DT Pro for detecting in-class plagiarism?

Has any teacher or academic considered DT for detecting in class plagiarism? You import a bunch of essays into DT Pro over several semesters. Then you run some kind of similarity search. DT Pro lists essays in order of similarity? I am still new to DT Pro and I don’t know if this is possible or how to do this. Any general thoughts or specific thoughts appreciated.

Note: I am not talking about getting essays from the Internet. I am talking about essays circulating around campus.

You might be able to use DT Pro in interesting ways to find and analyze similarities between papers.

If two or more people turn in identical papers, DT Pro will probably flag them with the names in blue as duplicates. Case closed. :slight_smile:

Or, open a paper and click the “See Also” button. It will then list other documents that have contextual similarities. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean plagiarism, but examining the “most similar” documents would likely prove interesting if plagiarism is going on.

You can also analyze the word content and the frequency of use of terms in documents. Open a document in its owen window and press the “Words” button. Pick an “interesting” word and double-click on it. This will open the search window. Press Return to initiate the search. Documents with very similar rankings for that term might be work looking into.

Here’s another trick. Near the top right, click on the “>>” symbol. A drawer will pop out to display a list of “interesting” words in the document. Pick a somewhat unusual term and click on it. The drawer will now display a list of other documents that contain that term, with ranking. That can help detect very similar documents.

Somehow OT, but what is bad about that? I am teaching at university and certainly do not accept plagiarism from the internet. But if would repeatedly present the same stuff in class every year, why should the students not “learn” copying good stuff from their forerunners?

I know, somehow a strange point of view, and I am not 100% on that side. But did we not do that at school – where teachers have to present the same every year? I learned a lot from the good papers I read…


Well, yes, you can learn from papers you read. But copy & paste or just minor re-edits are just not the way to do it… Students don’t really learn much from this, they waste their own time and that of their grading teachers. If I may speak for myself: If I catch plagiarism of even a small degree I am quite annoyed and my students won’t get away with it. What is so difficult about writing in your own words and style?

DTPro would probably not help if the paper was completely re-written but no additional ideas were added. A form of thought plagiarism, that is :wink: But at least there was work involved in re-wording.


Thanks for taking the time to answer my somewhat “advocatus diaboli” remarks.

I agree with you that cut and paste is of no use for nobody. My students do not get away with that as well. There are different cases, and first of all I remembered my time at school, when we “used” ready translations for our Latin examinations, which was of course detected by our teachers who knew these samples themselves (I am sure they used them at school like we did :wink: ). They would give those better marks who used the translation they personally preferred, and those who used another translation became victims of their sarcassm “If you cannot do it on your own, you should at least check which translation I prefer.”

Things are more severe nowadays with the internet, and at university more severe than at school.

Why did I – and still do – the whole thing with a little smile? It is a tendency of humourless correctness that has spread through our societies, a lack of “scope” or tolerance. So I am alert even in cases where I should not be. Maybe it was the word “plagiarism”, which is so hard, but I would see a grey zone between school and university, learning from others and simple cut and paste. As you do.

We had a case here with a baseball team of 18 year old boys who got the championship of the prefecture to take part in the national tournaments. They celebrated on that evening with a few bottles of beer. Next day, this was in the National news, the school head apologized on television and withdrew his team from the championships. Because alcohol, this gift from the devil is allowed from 20 years on. This and many other, more serious examples of people judging about others, not allowing for a little bit of human weakness.

A bit long, sorry,


don’t be sorry, as we are already OT there is no more need for that :wink:

I can see the use of templates and “old versions” of essays or whatever in writing something. As I have been a student myself I also have had my share of old lab reports to look at, especially since, in chemistry, many lab courses don’t change much over the years, as it would be too much work to get new experiments etc. (I am in the process of designing a new set of experiments for one class… ouch, a very detailed assignment). So our solution was to keep the stuff that is the theoretical background of the experiments as brief as possible, as there usually is no way to re-write stuff like that in thousand times (we have 200 students/semester going through the course). But there is much more use in writing your own experiences, your own discussion about your own faulty data from the experiment :wink:

And regarding the rest: our society (and that of the US even more so) tolerates some things better than others (just look at movie age restrictions); and if the press finds something to wank about - fine.

