College students use social media to cheat

The ever-increasing role of social media like Facebook and Twitter in students’ daily lives could complicate colleges’ efforts to curb cheating and explain long-established plagiarism rules.

“A digital culture that promotes sharing, openness, and re-use is colliding with one of the fundamental tenets of education – the ability to develop, organize, and express original thoughts,” the report said. “For many students who have grown up sharing music, re-tweeting thoughts, and downloading free software, the principle of originality in research and writing can seem antiquated. It is important for educators to draw a clear line between what can be reproduced and what must be created.”

Thirteen percent of matched content originated on news websites, and 15 percent came from cheat websites and paper mills. Paper mills, such as, have vast online repositories of completed papers. Students can narrow their search for a term paper with a phrase or by clicking through hundreds of categories.

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, was the most frequently matched site in the Turnitin study. Answers.Yahoo ranked second, with and coming in third and fourth, respectively. Fourteen of the 25 most commonly matched sites on Turnitin were considered legitimate sources.

Many in higher education have discouraged students from using Wikipedia as a primary source for a term paper or class assignment, recommending that students use the site for background research and cite sources mentioned at the bottom of the Wikipedia entry.

During Turnitin’s 10-month research period, “sites promoting academic dishonesty saw the largest decline of any category.”

“While it is too early to draw long term conclusions, the short-term results are encouraging,” the report said.

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