clinkenbeard, who works with the university’s informational technology service and recently sent out a faculty reminder.

“When I talk to faculty, they say, ‘Wow, we have this available?”’ Clinkenbeard said.

Growing Internet use has “muddied what plagiarism is,” said Kathe Rasch, a dean at Maryville University in St. Louis. She said some students think they can cut corners by buying papers or not sourcing their work. Others take notes from technical material they don’t understand.

Mike Thongvanh, 22, a senior at Iowa, said he does his own work, but knows many people who think plagiarism is no big deal.

“I know lots of people who do it,” he said, adding that the students mainly copy essays for class.

There is no central hub that compiles the total number of plagiarism cases at the University of Iowa, but the school’s ombudsman’s office last year received 112 calls from students complaining of plagiarism, grade appeals or conflicts with faculty or teaching assistants.

Incidents of plagiarism are considered academic misconduct, which is handled by individual colleges, said Phillip E. Jones, dean of students.

Brooks Landon, chairman of the English department, said most plagiarism cases at Iowa are “crude and obvious.”

“I think students who plagiarize generally do so out of a real sense of desperation or panic, rather than out of any calculated intent to beat the system,” he said.

“They sadly think that the risk of getting caught is better than taking a zero on an assignment or talking to the teacher about the problems they are facing.”

Associated Press

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