We Can't Monitor Every Website That Sells Essays, Admits Expert

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 10, 2007 | Go to article overview

We Can't Monitor Every Website That Sells Essays, Admits Expert


Byline: By Abbie Wightwick Western Mail

One of Wales' top plagiarism experts has warned students about website developments which could lead to an increase in cheating.

Although fears are growing that new technology may make lifting articles straight from the web more appealing, Dr Judith Broady-Preston, who sits on the panel investigating alleged cases of plagiarism at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, said the dividing line between sharing knowledge and cheating will be strictly policed.

And experts are becoming better at spotting copied articles or passages in essays.

The warnings come after a new website is growing in popularity with students, and aims to eventually enable students to post entire articles on the site.

Carmun.com is an academic version of social networking websites like MySpace.

People who sign up give basic information and a photo before sharing reviews and tips on academic sources they have used for any subject, from neurology to medieval literature.

Former AOL executive Jonathon Edson, who set up the site in March, said it has had more than 80,000 individual visits since being established in March and more than 4,500 users have set up profiles.

Visitors to the site can join or start groups related to their academic interests and can use Carmun as a database for their projects, bookmarking and rating the resources they use.

The website uses the motto "students of the world unite" and says it can help turn a journal article or source into a formatted bibliography entry.

Carmun doesn't allow people to post their own papers, but site founder Jonathan Edson says this is the long-term plan.

Lecturers and students fear this could lead to an increased risk of plagiarism.

Dr Broady-Preston, who is also chairwoman of the Professional Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Wales, said, "I am very keen on students sharing what is acceptable and learning together. People learn better when they are supported.

"But there is a dividing line between being supported and actually submitting a joint project, when it's supposed to be an individual project.

"The bottom line about this [the website] is that it depends what students may be sharing.

"Project sharing and sharing the content of each other's essays is not acceptable, but as a forum for discussion it is perfectly acceptable."

Dr Broady-Preston, who is head of learning and teaching at Aberystwyth's information studies department, warned that students should be wary of inaccurate information on the web and realise that tutors can spot uncharacteristic ways of expressing themselves. …

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