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Plagiarism: Shall We Turn to Turnitin? 



Edwina Bensal

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Edna Miraflores

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Neslie Carol Tan

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To Cite This Source:

Bensal, E. R., Miraflores, E. S., & Tan, N. C. C. (2013). Plagiarism: Shall we turn to Turnitin?. CALL-EJ, 14(2), 2-22.


This article explores the use of one of the most popular Plagiarism Detection Software (PDS), Turnitin, to address the problem of plagiarism in the academe, specifically in the context of a private university in the Philippines. To investigate the possible benefits and limitations of the PDS as well as the students’ attitudes towards the software, this paper used the argumentative essays (checked via Turnitin) of 31 students in two introductory ESL writing classes along with their responses to two sets of self-reflection surveys. The results of the study reaffirmed certain laudable benefits claimed by Turnitin, while these also revealed a few limitations in the software’s promise of detecting plagiarism, especially in the common instances of misuse of the PDS and blurred lines between the concepts of originality and plagiarism. The use of Turnitin was found to engender conflicting attitudes among the students towards avoiding this academic offense. Hence, this paper strongly recommends the careful guidance of stakeholders (teachers and students alike) in the proper use of the promising PDS as well as the re-evaluation of the plagiarism policy or approach of the institution in order to “educate-to-avoid” instead of promoting “detect-to-punish” measures (Starr & Graham-Matheson, 2011b, p. 5) in upholding academic integrity. 

Keywords: Turnitin, plagiarism, plagiarism detection software, originality, academic integrity

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