A lot more tolerance is in need. But, to get back to “plagiarism”: not in this case; as I said, I don’t like to grade people who don’t care about their work or waste my time. They should either do it or not, there is no try. :wink: But, on the other hand, I don’t pass out Fs for that kind of work, there is just a sever deduction in the grade for anyone involved.


PS: It seems like people like to be more judgemental about those little things, but greatly lack the need for changes and voicing their objections when it come sto bigger things… we should have thousands on the streets fighting governmental “parenting” in many cases… oh well.

Yesyesyesyesyes! :angry: I did not want to write something political on such a forum, but this is exactly the point!

I hope you find a good way to use DT for your purposes, it looks like a good idea. We won’t pass any students who do not write their own stuff (particularly in the humanities) either.



But please don’t set my car on fire. :slight_smile:


you are not talking to me in this case, aren’t you?


Hi, Maria:

Of course not.

But so often when I read of demonstrations in the streets, I see that cars are set afire. Budapest, Paris, etc.

I’ve always wondered what the point of burning other persons’ automobiles is. :slight_smile:

It is part of our culture, you have to grow up with this to understand – and enjoy :smiling_imp:


Interested to know if EHD, or anyone else, has used DT for detecting plagiarism. At my university it is considered a major “sin”, with penalties ranging up to expulsion.

Just to make my own position clear: I believe that imitating good work, in order to learn how it’s done, is a good thing and should be actively encouraged. Copying it and passing it off as one’s own is not. There is an important distinction between the two and students should know the difference.

Just my 2c. :slight_smile:

But back to topic, I will be tutoring this year, and plagiarism detection is one of our roles. Interested in any and all tools to assist.

@EHD + oz-nom
What a strange way of teaching - seeing every student as a potential delinquent.
Dont get me wrong - of course i wouldnt accept plagiarism if i found out - but i would never search for it.

I want to second this, Maria :smiling_imp:

Hi Louise,

To clarify: I don’t see every student as a delinquent, in fact I begin from the opposite position - I see every student as a unique human being with enormous potential. Some students, for whatever reason, do not appreciate the difference between quoting material and plagiarising it or between imitating style and copying content (e.g. one student in my department last year cut and paste huge sections from various papers and the web without even changing their original fonts! She just didn’t understand that it was not OK). At tertiary education level, these distinctions are crucial and it is part of students’ education to learn this if they do not already. Other students do not trust their own abilities enough and benefit from encouragement and feedback on expressing their own ideas through their work. In my opinion, only a very small minority are “delinquent” - and while university policy makers may focus on these few students, I do not.

I was intrigued by EHD’s suggestion and, while I do not intend to use DT for this, I remain curious to know how people have addressed student plagiarism.

Note: there are some startling statistics now about the level of plagiarism in undergraduate, and even graduate, courses in Australia, which has led to some very tough university policies. Many universities (not my own - yet) require digital submission of ALL papers so they can be checked by online plagiarism checkers. I think this is a shame and believe it is a fault of our education systems, not just the students.

It’s certainly a growing problem, especially at large public schools (colleagues tell me) where students have a “what do we need to know to pass” attitude toward their courses.

Professors have to bear some blame, especially if they give predictable assignments. Requiring a 5-page expository essay on “The Scarlet Letter” is practically asking for a paper-mill submission.

Google is a third culprit, because it supports the advertising of paper mills. Enter “essay Scarlet Letter” and note the results you get. Very tempting for a lazy or indifferent student.

In my courses, I require weekly entries in reading journals. The journal entry is a personal response to the reading, with specific textual evidence to make the case. These are difficult to borrow from others and almost impossible to fake. I also give exams and double-blind grade them, so the grades are tough but fair.

Hahaha! You cracked me up again. So funny…



When I wen to college I was very poor. I had a record player but very few records.

One of my classmates had a large collection of classical records. We decided to enter into a barter agreement. I wrote some of his assigned papers for him (some of them for classes I hadn’t taken).

So he got A’s and I got B’s (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms).

But at least I didn’t plagiarize the papers I wrote for him. :slight_smile: