In light of recent plagiarism fears at Wesleyan, it might be useful to note that a number of professors here are now turning to an online service called Turn it In for, you guessed it, turning papers in. According to the NYtimes:
Turn It In, for the teachers and schools that make use of it, is a powerful deterrent to plagiarism. The service is essentially a powerful search engine and database that keeps track of every paper submitted to it — now some 60,000 a day, according to John Barrie, the company president, with usage doubling every 12 months or so. About 30 percent of those papers turn out to be “less than original,” Mr. Barrie said.
The database now includes not just material available on the Web but also, say, those moldy Psych 101 papers that have been circulating around the frat house for decades, and the search engine has a very long memory. It was able to determine, for example, that chunks of that Orwell/Huxley paper were included in an essay turned in by a student at Helensvale State High School, in Queensland, Australia, in November 2002.
“That’s one of the values of our service,” Mr. Barrie said. “If you’re a student, you know that you might get away with a plagiarized paper today, but next semester, next year, you might just get a wake-up call.”